If you’re considering what 2020 might be looking like as a luxury travel advisor, there are several risk assessments you can put in to place now to avoid frustration and angst just as the new decade is starting.

Beginning with a very obvious and basic risk, it might snow this winter. Let’s say this one has a 99 percent chance of occurring: How can you head off the following scenario now, rather than wishing you had planned ahead?

Let’s just say that you wake up one morning and there’s a blizzard all across the U.S., or at least in Chicago, which is usually good enough to mess flights up for the entire country.

Ruthanne Terrero

Virtually all of your clients are flying somewhere on this day (of course) and by 7 a.m. they’re all emailing you, calling you or texting you to fix their flights because they’re all canceled. Their annual vacations are at peril and cruise ships are leaving without them. The best part? Your plan for today was to work on that $250,000 itinerary for that super-affluent client who is taking his family and his family’s family to Africa this spring. You’d actually promised to have the details for him this evening.

That’s not happening and at this moment, you’re once again wishing you worked in the flower shop at the mall instead of being a travel advisor.

How can you head off this very viable scenario? It’s going to happen at least once in 2020. What if right now, in October, you sought out a temporary assistant who could help you during such weather crises? How about finding another independent advisor and forming a mutual support relationship so you can help each other out during times of crisis? There are a number of solutions to such an ordeal and you’ve got months to pick one out.

Plot out some other potential risks for 2020. A large part of your clientele may remain curious to try out Airbnb next year. What if you proactively sent out promotional materials on the suppliers you work with now that provide luxury home stays and followed up in a month or two with a phone call to your clients? Push the experience to them before they go wandering and book it themselves.

Another: What if your clients go on a cruise next June and meet another travel advisor who convinces them to switch to her agency because she’s got better deals? This is a conversation you should have with your client now, so they’ll just chuckle and turn the other way when she tries to lure them in.

In determining your risks for next year jot down a list of those “what ifs” that keep you up at night. Have a conversation with other advisors about the bad things that have happened to them over the past few years and safeguard your business by planning for these worst-case scenarios.

In our cover story this month, Tom Mieczynski of Donovan Travel says that he is planning to purchase a few travel agencies in the near future. He’s growing by acquisition. “If you’re not growing in this business, you’re dying,” he tells us. However, he realizes the advisors at these agencies will be retiring at the time of acquisition and so he’s strategizing to find new advisors now. That’s certainly future-proofing your business; he did the same thing when he switched his focus from corporate travel to luxury travel because corporate customers can disappear when they go through a merger or are sold.

For more on Tom, read his story here and let us know how you’re preparing your businesses for 2020.

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