Editor's Letter: Protect The Values You Renewed During COVID

I love the way Jeffrey Traugot speaks about his colleagues in the travel industry in this month’s cover story. He considers many travel industry representatives to be his friends; there’s almost a familial sense in the way he describes them. Listening to Jeff recount his relationships with a long list of travel folks brought me back to the earlier days of the travel industry and by that, I mean circa 2019 and prior. The bon vivant attitude that defined luxury travel meant that very often what we did all day didn’t really feel like work, it was more of a lifestyle where you got to hang out with your favorite people, craft amazing itineraries for clients, and even share hard-earned knowledge with advisors who could potentially be competitors. That thought rarely occurred to most, though, since there was so much business to go around.

The pandemic didn’t destroy that congenial environment but in many ways it gave our relationships sharper edges. Some suppliers behaved, let’s call it, “poorly,” and didn’t execute well with refunds and cancellations. Some host agencies didn’t support their independent contractors as well as they could have. However, many suppliers did perform well and most host agencies knocked it out of the park in terms of communicating with their advisors, relaxing monthly fees and simply being there every day for their members who were grasping for the edge of a virtual life raft being tossed around a most turbulent ocean.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Questex Travel and
Meetings Group

And, at the end of it all, how many virtual hugs were shared on Zoom between suppliers and advisors and heck, didn’t that catch phrase, “We’re all in this together,” really mean something for at least a few months? 

I’m hearing these days that luxury travel advisors are extremely busy with new business coming in, but I’m here to warn you not to get so tied up in day-to-day activities that you’re not fine-tuning your business models. 

How are you going to make more money this year? What limitations will you put on your business so that it’s not running you into the ground? How will you protect your family time that you grew to appreciate so much during COVID lockdown? If you’re not mindful of putting a velvet rope around what you care about the most, 2022 is going to be all about your clients texting you on a Sunday morning with changes to their Hawaii vacation in July that need to be taken care of ASAP.

You’ve heard advice on hitting the reset button before but double down on taking it seriously this time. From where I sit I get the vibe that many luxury travel advisors are going right back into a lifestyle where their business rolls right over them because of the demands from clients and challenges with suppliers. 

If this sounds like you, make a list that comprises what you don’t want to have happen in 2022. Reflect on instances in the past that ruined family moments or simply tore you apart with stress.

Then make a list of your best professional moments so you can plan how to have more of those this year. Traveling somewhere new will likely be at the top but consider how Jeffrey Traugot enjoys his daily routines because they’re filled with people he loves working with. His business model isn’t all that complex but it’s a good one. And because he enjoys his days, his passion fuels profits, so he’s successful to boot.

For more on Jeffrey Traugot, read our cover story, and don’t forget to start making that list right now.

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