Written By: Jenn Lee, Vice President of Sales and Marketing – Travel Planners International
When faced with a BIG challenge, usually one where you have little to no control, our natural instinct is to choose between FIGHT or FLIGHT. When you are a business, and you want to stay in business, FLIGHT is not an option – only FIGHT.
We know you get this…you just went through this as well.
The question becomes what type of FIGHTER are you, and who are you FIGHTING?
This is the question we asked ourselves in March at TPI when the world ceased as we knew it, and all eyes were directed towards protecting ourselves against COVID-19 and altering our businesses to address the change.
We realized that the FIGHT we desired was to reach our ultimate goal; to be a positive and lasting influence on travel advisors and agency owners throughout the lifecycle of their business. From the initial spark of interest, joining the industry, gaining knowledge and confidence along the way, advising and guiding as they scaled their businesses, and then finally, with great pride and joy, we want to be there to toast them as they exit the industry leaving they legacy plan for the next generation.
Challenge: Question to ask yourself.
What is your ultimate goal? What or who are you really fighting for?
While not ditching our foundational structure, we knew that many things had to change – instantly. We had to liberate our business – STAT! Make quick moves, evaluate what we were currently doing, question what we knew to be “true and real,” and adopt an Infinite Game mindset.
Coined by author and business consultant Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game mindset directs your attention away from simply solving a problem, launching a program, trying to keep up, or beat your competitors to directing your attention both internally and externally to “beating yourself.”
Simon Sinek breaks it down to five elements to playing the Infinite Game, and we think this applies to even the smallest of travel agency owners and advisors
Having a Just Cause:
What is the “cause” that may not even exist in today’s state, that is worth fighting for? Some refer to it as vision, which is fine…but having a cause is something you can get others on board with you! Running a travel agency is not a solo game!
Developing Trusting Teams:
Without skipping a beat – they LOVE working with and for you! They commit to the process, everyone values each other, and works to take care of one another. Do you have a trusting team? Check out your travel partners, your Host or Consortia…make sure they LOVE you!
Identify a Worthy Rival:
Who do you admire in business? What is it that they do that makes you envious and wishing you had some of “that.” Or who DOESN’T do it right and gives our profession a bad name or look. Once identified, make them your worthy rival. It’s not about beating them; it’s about bettering yourself to ensure you serve your just cause!
Possess Existential Flexibility:
“Blow it up, or someone else will.” Simon Sinek says it so perfectly, referring to your business. When faced with changes out of your control, step out of what you know to be “true and real” and make BIG strategic shifts without hesitation that will win the day. You may have thought that “being on your own” or negotiating contracts directly with suppliers means you have more control, but in reality, it may mean you have less influence and support. While being the “cruise guru” of your neighborhood served you well in good times, not having a solid understanding of other travel types has burnt many in 2020. What strategic shifts need to be made to better or advance your cause? Technology, strategy, partnerships? You must possess the willingness to make these shifts at all costs.
Courage to Lead:
This one is hard. Like, really hard. Especially when the stakes are high. The pressure is on when you see years of hard work disappear and your bank account dwindling to make reactive, finite decisions for short term gain. Know your cause, stick to your guns, your newly formed processes, and LEAD with courage through the changes and choices.
Craft an internal statement that you read every day.
Here’s how it ended up looking at TPI:
“With the TRAVEL ADVISOR as our just cause, we continue to develop and nurture our trusting teams, and identify our worthy rival; the public’s misconception of the value travel advisors bring to ones’ life. We knew this rival had to be someone who made us look at our assumptions and weaknesses and motivate us to win against them. It became easy to possess existential flexibility, make profound strategic shifts, create new policies and programs, and reinvest monetarily, even when it was super scary to do so. We leaned on our courage to lead, asked the tough questions, and demanded more from our partners and ourselves; unapologetically, to serve our just cause – the travel advisor!”
We encourage you to do the same thing. Examine how you view your role in your business. Set your focus on betting and winning against yourself. We feel confident that you will experience the same energy that comes from knowing that no matter what happens to you, you’ll be FIGHTING the right opponent!