Written By: Chad Burt, Co-Owner – OutsideAgents.com
Our Pivot Perspective as a travel professional
I’ve been around successful business people for a long time, mostly as their waiter. For the past couple of decades, though, I’ve gotten to sit at the table with many of them, almost always with Steve. Steve is my cousin, closest friend, and business partner at OutsideAgents.com. We’ve been through some stuff over the years, and spent a lot of time together. Let me put that in pivot perspective as Travel Professional for you.
I know Steve’s left ear better than I know the back of my own hand. I should, his desk is to my right. I’ve spent more time awake and within 12 feet of him, than I have my wife; 36,784 hours as of this sentence, to be exact. Along the way, we’ve both learned a lot about each other, and, most importantly, how we see things. Short story: Zig-zag, ying-yang, stay-go, left-right…you name it, and we see it differently. We always have a different perspective as Travel Professional; and we’re grateful for it. It’s that difference that gives our vision depth. It’s that difference, and how guided us during Covid, that I want to share with you.
Pivot or Perish.
For a year, that’s been the general consensus. Well, for us, “Perish” wasn’t an option, so that left Steve and I with “Pivot.” Pretty simple, right? Sure. First, though, we had to agree on what it meant.
Steve saw pivoting as changing who we are as a company and was dead set against it.
I saw pivoting as avoiding a big defensive lineman with a zig and a zag. Same player. Same game. Just a different path to the goal, and I’m all about goals.
Our different perspectives, and quite a bit of healthy debate, allowed us to see what we needed to do:
Pivot, but don’t change!
We show strength by not changing. We stand strong. We are confident in who we are and where we are going, there’s no need to change that. The course, though, may need adjustments.
For example, we’ve always been about empowering agents by teaching them how to do things for themselves. It’s who we are, no need to change that. During Covid, though, we soon realized that our agents wanted to do “things,” but weren’t quite sure what those “things” were. So, we deployed META, our Marketing Exchange for Travel Agents, through our partnership with TIMA, the Travel Industry Marketing Association. Through our partnership, we were able to deliver thousands of images, hashtags, blog posts, videos, and more, all ready to go. Agents can customize them, or use them as is. Regardless, we put what they needed in their hands for them to use as they deemed best.
Then, we realized, agents were drowning in resources as vendors gave them marketing materials to promote their brands and manage consumer sentiment through communications. So, we built our MAGmms Toolbox, to bring marketing, education, and content all together and show agents exactly what to do with it.
Even as I type, we’re deploying MAGlms2.5. It’s the next generation in learning management from the most awarded agent development system in the industry today and we designed it to help agents navigate the sea of information in front of them.
We have more coming soon, but the point is, we adjusted course to address the winds of Covid, but we didn’t change the ship we’re sailing.
For example, we’re committed to our employees and their families. So, nobody’s pay was cut, hours reduced, or position eliminated despite the common wisdom to conserve cash during bad times.
We also, knew that our agents we’re struggling and that every dime mattered. Helping others is important to us, so, we gave everyone a 2% commission increase and haven’t reduced anyone’s commission due to low sales.
We’re also very much into paying it forward. We knew our vendor partners were in perilous waters, so, when the co-op ran dry, we kept marketing for them. We knew it would benefit everyone down the road.
The point here is to not change your destination, or who you are, just because the winds change. You should, however, adjust your course when the world changes. Just be sure to look at things from more than just a single angle. You need a pivot perspective. You are, after all, the Captain of a ship sailing in uncharted waters.