I remember as if it were yesterday, hearing the following words at the home of two Russian immigrants in Chicago. The husband was an emergency room surgeon, while his wife was a successful travel agent. Their home was modest, yet beautifully furnished. When they first arrived in the states as youngsters, neither one could speak a word of English.
The good doctor’s words at the dinner table will stick with me forever. After passing the rolls, he said, “If you can’t make it in America, you can’t make it.” Those words stuck with me ever since.
That was more than 25 years ago, and I think of that sentence every time I present to a room full of travel professionals. With a little poetic license, I now put a different spin on the same belief.
“If you can’t make it in the travel business, you can’t make it.”
How can I say this with the competition being what it is?
I say the following with all due respect: Whether home-based or not, travel agents grow on trees—a dime a dozen—they are everywhere. And, the internet makes it easy to book trips on one’s own.
Suppliers are contacting travelers directly and doing end-runs. The Big Box Stores are cutting prices. Clients to not want to pay fees and supplier commissions are being sliced and diced. “Mike, and you’re telling me if I can’t make it in this business there is something wrong with “me?” Explain, please!
Try to stay with me.
First of all, forget all that mumbo-jumbo about big boxes, internets, suppliers, and charging for your labor. Focus on a few facts that will have you thinking straight in no time. By “straight,” I mean productively.
Fact #1: You don’t have to buy anything.
The single reason why most start-up companies eventually go out of business is overhead, over-extending themselves financially. You have zero inventory. You have no product or raw material investment. Your overhead is (and should be) extremely low. You have total control of this element of your business.
Fact #2: You have immediate access to all of the products, destinations, and modes of locomotion that every single one of your competitors has.
Fact #3: Your marketplace has unlimited boundaries.
There are seven billion people in the world (and counting) from which to target. If you don’t think people are moving around these days, I want you to ask yourself a few questions:
- Why are smart people continuing to build huge ocean-going hotels and more river cruise ships?
- Why are airlines cramming more seats into less real estate?
- Why can’t you find a parking space in Newark Airport’s Long Term Parking Lot?
Fact #4: People today are fed up with empty promises and BS.
They are looking for somebody who knows what they are talking about and who they can trust. The window of “opportunity” is wide open.
All you have to do is to decide to ‘make it.’
My fellow entrepreneurs (both young and old), your problem is not the internet or the market, or the price of gas. Your problem is that you have not decided yet to “make it.” Your problem is that you are not comfortable with the rules of the game, and you are not adequately skilled yet at your position.
You are not doing enough of what needs doing and, in all probability, you are starting to pretend that your business is supposed to be easier than it is.
In some cases, you may not even know what you need to do to become successful in the travel business.
If you are interested in busting a few moves in your own personal “happy dance,” perhaps it is time to sing a few bars from Michael Jackson’s famous ditty, The Man in the Mirror. I am particularly fond of the following line slightly altered to fit today’s column:
“If you want to make your business a better place, take a look in the mirror and make a change.”
If two Russian immigrants can come to America not knowing our language and manage to serve a fine meal to a stranger in a beautifully-appointed home in Chicago, then you too can make a go of it in the most fun, rewarding and interesting industry.
Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club. firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** You want more to think about? Check out my weekly podcast (Mike’d Up Marchev). Also listed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, and iHeartRadio.