Travel insights from Jennifer Dugan, chief family officer for Dugan’s Travels

Checking Out

“Checking out,” to me, used to be about leaving a hotel room on your departure day. Checking out now means what I see so many agents doing because they just cannot handle the weight of what we have been experiencing since March. To be completely transparent, I have had my own moments of wanting to toss in the towel and check out, too.

Luckily for me, those moments are very short lived because I love what I do. I also know that on the other side of this, we will be busy with travel again.

So, how do we manage the feelings of wanting to get away from what we have been experiencing?

Taking a much-needed break to reflect and recharge is always a good idea, and can be especially valuable right now since we’ve got an unusual window of downtime to take advantage of. That might mean having someone cover our business for a few days so that we can unplug completely and center ourselves again.

As the pace of the travel industry has shifted from nonstop business to an almost screeching halt within a few short months, it is no wonder agents who have been accustomed to a certain pace and volume of business are now feeling jolted and thrown into an emotional whiplash. How can we flip this unnerving change in our day-to-day lives and use it to be a blessing to our business in the long run?

For starters, this can be a time for us to focus on what we want our businesses to look like on the other side. What changes have we wanted to make? What ideas have we wanted to try? What organizational strategies or new skills have we wanted to learn to enhance and evolve our business? We can use this time to reset our vision and bring our businesses into better alignment with that vision.

It is also possible and likely that some of us will enter into reflection and ultimately decide that the passion or desire for the travel industry just isn’t there anymore, or isn’t strong enough to keep us engaged. There will be agents who decide they need to quit or retire and use this current pause in business to veer off into a more fitting career direction.

If we decide that we definitely are going to be in business next year, we need to make sure our clients know that. 2020 may seem like it is a lost year for the travel industry, but 2021 may be a very busy year for us. We will have so many clients who had to skip their 2020 vacation and may want to make up for it in 2021. They may decide that their bucket list can no longer wait. People may be willing to spend more to get what they have been dreaming of while in quarantine.

So how can we keep the spark alive in our business and keep our momentum, even in this uncertain time? Here are some ideas on ways you can keep breathing life into your business:

  • Find a few new locations close to home that you could promote. You can even reach out to hotels in your area for a staycation promotion for those who are not able to travel far due to restrictions but still need a change of scenery.
  • Are you familiar with booking VRBO’s or other options for those who want to travel but still social distance? I recently went on a road trip that allowed for social distancing. We had a wonderful property at a lake, and it was just what I needed to help my stress levels.
  • Do you have a presence online? More people are online looking at Facebook, Instagram, and other popular places than ever due to working at home or social distancing. This is not the time to go missing online. Even if you are not wanting to be online due to news or other things that you might not want to be seeing – schedule your postings so that you can be seen online. Hire someone to do your posts if you are not able to do them. There are some great social marketers who can help those who do not want to be doing their own social media.
  • Get inspiration. If you have been in the business for awhile you may have forgotten why you started your travel business. Now is the time to inspire yourself to be better and expand your horizons. Take a course on a destination you do not have knowledge of. Read a business book to learn more about growing your business. Take time to focus on your future as you did when you first started learning about travel.
  • Find a support group. There are so many travel industry support groups out there. If you are solo or your host agency does not provide such a group, you can find independent support groups so that you have people to share with. We all need someone to talk to and share ideas. Don’t be alone in this.
Making it through this time is a choice. It may not feel like it right now but we can choose to make it. The travel industry is resilient and needed. It will survive, even if lately it has felt overwhelmingly lifeless. We need to realize that although it feels like a lifetime ago, this all began only 4 months ago. We may have another 4 months to go but we have survived it so far, and we are resilient, too. If this career is something you love and want to keep building upon, don’t give up. Let’s make sure we use this time wisely, checking in with ourselves and using our inner guidance to take the next right actions instead of simply “checking out.”

About the Author

Jennifer Dugan

Jennifer Dugan founded Dugan’s Travels in 1997 with the goal to have a career while being at home with her growing family. Since that time, Jennifer and her team have created a family-friendly host agency where hundreds of agents work to realize the dream of owning a successful home-based travel business. Dugan’s Travels, now a recognized top host agency in the United States, offers comprehensive education and development programs to help agents gain knowledge, establish industry relationships, and build the confidence needed to succeed. When not working tirelessly to put her agents first, Jennifer enjoys spending time in the mountains with her husband and seven children.

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