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READY, SET, GROW! – Designing your Travel Business for the New Decade

Written By: Cris De Souza, Vice President, Sales & Marketing – Nexion Travel Group



Are you wanting to ensure you are aligning your passion and purpose for your travel agency in the new decade? Are you happy with your level of success in your business today? Do you want a little more success? In this month’s column, I’m going to share the first three of seven steps to move your business from where you are to where you want to be. (We’ll cover the remaining four steps in next month’s column.)


Whether you’ve been in the business for six months or six years, these seven steps will help you become a travel marketing ninja:

1. Discover (identity)
2. Define (mission, lifestyle)
3. Align (model)
4. Brand (positioning)
5. Market (publish, network)
6. Monetize (conversion)
7. Optimize (impact, leverage)


Let me preface these steps with the notion that many entrepreneurs make the mistake of marketing their business first when establishing or reinventing their business. You’ll notice in these seven steps, however, that brand and market don’t come into play until steps four and five. If you follow these steps in this order (in a pyramid from the bottom to top), it will lead to impact and transformation. So, let’s get started on the first three steps!


Step 1: Discover (identity)

Step one is all about identity. To brand ourselves, we must understand ourselves. This is about discovering who you really are and not who people told you to be. This is about your talents, natural gifts and innate abilities. Spending time to work on your true nature identity work is critical, as it’s the foundation of the pyramid and your business. Everything else builds upon that. An analogy: If you have a house that’s not built on a strong foundation, what happens? You have integrity issues, and you’re out of alignment.


There are lots of fun tests and books out there to help you better understand who you are and your types, such as Clifton Strengths (formerly Strength Finders). While these resources are impactful, you can also identify your game by answering a few, simple questions:

  • What do you lose time doing?
  • What do you look forward to doing the most?
  • What were you like as a child?
  • Are you extroverted or introverted?
  • What do people always come to you for?
  • What do you HATE doing the most?


What is the outcome of discovering your identity, aligning to that true identity and living that identity, or living in the “flow?” It brings authenticity, and when we are living from that authentic place, it brings more joy.


Step 2: Define (mission, lifestyle)

For step two, we look at how we want to live our lives. This is all about defining your mission and your lifestyle. Ultimately this boils down to vision. Once we know who we are, what’s very close to the surface of that is “What do we want?” Desire!


That desire is the fuel. Have you ever really wanted something? Like A LOT, more than anything you’ve ever wanted before? Did you get it? Why? Because you had that desire. Desire is very closely linked to who we are. Who we are influences what we desire, and that desire gives us fuel for action.


When we speak about desire, we’re usually talking about two things – one is lifestyle. We must know what we desire first before we create the business that aligns with the lifestyle we want.


What do most of us do instead? We do what’s safe. We end up working to get the lifestyle, and we think, “I’ll work, so I can get the lifestyle. One day, later, once I start making money and figuring all this out, THEN I’ll have the lifestyle I want.”


So, what’ the problem with that approach? Today is the only guarantee. And you’ll never get there, because satisfaction is always on the other side of “someday, maybe.” Don’t let your life pass you by with “somedays” and “maybes” without ever expressing your most amazing gifts and without ever doing the work you wanted to do – or without contributing your maximum potential for others. Have the courage to live a life true to yourself. If you can desire a lifestyle, you can desire a mission to be fulfilled. If you want your desire to be fueled to maximum potential, you need both lifestyle and mission/purpose/movement.


A short exercise to help you define your vision is to think about the long term and the short term. For example, ask yourself, “In 10 years (or some other “long time”), I will be …” For the short term, ask yourself, “In the next year, I will …”


Another way to think about your vision and your mission is to ask yourself, “Why are you here?” or “What is your purpose?”


Defining Your Mission Statement

It’s OK to feel like you haven’t found your purpose – we’ve all been there. Here’s an exercise to help those who feel a little lost refine and crystalize their purpose or mission statement.


Your mission statement is a succinct summary of what your business does, for whom and why. Start with a mission statement that gives YOU clarity, and then you can think about wordsmithing it and if you want to use it in your branding or marketing.


Mission statements can evolve and grow with your business, but at any given time should capture the essence of what you do.


Answering these questions will help you with defining your mission and lifestyle. Fill in these blanks:

I help _________ (who do you serve?) do _________ (how do you serve them; what do you do for/with them?), so that ___________ (why do you do this and what is the greater purpose?).


Step 3: Align (model)

Once we know who we are, and we’ve defined our mission, lifestyle and vision and what it is that we really want, we can align the model and choose the business model that connects with this mission, vision, purpose and passion.
A goal from a model perspective is to have “monthly recurring revenue.” It’s leveraged value; you’re creating something bigger with impact. You’re aligning the relationship between the business model and the lifestyle, the money and the impact. If you can achieve that, you will have freedom and prosperity, and you will enjoy your profession much more.


You could be saying, “Maybe I should be a frontline travel advisor specializing in destination weddings and romance travel, because there’s a gap in my local market.” But, when you start doing the work, let’s say you find out you’re not a detail-oriented supporter, and perhaps the model of frontline sales with wedding planners may make you miserable. You’re not going to be happy, and you’re going to resent your business, because it’s not aligned with your true nature and innate gifts. Does that make sense?


It’s important to take the time in this step before you brand to know who you are and what makes you happy – align your model. For example, if you are interested in golf, you may want to align yourself with the PGA, or if you’re interested in ecotourism, you may want to partner with a non-profit company.


You must look at the business model that would work well for you. Creating a system or a process that continues to generate revenue, where you can be more creative, have increased energy and vibration – be energy rich. You create your world by how you show up, where you can optimize the system and generate revenue.


Join me next month as we conclude the seven steps for business growth with brand, market, monetize and optimize. This will give you some time to focus on evaluating your purpose, defining your mission and vision and aligning the model. Until then, stay happy and healthy!


You can also listen to a webinar, where I, along with members of the Nexion Travel Group team, talk more about this seven-step formula to grow your travel business. Visit