You guys, seriously, what's with this virus?! We echoed the whole, "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger" all last year until we were blue in the face. This year the pulling up from the ole' boot straps began, the sun started shining, vaccines were being given, ports and resorts were reopening, guests were feeling optimistic and traveling again and...gasp...commission checks started coming in. Then...like an unwelcome party crasher, enter, The Delta Variant. (Doesn't that sound like the worst punk rock band name ever?!) Seriously, no one wants you here. Go away.
Now, this week especially I am feeling like I am slipping right back into 2020ville. Guests are getting nervous, they are watching Covid numbers rise, they are hearing scary reports on the news and as a result, cancellations are starting to ramp up. Granted, some just want to move to what will feel like a safer dot on the calendar but many are just outright cancelling wanting to free up that deposit money most likely for round two of the toilet paper hoarding. (Man, I am bitter.)
Spending money on my business is easy, even FUN when business is booming. I will breeze through my favorite big box stores like Santa grabbing EVERYTHING for my guests, I'll spring for the swanky "flat rate" shipping rates, I buy the GOOD pens for my desk, sign me up for ALL the classes, let's pay to boost some social media posts and let's DEFINITELY take that "educational" trip.
But now, as I'm scribbling "CANCELLED" on yet another brightly colored (slightly tear stained) file folder I am wondering where I should cut some corners, where should I scale back, how many more shoes can possibly drop and me still stay afloat?
Perspective people, perspective, SNAP OUT OF IT. (She says then slaps herself a la Cher in Moonstruck style) Rather than focusing on the handful (heavy handful, but still) that have cancelled I need to look around at the folders containing all the guests who HAVEN'T cancelled. Let's look back at the folder full of seemingly cold leads I've been ignoring because I've been busy servicing current guests. When things seem to get gloomy, we need to look to what IS working and stop dwelling on what isn't working.
What in my business model works the best for me? Where do I get my biggest boost of confidence from? Where are my successes coming from? We can't control this virus and we certainly can't control the public's reaction to it, but what CAN I control?
Deep breath. For me, I feel like my biggest strength is my private Facebook group dedicated to my travel business. It's where I've built a community, and it's where the majority of my leads come from. I'm so grateful that Kat Wolfe's Agent Prep Program taught me the value of and how to successfully run a group. If you are thinking of becoming a travel agent that specializes in Disney destinations, that's really where you ought to begin.
I can't let up in my private group, I have to keep the excitement of traveling alive and remind guests that "adventure is out there." It's hard sometimes to be "on" when you're feeling so incredibly off your game by the cancellation beatings.
I can also lean heavily on the Social Vault within my "Plussing It" membership when I just really need some ideas and motivation. The photos are sometimes exactly what I need to get my own idea flowing, or...just screw it, I'm using this photo today and the customizable copy that Kat WROTE FOR ME and luckily that's exactly what it's there for. A bank of, "just take this" is priceless, especially during these times of self doubt and ruts.
Maybe even more so than the material, I've leaned on the "Plussing It" community during this time when it feels like we are back to spinning our Covid muddy tires. Sure, there are Travel Agent Facebook groups out there, but this community is a group of agents that I've been learning with, cheering for as they grew their businesses (and now out from those darn Covid ashes) and there's not a single snarky, judgey, self serving member in there. It is truly a safe place and we are all very much in the trenches together. (It's like paying sorority fees, but without the nasty hazing or pressure to actually wear real clothes while I'm working.)
The monthly challenges keep me on my toes and many times it's not until after I've completed them that I realize I just stepped successfully outside of my comfort zone. The bonus features like the guest "Itinerary at a Glance" for example, are a go-to tool for me that makes me look like I'm really on my game to my guests even when I 100% feel like I'm just winging it.
The "Plussing It Launchbox" is another favorite investment of mine. Each month it arrives and somehow manages to bring along exactly whatever I needed that month. A fresh guest gift idea, something motivational that feels like it's speaking DIRECTLY to me, something to make me smile but mostly plenty of things to ignite my own creative juices.
I think the biggest thing I learned last year and am finding that I have had to remind myself of again these last couple of weeks, I NEED to continue to invest in my business and in myself. I've been on the top of the Top-Ten List in sales at my agency and I intend to stay there!
I need to continue to be networking with like-minded agents. I need to continue to have access to folks like Kat Wolfe who in all honesty, just know this business and how to market it better than I do. And, I need to tap into her skill set and her wealth of ideas to remain inspired, impassioned and positive even when that darn Delta variant is trying to zap my joy.
I remember when I first started out on this Travel Agent journey and the first bill came for all my postage my husband said, "Sometimes you have to spend money to make money." (I remind him of that every time I come home with my Five Below & Target haul.) If I continue to educate myself, surround myself with thinkers and doers while continuing to relentlessly put myself out there, this too shall pass.