I was telling someone how much I miss commuting into New York City the other day. “The city absorbs your negative energy and helps you burn off all your worries,” I said. “When you walk through its streets, it sends a positive energy back to you and, suddenly, you feel as if you can once again conquer the world.”
Sounds a little New Age, I know, but that’s exactly what travel of all sorts does for us, doesn’t it? It forces you to confront things you don’t know and accept them or get around them. From small indignities like going through airport security, to the ultimate joy of getting a glimpse of a mother gorilla and her babies in the jungles of Uganda after trekking for hours, travel pushes us out of our comfort zones on all levels, mentally, emotionally and physically.
When I put out an all-call recently to find out if any travel advisors had traveled domestically in the past few months to put their wanderlust to rest, I was overwhelmed with the number of responses I received. Seems as if everyone I know has hit the road and realized there is great beauty and respite in places right at their virtual doorstep. The additional gift of time has made it even easier to enjoy the loveliness of the United States’ wide-open spaces. My hope is that the new passions found for the wild, wild west, RV travel and those resorts just a few miles from our homes will endure, even when international borders open up to us again. Selling domestic travel is incremental income for advisors and balances your portfolio of offerings when, ahem, international travel isn’t possible. Even before the pandemic, the popularity of luxury domestic travel was surging, as some clients simply didn’t want to take an overnight flight to get somewhere or to travel too far from home.
To dial in to what some of your colleagues have been up to this summer, check out our “Advisors on the Road” stories (Summer Of The Great American Road Trip; A Malibu Retreat: The Pearl Right In Front Of Your Eyes; Just Back: Mountain Time In Aspen, CO; Changing The Paradigm Of Luxury Travel; Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit: Traveling In The "New Normal").
Meanwhile, things are taking longer to improve than we thought they would. It’s August and back in March most of us felt that as summer ended international travel would resume for Americans. That’s all a bit fuzzy now but I have to applaud those folks who are really pushing through to keep a great attitude, even during challenging times. Aside from our “Advisors on the Road,” who are emitting nothing but joy in their photos, our cover subject, Margot Kong of Journeys Unparalleled didn’t miss a bit when COVID cancelled her family’s spring break. She instantly went to work to create a virtual vacation to the Galapagos for her daughters that went well beyond watching travel videos on TV, and when her clients saw on social media what she was doing they were hooked, too. Margot is now booking virtual vacations for her customers and keeping their love of travel alive and well.
We also caught up with Chris Austin, SVP of sales and marketing for Seabourn. Chris is one of the most joyful people I know and emits a positive energy that’s always refreshing to experience. Being in the cruise industry is a challenge these days, yet Chis has encouraging words for advisors: “Facts are powerful, so use this time to study up and then leverage that new-found knowledge and present the facts.” Clients are yearning to travel, he says, so stay in touch with them and let them guide the conversation so you can find out what their concerns are, as well as where they want to go!
Chris, like Margot Kong, does not give up easily and recommends not agonizing over things that are out of your control. More than anything, keep up a brave front, even though times are challenging. “Throwing in the towel is just not in my blood and I’m going to ensure the people I interact with see that ‘can-do’ spirit every day through words and deeds,” says Chris.From my perspective, this goes for how you present yourselves on social media these days; don’t let your clients see you lamenting this downturn in business, rather, keep them dreaming about 2021.
Lastly, it may not seem like it, but things are getting better behind the scenes. Yes, there is daily coverage of a possible vaccine against COVID being developed, which is the best news ever. However, suppliers have also been taking this time to ensure hygiene protocols are in place so we can all travel with confidence. Hotels were the first to promote what they are doing; and airlines are now taking a firm stand that all passengers wear masks. Cruise lines are developing their own protocols, which is so important as that sector of the business got so much attention as the pandemic struck and needs to earn the confidence of consumers.
Always remember that you’re not alone and your colleagues are feeling the same angst you are. For some real cheering up, please check out the stories above where you’ll get great advice, some really good ideas to pivot your business and hopefully for an hour or two, some peace of mind.