A Fresh Look for 2017

This is a good time for travel agents to reflect on what works and what needs improvement in their business By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2017 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2017 TravelAge West

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I have a confession to make: As I write this, my attention is split between this column and an internal email exchange with the editors on staff. Like so many email rabbit holes, it began with a relatively minor question and, after much back and forth — and then even more back and forth — it has evolved into a full-blown philosophical conundrum.

Far from being annoyed, I consider this a great sign. While everyone here is busy — and some of us, ahem, have a deadline to contend with — it’s important for a team to get on the same page. Periodically checking in with each other to make sure we are all working toward the same goal is crucial to success.

And what better time for self-reflection than at the beginning of a new year?

As we kick off 2017, it’s a great time for your agency to engage in some high-level discussions as well. Check in with employees, vendors, independent contractors and anyone else who is vital to your organization. Avoid talking about today’s tasks, and instead ask everyone to step back and take a big-picture view of the year ahead. Have an honest discussion about what’s working and what needs tweaking. The goal is to reach a consensus about what problems exist and what solutions can be implemented. But even if there are no obvious fixes, at least everyone is communicating and sharing ideas, which eventually tends to result in a positive outcome.

Also, don’t limit this discussion to a set time frame. Some people will reflexively resist “wasting time” on topics that are not related to immediate business, but it’s important to support the spontaneous exchange of ideas. Good ideas don’t happen on a schedule, so stakeholders need to feel comfortable having meaningful conversations even when it may not be convenient. Of course, sometimes you need to pause a discussion to work on an immediate project, but it’s better to seize the momentum and the inspiration when it strikes.

Once you’ve determined your goals for this year, reach out to clients and see what travel goals they have, too. Good things begin with a discussion.

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