I'm like many people who go about the daily chores of running a business and pay little attention to the underlying organizational structure of the business. A model of how your business works can help you organize tasks in a way that will increase your effectiveness and sales.
I recently encountered a model in the book "Action, With Traction," by Ron Sarazin. I read the book and some lights began turning on in my brain. In this article I've adapted Mr. Sarazin's ideas to the travel consulting business.
We go about our day as travel consultants booking vacations, organizing paperwork, keeping up with the accounting chores in addition to many other activities that keep our business running. These tasks are included in the diagram titled, "Daily Tasks to Maintain Your Business."
Another bubble in the diagram is "Training and Development." We must build our product knowledge to increase our sales. The client puts trust in the travel consultant to give them the best information and advice about their dream vacation. This knowledge comes from familiarization trips, supplier seminars, certification programs and attending travel related conferences.
The last bubble in the diagram is, "Problem Solving and Customer Support." In this bubble you are helping clients solve problems such as missed flight connections, over booked hotels and a myriad of other problems encountered when your client is traveling. Customer support is helping your client navigate through hundreds of vacation options. It includes the personal touches for your clients you obtain through your suppliers and the welcome home call you make to your client to hear about the vacation you booked for them.
The main task in viewing your work within this diagram is to discover where your time is best invested to increase your business. For instance, the airline industry sells a commodity product, airline seats. Generally you can choose several different airlines to take you to your destination. Since airlines are selling the same commodity they have to find ways that will set them apart from the competition. Ask yourself, "is that competitive difference in the daily tasks performed by the airlines?" Maybe to some degree but most travelers aren't concerned about how the baggage handling or reservation process works. Travelers are concerned about how quickly and efficiently problems are solved when something goes wrong with their baggage or reservation. Airlines should focus on customer support and problem solving if they want repeat business and referels from their customers.
The value you offer your clients is in the area of customer support and problem solving. Online travel booking engines can not do this as well as you. Your knowledge, training and experience is another area where online travel booking engines can't compete. When you combine problem solving, customer support, knowledge, training and experience, you have an unbeatable combination.
So what do you do with those day to day tasks? You eliminate them or reduce their time committment. You find a host agency that has strong back office support and marketing for their agents. You hire people to maintain your web site and social media connections. If you have sufficient sales volume, you hire a bookkeeper or accountant to keep you on track. The important idea is that you look for ways to increase your time and efficiency in the top level bubbles. This will work to the goal of increasing your sales and resulting income.