Jenn Lee is vice president of sales and marketing at Travel Planners International.
As I travel and connect with hundreds of travel industry partners and advisors across the country, it is clear that we are certainly a happy, joyful and grateful group of people. I am amazed at what we have been able to accomplish with no less Herculean effort to get the world back on track.
Social media feeds are full of evidence that the world is traveling again. The family finally takes this cruise. Baby boomers are ticking off their travel bucket list. Predictions for premium travel demand have come true. Business conferences are held and filling up. Airports are overflowing. Cruise lines have entire fleets back in the water, with sailing dates open through 2025. World cruises and long voyages sold out in hours. My LinkedIn feed contains dozens of “I am proud to announce that I have accepted a position with X Travel Company” posts. And reports that hotels cannot find or hire enough staff to meet reservations are a double-edged sword, but reflect strong demand.
Take-out? We’re back, baby!
Without us even realizing it, it’s clear now that we’ve been holding our breath for two and a half years. Before, with every piece of good news, there were the “the other shoe just dropped” moments that broke up the forward motion. Even now, I believe we are still afraid of exhaling.
Who can blame us? After all, look what we’ve been through.
• Leaders: You have carried the weight of the future of our beloved industry for over two years. Outwardly, you had no choice but to be a positive and supportive figure, knowing that you were responsible for the health and well-being of those in your care. Tired and stressed advisors relied on their agency, host or consortium leaders to provide guidance and support so their clients could be served, even though many leaders were unsure where the path was headed.
And there was the unspoken challenge that your family was “losing” you (mentally) because you had no choice but to use every bit of your energy to serve others. Without missing a beat, you took action, used your gifts and talents and moved your teams forward, one step each day, guiding them with empathy and determination.
Admiration and appreciation run deep for each of you – we couldn’t have done it with you!
• Advisors: I’m not sure anyone in your life can imagine what it felt like to guide clients through the menagerie of choice, disappointment and confusion.
More industry voices
• Helen Coiro: cruise lines must stay the course on Covid rules
• Frank Belzer: What Google Analytics Can’t Tell You
• Nicky Fitzgerald: Our business is based on partnerships. Really.
These clients have turned to you to fill in the gaps of the unknown, justify the unjustifiable, and answer questions no one else knew the answer to. The endless wait times you endured, only to be hooked up with well-meaning (and exhausted) call center reps who couldn’t keep up with the rules and exceptions, relying on technology that doesn’t. was not adequate or designed to support the constantly changing information being disseminated. You did all of this without getting paid and in some cases with remembered commissions – the money you knew you had earned was just sucked out of your bank accounts.
You are all real rockstars!
• BDM and National Account Managers: The travel industry is a relationship business, and you were hired for your ability to build strong face-to-face relationships and strategize to grow the business with travel advisors. The loss of your co-workers – your teammates – and call center reps has left you with no choice but to fill gaps in customer service and coverage, troubleshoot issues, and interpret rules that no one else has. could not follow. You have become a miracle worker, protecting the relationships you have built over years and serving your employers well.
Many of you have done superbly – and you are shining bright these days!
• TMC: I can only imagine how it must have felt to receive email after email, phone call after phone call extending the “no-travel” periods imposed by your corporate clients. Decades of working on managing relationships, fine-tuning RFPs to win the market and then, poof, it was all gone, without your permission or your ability to do anything fast enough to make a difference.
We see you, and you come back!
• Those who join us: We know it has been difficult to watch from the sidelines, frustrated at not being able to do more to help while waiting for the call to get you back in the game. We have certainly missed you, although we were often very jealous that your enforced sabbaticals have at least given you precious and incredibly rewarding months with your families. You shared your beautiful stories, often acknowledging that you were aware that those who worked were also wasting time with their families.
Be aware of all this, and when you return, be kind, supportive and above all, thank them!
I share all of this to say: We have proven that we can accomplish anything when we come together. We seem to be on the other side of this mess and are so much stronger for it.
It’s okay, friends. You can exhale now.