|Pictured with me (right) is Alex Sharpe, president and CEO of the
Signature Travel Network.
I recently returned from Signature Travel Network’s annual conference, where the message was clear: Sales are up, attendance is up, everything is up, up and up. I can assert that all tides are rising, and if you are not doing well in today’s market then something is wrong. Though, even with all indicators on the rise, innovation, technology and corporate greed, aiming to cut out any third-party commissions, if possible, are always on the horizon. Is Airbnb a threat? I say it’s an opportunity, as others will enter the space, and embrace the travel trade channel. You can look to Ireland, which has embraced B&B’s for ages, and pays agency commission. I recently read about a new online service called DUFL, which stores your clothing and ships it to your hotel, pressed and cleaned, and picks up as well. In essence, it is a clothing cloud for frequent travelers. What’s next? World Uberization of services, from mechanics to lawyers to travel advisors?
In my opinion, we will once again see a rise in consolidation of agencies. This slowed down during the recession but is back with renewed vigor. What I learned from the last surge of consolidation is that many agencies and agents undervalued themselves as assets and gave their businesses away, as the consolidators aggregated services and fees to pull in higher profits to then sell to the highest bidder. Basically, it meant selling a business on revenue that they didn’t own; rather, it was all based on an IC’s portfolio that can move freely to a host agency or competitive agency. I would recommend understanding the value you bring to an agency; don’t let anyone roll you up into a sale without getting a piece of the action. Remember, you and your client database are the assets for sale.
To keep those assets healthy and growing, stay close to your consortia and value the products and tools they give you to increase profits. The days of needing a roof over your head are over, as most of you work either at home or as travel nomads, exploring and testing out experiences for your clients throughout the world.