Nobody wants business to slow down. We all have our agencies to maintain. We have overhead, we have staff.… Slow down for long, and how long can we continue?
It’s a scary question, but one we all need to ask ourselves when faced with challenges like potential pandemics, see-sawing financial markets and the political madness of election years.
And then there are the unexpected personal challenges. Somebody close to us may need more of our time because of an illness or accident. We may need to take time off or recalibrate how we spend our time to tend to all sorts of family challenges. It’s life.
That said, in the back of my mind when we started to learn that COVID-19 might impact our business, there’s a part of me that thought—“Well at least I might have some time off so I can catch up on things.”
When I was a freelance travel writer, somewhere along the line, I realized that I should embrace the slow times because the crazy-busy times always came back. I remember having two scenarios in my day to day. I was either unbearably busy, always behind, late on deadlines or…I was wondering if I’d ever get another assignment.
Here are some tips for weathering the storm, think of them as your To-Do list:
- Start by organizing the piles of papers in your office. It’s a good time to purge, make sure you’ve got everything digitized and backed up.
- Go through your client list and write notes to those you haven’t heard from recently.
- Think about strategies for selling travel in such uncertain times. I’m quite certain wilderness trips are going to be tops of many traveler’s lists. Fresh air, nature, beauty—no crowds. Maybe do an e-mail or snail mail with ideas and photos to inspire your clients. Ramp up your social media efforts.
- Analyze your profits and losses. Many agents are so busy just taking care of clients and relying on the work of bookkeepers and accountants, that they spend little of their own time truly evaluating where they can trim losses and maximize gains.
- Take a hard look at the economics. Do you have an emergency fund for the company? How long can you ride it out? If you’ve got a good staff, it’s important to do everything in your power to keep them. Your agency should have some cash available to get through tough times. If not, time to make it a priority.
- Keep in mind, that there will be lots of pent-up demand when this is all over.
We need to be able to ride out storms and keep our agencies alive and well because one thing history shows us is that travel always comes back. We’ve all endured challenges over the years, all-out assaults on our professions. Who wanted to get on a plane after 911? And remember Ebola? No one wanted to go to Africa. We’ve had to get through countless protests, uprisings and waves of terrorism. We’ve dealt with hurricanes and tsunamis, earthquakes and erupting volcanoes.
For those of us who sell the world, every time we look at the news, there’s potentially a threat to the places we are sending clients to.
So…rest up, be ready.
Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (FarewellTravels.com), a travel design firm based in Connecticut. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.