Interviewing: Chad Burt, Co-Owner – Cruises & Tours Unlimited / OutsideAgents.com
An Interview By: Joanie Ogg, Co-Founder – Travel Professional NEWS
I had the pleasure of connecting with my long-time friend and colleague Chad Burt, Co-Owner of Cruises & Tours Unlimited and OutsideAgents.com about a fun new endeavor he and his team have taken on. Yes, they are making masks! Super fun and travel-motivating masks for all of us to wear and share to get the travel bug going strong again. Join me as Chad shares more about how this idea came to him and where they are taking it.
I’m really excited about this. You had asked me for a pic wearing one of your masks and the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I love the vibe. We need that kind of positivity now like never before. Where did you get started with this idea?
Writing entrepreneurship course and COVID hit and stayed. By the end of May, I was seeing how bummed agents and clients were. I was sick of the pandering, fear, mask debates, and all the uncertainty. I was seeing how bummed agents and clients were. There was so much negativity, especially in our industry, that I was starting to go crazy. The media was crushing our spirits and it was palpable. I needed to break the ice…you know, flip the script. Out of frustration, I made a mask that said, “If you can read this, you’re standing too close.” I got a few laughs and had an idea.
Uh oh. I’ve been working with you for a long time. I know what happens when you get an idea, especially from making people laugh. What happened next?
Well, I was in the middle of writing an Entrepreneurship class for our new Master Business Development course. Two of my main points involved creating something new from the resources you have and the idea that failure isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. I realized I could create a new normal by creating the new normal. In other words, I’d change the way people thought and felt by making them laugh at uncomfortable stuff. At worst, I’d prove to my agents that trying something and failing was than doing nothing plus, you learn a lot.
So, you were on a mission. For those of you that don’t know, I first met Chad when he and his cousin Steve were just starting OutsideAgents.com. They were on a mission then, that’s for sure. You guys had around 100 agents or so at the time, right?
Yeah, our motto was “Don’t look at the man behind the green curtain.” We were in “fake it until you make it” mode. It was the tail end of the Great Recession and we figured “What’s the worst that could happen.” We didn’t have much, our parent company was on the ropes, so we threw a hail Mary. Breaking the mold seems to work out for us.
It sure does. I think you have around 6000 agents now. An amazing success story, Chad. Knowing you, I suspect you had a plan behind this new endeavor of bringing some humor and attitude adjustment to help agents feel some joy.
I wanted people to, like my kid’s football coach says, “embrace the suck.” I wanted people to change their mind set, their perspective. I wanted people to connect a smile with the thought of travel. The vibe had to change and I figured we could do it one smile at a time. It may sound “out there,” but I’m a big believer in the butterfly effect: If you can go back in time and some tiny thing you do can change the present dramatically, why can’t you make a small change now and change the future?
I love people that are “out there.” I’m a little like that. Maybe it’s a California thing. So, how’d you make the leap from “If you can read this, you’re too close,” to where you are now? I have to share that I actually purchased a mask with a photo of my St. Bernard, Cali that said 6 feet back please.
You mean “This is my vacation face” and “Have mask, will travel?” Well, that’s where Dave, my CTO. He’s the guy I rely on to sand my edges creatively and make cool things out of my crazy ideas. He really stepped up. He came up with the slogans and art. I was blown away. As usual, he took a simple notion and made something really cool out of it. He had a buddy that did the first batch of masks for us. Once people saw them, they really took off. People are really feeling the vibe…
I love it! In fact, here’s a picture of me wearing one. I’m definitely onboard. But, what’s in it for you? What are you getting out of all of this?
Cash, lots and lots of cash. I’ve already made $55.04! The way I figure it, I only need to sell 922,272 masks per month to pay my overhead! No. That’s not it. Actually, getting smiles on people’s faces and spreading some positivity about travel is all I’m really after. Look, social media is great, but nothing replaces the real world. My hope is that this will spill over into peoples lives in different ways but, ultimately, they’ll book travel sooner if they feel better in general. These masks are one small step.
If I didn’t know you, this might sound a lot like blue sky, but I know you and I love your spirit, Chad. I noticed that you haven’t even mentioned where agents can get your masks, so I will. Everyone, you need to go to masks4travel.com. If you want to know more, check out masks4travel.com/why. There’s a password. It’s oastrong. Thank you so much Chad for sharing this with our readers. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yeah. Joanie, the support we’ve gotten from everyone – agents, clients, crew, friends, family, and, especially, you – has made all of this fun and totally worthwhile. With this kind of support, we’ll hit our goal of 10000 smiles in the next 30 days or, at least, have a blast trying.