Everyone I bump into these days, asks me how is it being a travel agent, during the crazy year of Covid-19? In a word, challenging!
It started in March, having been on a roll for the year so far, I was having my best year yet! Many people in many industries say that. 2020, for many of us was shaping up to be a good year financially, with business growth, etc. Then COVID! Quickly, all the work I had done to plan many amazing trips was unraveling. Many of my clients still wanted to travel, but it just wasn’t happening. Cruises cancelled, hotels shut down, tour companies cancelling, airlines limiting routes, it felt like quite a disaster. I was looking at 100% of my earnings for the year, down the drain. I was also working full time processing cancellations, while my earnings drained out. I had a few bad days back in March, some tearful, some angry, mostly frustrated.
I pulled up my big girl pants and took a deep breath, this was all out of my hands, so stop the painful thinking. I decided to just regroup. Most importantly, take care of my clients, those having to cancel, those with travel plans throughout the year, those with no travel on the books, I just wanted them to know I was there for them. They are my reason for being. They bring me the amazing trips that I get to plan, learn about destinations, meet amazing tour guides, travel with many of them, they are my gift. So they come first! I did all I could to make sure they all came out of this as whole as possible financially and with little stress.
Then I decided to look at my business. I am learning this year, to live on no income. My husband and I are surviving. So, that blew away any scarcity mentality lingering there in the back of my brain. I took a good hard look at my business and restructured. What do I REALLY want to be doing? What type of clients do I really want to work with? What kind of relationship and development do I want to offer my associates? When you are in the midst of it all, and being a small business owner, you don’t really get much time to think these things through. You just forge ahead and keep growing your business, but maybe, just maybe, is it growing in the way you really want? Are you really happy committing the time and energy to it? I feel really good right now about where I am heading. I feel like this forced fresh start is doing me a world of good.
Next, I trained. I am taking social media classes, learning to and redesigning my entire website (why not make sure it matches my renewed business model). I have taken a class in photography so I can take better pictures when I travel. I have trained with many destination tourist boards, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Ireland, lots of places I am interested in taking travelers. I have so many fantastic ideas buzzing around and after all this new information has time to settle in, I will be offering some amazing trips. So much promise for when travel picks up again.
Finally, I have rested! When I decided to leave corporate America and start my own business, people kept telling me, “When you own your own business, you will never work harder in your life.” This is true! You wear so many hats and work lots of hours. But hopefully, being your own business owner, you are doing what you love. But still, rest is essential. Downtime allows ideas to flow and gets the creative juices moving. I have been gardening, completing unfinished projects around the house, and just resting…feels nice :).
So there you have it. New bookings are coming in again, slow but sure. I feel renewed and rested. I feel like my business is on an even better track. This time, all in all, has had benefits. Sometimes in life, you have to skip over the bad, and find the good. Right now, it feels good.
Thanks for reading!