Travel is coming back. Over the past 17 months, travel professionals and suppliers have taken a beating. Some did not make it. Others are on life support. And thankfully, many will survive to thrive again one day. But we can’t do it alone. Just as we need suppliers, suppliers need us. And to survive, and one day thrive again, we need to work in a true partnership: something more than words. Here are my suggestions!
- Be responsive. Responsiveness is critical. Automation is great. Technology is great. But if I reach out to you by phone, text, or email, it is because I need to speak with you about something automation or technology can’t handle. Please work with me!
- Keep me up to speed. As we exit the pandemic, things will be changing frequently. As a business owner, I have a lot of balls to juggle, and I may have missed a policy change. Please, don’t assume I heard about it in the trade press or from someone else. If you change a vaccination policy and I am not aware of it and a client is arriving without the proper information, it is not going to be a good situation for anyone. And in return, I promise to keep you up to speed as well.
- Be a real partner. I understand you need to make money and ultimately have shareholders to answer to. So do I. But if we can communicate and be responsive (see points 1 and 2 above) we can discover new ways to be true partners. We all have some great ideas to further advance our shared business. Without a true partnership, we’re doomed.
- Cut me a break. I did not go into business to make costly mistakes. But, the fact remains that they happen; after all, we are all human. A true partner (see point 3) will try to help mitigate a mistake. If I sell a $10,000 cabin for $100.00 by accident, I don’t expect you to eat that. But if you can give me a few more days to connect with my client for final payment before canceling it, everyone will win.
- Don’t diss us. While most BDMs are on board with our value, many times there are some that are not. I have been told by airlines that they flat out do not like to work with travel agents. Suppliers’ direct-to-consumer sales agents routinely use the “why would you use a travel agent when you can come directly to me” line on mutual clients. Just stop it. If you respect us, we’ll respect you and that will translate into sales.
- Thou shalt not steal my clients. The corollary to “don’t diss us” is “don’t steal our clients.” We know that the best time to re-book a client is when they are having a fantastic time on their vacation. You are at an advantage because generally, we are not there! And if they want to re-book–please re-book them. But, please give us the credit. If it weren’t for us in the first place, that client might have been someplace else. And if we get wind of it, you can bet future clients will be someplace else!
- Make it simple. The geeks in the IT department thrive on complexity. I am convinced they design complexity as a means of job security. Unfortunately, we tend to be older and less technologically inclined. Not all of us, but many. When you launch a new site or portal, let us have a sneak peek and offer suggestions. Today, the UX (for you techies out there) is paramount.
In the end, it is probably all about the Golden Rule. The next few years are going to be incredibly challenging and we need partners who legitimately work with us together for our mutual benefit. Be one of them!