Editorial Director Ruthanne Terrero
In the hotel industry, it’s considered a wise practice to use the slower portions of the business cycle to renovate and repair, in order to be at the peak of your game when the economy improves and guests return in droves.
Why not consider doing the same thing if your business slows down because of a recession? At this point, the agents I’ve spoken with haven’t suffered from a decline in business at all, but I am concerned that the more CNN and other news channels harp on the fact that we may be taking a downturn, consumers will decide to cut back on travel simply to protect themselves.
If sales do soften, be prepared. Take the extra hour a day you may suddenly have to focus on educational opportunities. Do you have your CTA or CTC? If not, explore what the Travel Institute has to offer. Become a destination specialist in five new geographic regions you’ve only been able to dream about. Go to trade shows that you would never have been able to attend when business was booming. Take field trips to hotels within a reasonable driving distance to see if they are properties your cost-conscious clients would consider for a long weekend. Update your professional wardrobe so that you will be properly attired when it’s time to mingle with prospective clients in affluent settings.
Renovate your business as well. Revisit the business goals you set in the beginning of the year. We’re already into the second quarter of 2008. Is your strategy still intact or should it be amended to accommodate a new economy? Are there brilliant ideas that you didn’t think of on January 1 that you could include now? (If you forgot to set a business plan for the year, there’s still time to do so.) How about your workspace? Is it time to revamp? Do you walk around with your neck tilted to one side because you’re in agony from the way you hold your phone to your ear? Are you in danger of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome because your chair is positioned at the wrong angle to your desk? Is your chair ergonomically correct or is it sort of broken but you haven’t had time to look under it to see what’s really wrong? If so, check out www.safecomputingtips.com.
Although these issues may seem minor, they should all be considered building blocks to your success. The small things that we just never have time to deal with because we’re so, so busy are those same annoyances and frustrations that make our day seem about three hours too long.
I’m not part of the media that is touting bad times, but I do advise that it’s always good to be prepared. Along those same lines, you should definitely be taking measures to recession-proof your business. Go through your client list, and ask each of your active customers for a referral from a friend or family member. Peruse your top supplier list and contact your sales rep to see if there are co-op opportunities for you to join forces to attract more customers. This might be the ideal time to host a joint wine-and-cheese party with a vendor. Think about it: If consumers are cutting back, they’ll be more likely than ever to swing by for free food and drink. Be sure to have staff on hand to meet all of your guests and to project a great image of your agency.
Retool, rethink, refurbish and forget the recession.