Decision crossroads: Restart your travel business or let it die and move on?
Thursday, July 23, 2020
The world is struggling with a pandemic that has had catastrophic effects on human life, our society, our sense of security, and our sense of connectedness. And the travel industry, which employs millions in airline and cruise companies, trains and buses, hotels and B&Bs, restaurants and businesses catering to tourists, has clearly been decimated.
Many people in the travel industry were suddenly without jobs or incomes. And as of this writing, countries are still struggling with the logistics and health protocols of reopening to travelers and what travel might entail in the future.
There’s so much uncertainty. Those of us in the travel industry are at a crossroads. Do you embark on a path to resuscitate your moribund travel business? Or do you let it die and move on to something else?
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you contemplate your future:
Do you have the financial resources to invest in the future and concomitantly sustain you during the rebuilding?
Travel agents typically have to wait for commission checks till the client has traveled (and in some states, even if the commission arrives before the client has traveled, agents are not allowed to spend it till after travel).
So, you have a client who books a trip one or two years away — assuming the trip isn’t canceled due to the virus or other issue — can you realistically wait for income two years or more down the road? And besides supporting yourself during this interim one to three years, do you have the additional savings to aggressively invest in marketing?
Do you have the emotional capacity to essentially start over?
Researching, planning, executing ideas, and fine-tuning marketing ideas require emotional energy that is all-consuming. It’s more involved than sending a broadcast email to your client database that you’ve reopened for business, and waiting for your phone to ring. It takes work. Do you have the emotional stamina?
Along the same lines, do you have the physical stamina?
When I started my travel business nearly 20 years ago, I worked 10, 12, 14 hours every day, implementing a full marketing plan of writing, speaking engagements, and networking. I was also 20 years younger! Restarting a nearly dead business requires more energy than a broadcast email (see above).
Can you be confident in selling travel if there is continued uncertainty of where you can travel, when you can travel, what requirements would be demanded of you before you leave and when you arrive, or what the travel experience would be like (i.e., quarantine; masks 24/7 for the duration of a weeklong vacation)?
The best travel agents provide assurances for the quality of a planned vacation. For example, "I know that destination well. I have stayed at that resort many times and am confident of the experience you can expect.” Can you realistically and honestly pronounce any kind of assurances with the future so unpredictable?
Do you still have the passion for travel — the passion to experience it yourself and the enthusiasm to excite others?
Has the uncertainty or increased international regulations diminished your own joy in the travel experience? You cannot sell what you yourself do not believe in or if you lack unmitigated joy in future travel.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then here’s one more question for you:
Could the next one to two years of rebuilding your travel business be better spent in exploring new opportunities in a different career path?
Before you say, “travel is all I know,” I recall a personal experience decades ago. I mentioned to a close relative that I was pondering veering off from nursing to new horizons. His reply was, “but nursing is all you know,” as if someone stops learning after a point in time. I have since successfully navigated many careers — some with no connection to healthcare at all.
Is your stagnated travel business perhaps the impetus you have been waiting for to explore some new opportunity that excites your passion?
When an existing career is profitable, we tend to dismiss alternatives. “I’m making good money; why change now and rock the boat?” The boat is definitely rocked now. So if the financial incentive to maintain the status quo is missing, that removes a huge impediment to change. Perhaps it’s the change you’ve been unconsciously craving.
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