Control Your Time, Control Your Business

Uncategorized Nov 06, 2017

Time management is something of an oxymoron to me. I will not even attempt to create the illusion that I am good at it. In fact, I am probably one of the biggest procrastinators you will ever meet. No, time management and I don’t get along.

But let me ask you this: Are your customers consuming virtually all your time? Do you feel like you must be available to your customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week or they will find someone else who is? Are your relationships at home strained because you are always “on”?

I see this every day at conferences, parties, dinners, and movie nights out with the family. It’s not unique to the travel industry, but unfortunately many of us have backed ourselves into this corner of which there seems to be no way out.

I have been there myself.  In fact, I spent over ten years totally devoted to my customers and it almost killed me. I ate at my desk, worked weekends and nights, kept my phone with me always. My family stopped...

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Wanted: Family Support!

Uncategorized Oct 12, 2017

I often get “love letters” from readers. Keep them coming, there are as many opinions as there are business models – trust me there are a lot!

On a recent Sunday morning while getting ready to watch our beloved Seattle Seahawks, I received an email from a reader. It was about how,after 2 years of starting his home-based travel business, his spouse is still not buying into his dream of a full-time career selling travel
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I could practically feel the desperation and frustration in his words.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage to write such a personal plea to someone you have never met. We all want and need the support of our families & friends in this business. Without it, another layer of stress is added to our need to succeed.

I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, nor do I play one on TV; we will leave that to Dr. Phil. I do, however, have some experience when it comes to this from my past life with two travel franchise organizations.

I believe...

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Who should you trust?

When everyone claims to be an expert, who should you trust? I have seen travel agents who barely know the difference between a hotel and a motel start social media groups, and suddenly have a following of thousands eagerly embracing their every word as it were the gospel.
 
Social media has given anyone with something to say a platform to share their opinion. While I can appreciate their passion, some of these forums are loaded with misinformation and unsubstantiated claims. It’s like the blind leading the blind.
 
I follow a number of online travel agent forums from around the world. Most are very good and offer travel professionals solid advice and networking opportunities. However, there are several that keep popping up on my radar.
 
The moderators use inflammatory rhetoric to whip their followers into an “us against them” frenzy. They attract anyone who will listen, in their pursuit against the OTAs, suppliers, and pretty much anyone who disagrees or...

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You are responsible for your own journey to the top!

How was your vacation?

I recently returned from a five day, solo backpacking adventure on a seventy-five-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington’s Cascade mountains. You may remember the PCT, the west coast version of the Appalachian Trail, from the bestselling book and movie, Wild.

I am an avid day hiker and have done a number of overnight backpacking trips - I have even climbed Mount Rainier, but I had no idea how physically challenging this endeavor would be.

Towards the end of the second day, I had already hiked fifteen miles with one to go. This last mile included a modest five hundred feet of elevation gain before reaching camp at the top of Cathedral Pass.  At this point, my legs were like jelly and I could go no further. As I sat there on the side of the trail, I quickly realized that I was out in the middle of one of the most remote sections of the entire PCT.  No one was going to come and get me, bring me water, or carry my forty-five-pound...

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Are You Missing Out on the “Next Big Thing”?

Uncategorized Aug 01, 2017

In case you missed it, the luxury and niche travel business has been exploding in growth. Tour operators are offering more upscale itineraries with custom built coaches and five-star hotels than ever before. Capacity in the luxury cruise segment increased by 45% in 2016 alone, and will double again by 2020. And of course, river cruising is still on a juggernaut, fueling the growth more than any other sector.

There is no shortage of customers either. Forget the millennials – at least for now. They are not what’s driving this boom. It is in fact- the “Boomers.” According to Northern Trust, a Chicago-based wealth management firm, more than 50% of the discretionary dollars available in the market today is in the hands of, you guessed it -the Boomers! Their number one interest just happens to be travel.

Folks, the opportunity is now and will be here for the foreseeable future. In my experience, I have seen a tremendous shortage of travel professionals who are...

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When it Comes to Sales, Are you a Hunter or a Farmer?

I may have attended the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!), but as my Uncle Howard once told me - my real education was the summer of my freshman year I spent selling books door-to-door. In those short two and one-half months, I developed many of the life skills that have become an integral part of who I am today.

Knocking on doors and proactively presenting my product to families with a specific need my educational books could help solve, showed me that I can earn a lot more commission by taking the game to my customer than waiting for them to come to me.

As a result, for most of my sales career I have made “prospecting” my priority. I believe it is the missing link between just getting by, and real success in sales.

If you have been in or around the sales profession for any length of time, you have undoubtedly heard salespeople described as “hunters” and “farmers”. Unfortunately, the latter is how most operate, regardless of their product or...

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Finding Your Way Again.

travel agent Jul 02, 2017

Remember when you first decided to become an independent travel professional.  You were so excited to be embarking on a new career, one that could take you all over the world, live a lifestyle others only dream about, and heck -you were even going to get paid for it! The thought of associating yourself with a trusted brand or finding a business model that you worked for you made the decision that much easier.  Regardless of the reason– you jumped in with both feet. 

Fast forward to today. You are lost. You feel like the pumpkin that was once Cinderella’s beautiful carriage.  You are going through the motions, but don’t know what to do next, or in some cases- even where to start?    Sound familiar?  You are not alone, this is very common among small business owners, regardless of industry. 

In hindsight, you may have asked yourself these four questions, but it’s not too late.

1. “What is it that gets me out of...

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Charging Fees? - Read This First

I had just finished presenting my Selling to the Affluent Traveler seminar at a recent industry conference, when one of the attendees asked the question, “Dan, how do you feel about fees?”  This is a loaded question and, while it was outside of the scope of the program, everyone in the room was waiting for my response.

“I love fees!” I replied, to which you could almost hear a collective sigh of relief.  “Especially service fees, but in my opinion,” I continued, “you should only charge planning fees if you are adding value to the purchase!” 

To charge a planning fee or not is a subject as hotly debated as any.  There are valid arguments supporting both sides.  Assuming that you have a specific skill or expertise that differentiates you or your agency, customers are seeking you out, or you are planning a “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” FIT itinerary - by all means, charge an upfront planning...

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What I learned from my own strategic review - Part 2

Uncategorized May 03, 2017

A couple of months ago, I took some long overdue time to spend working strategically on my business.  The process brought three things into focus that I needed to work on.

In my previous post, I covered the first one: Do a better job of qualifying prospects by getting clearer on who I am and who I serve. The second was a surprise to me at first, but after giving it some thought- it was really a revelation.

Strategic Take-Away #2:  My clients picked me to be their trusted advisor, not just a coach.  I need to give them everything I’ve got.

Lesson:  My first-hand experience is the very reason my clients choose me.

Business experience matters – a lot.  My clients chose me specifically because they believe that with the breadth of business skills, industry knowledge, and first-hand experience I have gained throughout my career in the travel industry - I have the most to offer to their business success.  The value of all of this is priceless to...

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What I learned from my own strategic review.

Uncategorized May 02, 2017

First quarter tends to be a slower time for me.  While most of you were busy with “Wave Season,” I took advantage of the opportunity to spend some time working strategically on my business - instead of in it for a change. 

You may be experiencing many of the same challenges and growing pains as I am in your own business.  With the start of the "sales year" approaching in September, this is a great opportunity to step back and take a brutally honest assessment of your business (and yourself). 

It is amazing what you can learn from this process. I found that I am doing a lot of things well, but there are a few that can be definitely be improved.  As you look at your own business, take time to recognize and celebrate the wins!


Over the next three posts, I will share the three most important things I learned as well as the actions I am taking as a result.  Here is the first one.

1.  I need...

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