On Reality TV and Selling Travel Creatively

The television show, Project Runway, tends to reflect the microcosms of people you meet in real life fairly well. There's always the neurotic who has somehow survived being an adult for years by enjoying a meltdown every time they feel an ounce of stress; there's the moderately talented diva who insults just about everyone on the show behind their backs; and then there's the totally offbeat character who creates interesting clothes but who completely misses the mark occasionally and then arrogantly disagrees with the judges when they call him on it.

Then you have personalities like this season's winner, Christian Siriano. Throughout each weekly competition he remained true to his design philosophy, which while always edgy, was always backed up by true couture-quality sewing. He never caved by going with a "safe" design. He always pushed the assignment to the limit and wowed everyone with his imagination and the quality of the product he delivered. He was fiercely creative and full of courage, even though he is only 21.

But enough about reality TV. What does this mean to someone who is a seller of travel experiences, a creator of dreams? Never sacrifice your style of doing things well, even when the pressure is on. Don't succumb to a middle-of-the-road delivery because you're nervous about overwhelming your client with an itinerary with too much pizzazz. They can purchase mundane travel experiences from the Internet or from the so-so competition who sells out-of-the-box travel products. Always opt to use the best products, or suppliers and never fail to try to wow your client with tasteful ornamentation that will make their trip a personal experience.

If you are a younger agent who is new to the business, don't be afraid to try things that haven't been done before. The industry welcomes new blood and there are no rules about selling travel, as long as it's done well. Perhaps you have innovative ways of pulling like-minded consumers together for a special event to which you can also invite suppliers. Ask your manager or owner for assistance. If you don't get it, consider working elsewhere. Everyone is looking for good agents these days and if you're a quality player, I'm sure you'll be welcome somewhere else.

If you're an owner/manager, think of ways to inspire your staff to push the envelope. Encourage creativity and provide a work setting in which your agents are comfortable asking for assistance and in suggesting new ideas. In trying economic times, the innovator often wins, especially when everyone else is playing it safe to survive. Do what you do well and be fierce about it.