There comes a day when every travel consultant will utter the phrase: “There are just so many hours in the day.”
Indeed…our work is very labor intensive and requires hawk-like focus all the time. Between selling, researching, negotiating, writing and fact-checking, booking, re-confirming, changing, handling the finances and managing our client’s trips—it’s a wonder any of us sleep. Oh and I forgot to mention—traveling ourselves both for research and networking at trade shows. To survive and thrive in our business, you need to be out there traveling.
If you find yourself talking about not having enough time—all the time—it’s time to make a decision: Either A) cut down your workload or B) expand your business.
I’m going to go with B—assuming you are reading Recommend because you’re serious about your business and want to see it grow.
When you reach that critical moment—the intersection of having too much work and not enough hours in the day, it’s time to get help.
This of course can be done by streamlining your technology and systems. For example, you can save time by using itinerary programs such as Umapped or Axus. You can organize client and supplier data in Excel efficiently so you’re not chasing down information all the time. You can take advantage of all sorts of apps like Trello that helps you manage tasks. These systems may take a bit to set up and learn, but once in place, can be huge time-savers.
But also think about building your own team. At the very least, get yourself a bookkeeper. Once you move the whole financial piece of your business to someone else’s desk, you are freeing yourself up to handle other day-to-day details that bring in more business. He/she may come once a week, twice a week, every other week—whatever your workload requires. It’s money very well spent.
Consider also hiring an assistant, even a few days or hours a week. This person can handle the everyday tasks that eat into your time. Also, this can be someone you groom to grow into bigger positions. By having them work on small tasks, you can identify what their strengths (and weaknesses are). Is he/she a good editor? Have him/her do the lion’s share of editing itineraries. Is he/she a good representative of your company? Send him/her out to events, to meetings, even trade shows (that don’t require decision-making owners to attend). Is he/she a social media whiz? Funnel those skills into the right place in your company.
Beyond that, depending on your P & L, always be thinking of smart ways you can grow your team. Would it make sense to have a dedicated social media person? What about someone who just handles your air? Do you need that? Or a PR person who gets the word out about what you’re doing…. With remote working capabilities, you don’t have to have the whole team meet in your kitchen. Many small agencies function today with assistants and staff working from their own homes.
Wherever you and your staff work and whatever changes you make in their jobs, you’ll look back and wonder how you ever survived before.
Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (FarewellTravels.com), a travel design firm based in Westport, CT. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.