This is rough. The world hasn’t opened back up as we had hoped it would by now and so, basically, all future travel has become aspirational. Domestic travel was becoming a new source of revenue for travel advisors but that’s gotten complicated because some states aren’t welcoming folks from other states with open arms because of COVID-19. And maybe you’d mapped out a fabulous road trip for your clients only to learn that none of the restaurants or bars in the places you’re sending them to will be open when they get there.
This is beyond exhausting. Years ago, I worked in Bloomingdale’s for a summer and I met another young woman. One morning as we were refolding toddler tee shirts on a display stand, she said to me so earnestly, “You know what I did last night because I was so mad at the world? I went out into the parking lot and screamed at the moon.” (She also said she broke a lot of beer bottles in that same parking lot as a venting technique but I cannot condone that here.)
Screaming at the moon, however, is sounding pretty good right now, unless you’ve just given into the universe and are enjoying your summer as others have for years, by growing tomatoes, going to the beach or lying out on a chaise lounge in your backyard. Sometimes you’ve just got to let it go.
Years ago, I was at the Cleveland airport returning home from a semester at college when an older gentleman sat down, turned to me and said, “I’ve got a lot of problems.” I didn’t look up as I continued reading my John Updike novel, wondering why someone would want to so publicly display his travails.
The current me would have engaged with him, realizing that things must be pretty bad if he needed to reach out to a total stranger to share. But I also think that most people would respond to him as the younger me did, by cringing.
One thing that has concerned me a bit over the past few months is the venting I’ve seen on travel advisor Facebook pages, openly lamenting the destruction of their business by COVID. I’ve read open letters from advisors, asking their clients to support them because they’ve lost a year’s worth of revenue and are in dire straits. They can’t believe how their world has crumbled and just want things to go back to the way they were. I totally get it but these outpourings of emotion would have been better off unpublished.
The story of the travel advisor is an easy one to tell. You create remarkable trips for your clients that cannot be created online. If your client is in a pinch, you help them out. Stranded overseas by a pandemic? You’re there for them.
The best part? You provide free add-ons to vacations that are not available to the consumer who is booking on their own. It’s easy to add up how much value you bring to your customers using a calculator; it’s also easy to let them know about all of the value you bring them, whether in savings or in service.
It’s time to do that now; don’t let these few months show your vulnerable side. You’ve spent years building up this business; now is the time to keep growing it, not to tarnish your image by letting it all hang out. And, remember, the comeback is always stronger than the setback.