Staying on Top


John McMahon
John McMahon

For as long as I can remember, the majority of my visits to travel suppliers have started with the same questions: How long do you think travel agents are going to be around? Aren’t they a dying breed? The ones that are around, don’t they just take orders?

So, I spend a good chunk of my time selling the travel supplier on the market. I would begin by saying that travel agents have nine lives, just look at their track record. They have an uncanny ability to adapt to ever-changing business environments. In the last 20 years alone they have witnessed airline commission cuts, 9/11, the rise of the Internet and online travel agents, multilevel marketer incursion, the economy...the list can go on and on.

Of course, not every agent has survived all of this. But in true Darwinian fashion, the best and brightest have emerged victorious. If you’re reading this magazine, odds are you’re one of those people. The reason you survived is because you adapted to change and made adjustments in your business plans. Think about it, in the last 10 years, how often has your business model changed?

As technology develops and there are attempts to automate many service industries, you all are getting stronger. Others such as bank tellers, video stores, one-hour photo shops are disappearing.

Most live chats from service-based businesses have a voice from India. Technology is turning the service industry into a commodity. 

When a sea change occurs in society or an industry, consultants, sociologists and economists fall over each other to give it and its impact a catchy name. The current economic situation, for instance, this “recession/non-recession” is being labeled the “New Normal” by a lot of experts and media outlets.

Taken to a much more basic level, it is simply adapting to a new way of doing things when outside influences necessitate a change. Eventually that change takes hold as perfectly normal. We do these things every day, and eventually don’t even think about why or when we started. Taking off our shoes on an airport security line or squeezing as much as we can into one carry-on bag are now part of everyday life. So is working from home, a choice many of you have made.

A lot of travel agents started working from home after 9/11, when the bottom dropped out of the travel business, or perhaps a few years before that when the carriers dropped their commission structure. Obviously, the subsequent growth of the Internet sent another wave of travel agents into home offices as well—some lost their jobs because of competition from Expedia, Orbitz, et al., and others saw an opportunity being created that gave  them the ability to work from wherever they wanted.

However you chose to adapt to the changing environment, give yourself a pat on the back and get back to work. Continue to evolve and adjust your business plan. Your business has lived to see another day and, what’s more, possibly thrived against the odds. You have our commitment at Travel Agent to guide you in the direction of change and prosperity.

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