I am becoming more and more convinced that the war is not what
is holding up the economy and our travel industry. It is the fear
of a terrorist attack, in retaliation. In reality, a terrorist
strike can happen, war or no war. Once the threat of a biological
or nuclear retaliatory strike subsides, however, then there will be
a rush to buy travel again.
But, it is the media buildup of what I call the boogeyman, that
has everyone frozen in fear. When will the boogeyman strike? What
will the boogeyman do when he strikes? We cannot let fear of the
boogeyman keep this country and our businesses frozen in time. That
is what he wants. Our imagination and fear do more to cause us
economic harm that anything that has happened since Sept. 11.
Agents and people in the travel industry need to quit listening to
everything the darn consumer media says. I am sorry they are not
always right. They find the sound bites that reinforce their story
and run with those. If you were to believe the media, every hotel,
every ship and every airplane would be near-empty. If you “buy”
into their stories, then no one is going to travel farther than
their local Home Depot. Yet people are going on cruises, hotels are
filling up and airplanes are running full.
Our business in 2002 was up. Our business so far in 2003 is up.
How do we do it? We continued marketing right after Sept. 11. We
are still in the local newspaper, we still do broadcast e-mails, we
do consumer shows, we still do direct mail, and we are still busy
Finally, a word to all travel agency owners: Times have never
been so good, as now, to cut deals. In the last couple of months, I
have been approached by professional sports teams, the Yellow
Pages, online sites, tanning salons and other businesses all
looking for marketing partners. Many times, the deals they at first
offer are the same old tired ones, which I quickly reject. Then I
start asking what else can we do to work together.
If you are hunkered down, hiding and not marketing, I know your
phones are not ringing and it is becoming a self-fulfilling
prophecy. Raise your head up, advertise, do a direct-mail piece
(although, maybe not for a Holy Land trip), promote, advertise,
think outside the box people are still traveling and they are
looking to you for ideas.