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Short term memory loss hurting agents

Short-term memory loss on mistakes hurts travel agents.

Short-term memory loss on mistakes hurts travel agents.



“Turn it off and walk away
Don’t look down into those waves
You’ll never be the same again
And we all suffer short term memory loss
From time to time.”


I love this song and it’s beautiful, if not disturbing lyrics. They capture something very human, which is that we can be selectively quick to forget. It’s happening again in the travel industry.

Wake up sunshine. Don’t let it be your loss.

The Science

Here is a fantastic article which sums up the human and scientific side of “selective” memory loss.

One of my favourite quotes, often attributed to Einstein (but possibly not his) is:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.

Mistake 1 – A rebrand is not always a new company

At WTM a few years ago one of the biggest bits of news was a European-based travel wholesaler had gone down owing a stack of cash. The biggest was over €20 million to one entity. roomsXML took a small, but not insignificant hit.

Not so long after they launched a new brand, added some new technology and started pushing into the Australian market again. I was approached by one of the reps at an event who said “oh, you guys only have 80,000 hotels…”

My response was along the lines of

“It’s better than going broke, rebranding and telling everyone it’s a new company”.

They are growing their business in Australia as we speak. I was astounded when late last year one of our biggest competitors in Australia told me he was deeply worried on a number of fronts. Forget the past at your own peril.

Lesson: know and don’t forget history.

Mistake 2 – Selective ignorance…. “That won’t happen will it?”

If I buy something and it’s $1000, then they come back to me and tell me that it’s $1100, I will be pretty pissed off. I would make a point of possibly never using them again.

How can it be acceptable to quote a price, sell at a price and then ask for more money? It isn’t.  But it continues to occur in the travel industry.

The reserve bank has been saying the Australian dollar was significantly overvalued and last year they said that it should be US $.75.  Oh, look what happens.


Lesson – lock in your prices, think of the long-term relationships with your customers and beware any financial modelling if you are exposed to rate variation. You will go broke. Some already have.

Mistake 3 – Bad Maths

At the moment consumer confidence is happy with falling petrol prices and interest rates that are saving them $150 a month… so now they can afford the $10,000 European vacation…

Are you doing the same bad maths?

The best example is the 1.5% override you get from a supplier for making sales targets. Paying 3.8% more for the same product available elsewhere? That’s giving up 2.5 of a possible 12% margin.  Relative maths say you are blowing 20% of your commission. WTF?

I used to be against incentive schemes, but if they work and you know your maths then go for it.

Mistake 4 – Not Acting

  • “We really should get onto that social media thing”
  • “I meant to replace the carpet last year…”
  • “I really should update those brochures… that one is two years old…”

If these statements are familiar, it’s time you kick yourself in the backside and start making things happen.

When we are updating roomsXML we talk of the risk of “analysis paralysis” – that is trying to over analyse something so much that it eventually looks too hard.  On the other hand, as another saying goes, we regret more the things we have not done than those we do.

Sure, you might make a marketing mistake. Sure, the idea to stimulate sales may not work out so well. Maybe you don’t like the idea of your logo being on your T-shirt…. but it’s no excuse to do nothing. You will achieve much, much more along the way.

Over the last couple of years we have seen some agents make amazing leaps, implementing new technology, change suppliers, hiring new staff to look at things differently, going after a new demographic. Boom.

The same agents who were complaining about the state of the industry in 2012 are, generally speaking, complaining about it in 2015. Growing business? No.

What are they doing differently? Nothing. Are they expecting change? Yes.

Einstein or not, that’s insane.

Lesson: Act

Has short term memory loss every impacted your work?