On Valentine’s Day, thoughts turn to love, and it is a great time to show the people in your life how much you appreciate them. Of course, we all know that it is important to show that love 365 days of the year, and there are a lot of different ways to do that.
We talk about showing love to clients in business, but how often do we think about how a travel agency’s owners and leaders show how much they love YOU? At the heart of every travel agency – whether it is a brick-and-mortar agency, a host agency, or a franchise – is the travel advisor. After all, the travel advisor is the one who serves the clients making the bookings that bring in the money!
Inspired by the book, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I came up with my list of how travel agency owners and managers show their love (or lack of love) to travel agents – not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year:
- Attractive commissions and commission splits. At the heart of how a travel advisor makes money is commission. While it isn’t the only way to make money, it is mainly the income for most agents. So, does your agency give you maximum opportunities to earn commission? I don’t think an agency exists that has top commission levels for every single supplier, but do they consistently lobby for higher commissions and not just back-end overrides that you don’t share in? Do they give you maximum commission splits (up to 100%) so as your sales grow your income grows? Money isn’t the most important thing in the world, but it is a critical factor in the success of your business.
- Travel opportunities. Let’s be honest – no one got into this business because they love the idea of marketing and accounting. It’s because they love to travel, and everyone wants to do that! Great travel agencies share those incredible travel opportunities throughout the organization. They don’t just use FAMS and other travel perks as rewards for top producers. Of course, in some agencies, there are so many people in the agency that you would be lucky to ever see a FAM opportunity. Sure, top producers should have great travel opportunities, but so should up-and-coming agents, and those who are just getting started. In some agencies, the travel opportunities never trickle down below the owners. That is extremely short-sighted because these trips lead to sales. If they didn’t, partners wouldn’t offer them!
- Great education. Knowledge is the heart of growing your business and being successful. Period. Many agencies focus solely – or almost solely – on vendor education because vendors pay for it. Don’t get me wrong, vendor education is very important, it should not all be vendor education. You need updates from those travel partners you work with a lot and hear from those you might not know about. But there are so many other topics you need education on, marketing, social media, finances – all topics related to the success of your business.
- They are there for you. How often do you hear from the top leadership in your agency? Are they actively involved, or are they more involved with rubbing elbows with vendors and other agency owners? Supposedly they are the owners of the agencies because of their business savvy in the travel industry. How are they using that to assist you? Do they share that wisdom? Do they get involved and assist when you have a problem with a vendor? Or are they isolated?
- There is so much to be said for being part of an organization with a positive culture. A place where colleagues are supportive of each other. A place where ideas and information are exchanged, not hoarded out of fear of competition. Great leaders build communities like that. Leaders who try to lead from a place of fear or information hoarding are never successful. They might achieve a few things in the short term, but they will never build a great organization that can soar. The best agencies educate, challenge, and inspire you regularly. You can feel the love from the community – even if you are all spread across the country and don’t see one another regularly.
So, how does your agency measure up? Whether you are an employee in a brick-and-mortar agency or part of a host agency, how are they showing you the love? If you have agents working with you or for you, how are you showing you appreciate them? It’s never too late to course-correct! Just like with romantic relationships, you can’t buy candy and flowers just on Valentine’s Day and then withhold love the other 364 days of the year!