This month, back in 1997, I was negotiating the purchase of my first agency. I had never bought a business before and learned a lot in the process. Domestic airline fares had recently been cut and capped, but international was still viable. Since then (in no particular order) – recessions, wars, SARS, more caps and cuts, 911, Mad Cow Disease, Swine Flu, Zika, Ebola, and of course, COVID. Did the Bubonic Plague make an appearance too? Toss in employee issues, rising insurance costs, and increased competition from the Internet and even suppliers; is it any wonder when I was out to dinner the other night, someone asked, “So now, do you think it is time to quit?” And after some thought, my answer…
And here are a few reasons why!
It’s Fun! Face it; we are in a fun business. If I were not in the travel business, I’d be in the ice cream business—also fun. Very few people come to us miserable. Of course, there is the occasional horrid business trip or a bereavement flight, but generally, we are a happy business. And who does not want to be with happy people?
It’s Challenging. No career is without challenges, And we have had our share, to be sure, but with each one, we learn, we grow, and we become stronger. Imagine how boring a job would be without challenges? Would you like a straw with that Slurpee, sir?
It’s Profitable. Here’s the reality. If we want to eat, we need to be profitable. As long as the business is treated as a business and not a hobby (or a way to travel on the cheap), it can be profitable. There are up years and down ones as well. But analyze it and run it like a business, and you will make money.
It’s In Demand. Yes, believe it or not, demand for travel professionals is still very high, and despite the Internet and supplier direct sales, we are still thriving. Even the Generation Z travelers who were born with smartphones in their hands are looking for a true professional to guide them along the way and not some algorithm. Granted, they are all probably making more money than us and know the value of their time!
It’s Futureproof. I can’t count the number of times I have heard that we are a dying industry. In fact, back in 1997, one of my advisors told me to avoid it because of the commission cuts. But over the past 25 years, I have witnessed that we are like the donkey in that old parable. We shake it off and take a step forward.*
So yes, hell no! I have come to love the industry and the challenges it throws at me every day. I love the folks that work in and with the industry. And most importantly I love the clients that continue to trust their life experiences to me based on my own expertise and experience. I’ve been here for 25 years. Here’s to 25 more!**
*Here’s that parable in case you have not heard it before.
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well.
The animal cried for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all of his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.
At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly.
Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw.
With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel the dirt on top of the animal, the donkey kept shaking it off and moving up a step.
Pretty soon everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt! The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up.
Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest well just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!
**And about that whole 25 more years—let’s be honest, that’s not likely. No one in 2047 is gonna want to deal with an octogenarian travel advisor–right?