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Your Agents – Your Greatest Asset

The navel gazing season approaches and as we consider all things 2014, how’s about your staff?

The navel gazing season approaches and as we consider all things 2014, how’s about your staff?

 

 

When we consider and discuss assets, we talk about homes and cars. In business, it’s systems and cash in the bank and advanced sales and….

Unless you are online travel agency, travel is all about people.

It might be about a great view, but a bad waiter will be remembered as well. It might be that comfy hotel bed but a rude receptionist will lead to a complaint back to us to sort out. A smelly transfer driver at three in the morning in a Third World country can really shape first impressions.

Booking that trip in the first place?

What are you doing to improve, protect and sustain your staff ? As importantly, have you actually thought through how to make them feel looked after and the effect it has on your business?

What were your staff “patterns” this year, what was your reaction and what was the impact on your team? Have you actually thought about it or just let it happen again?

 

Our Staff Patterns for 2014

Mark Luckey_middle_4

In some respects we actually had a pretty rocky year staff wise. At the small end of the scale, I had knee surgery which took me out of the office for a few days but had me grumpy for longer. Globally we grew and so we had more offshore support staff put in place and the inevitable turnover that comes with a team of 50. We aim for consistency and so these new people need to be filled with the values and expectations of how we do business

Closer to home an injury to one of our staff members kept her them of the office for a few weeks and one of our much loved interstate representatives got seriously ill and required serious surgery. Emotional times for the individuals.

Potentially damaging for business.

 

Our Reaction

Mark Luckey_middle_5

From practical to emotional to moral, our responses to let them know they were needed and valued and their jobs weren’t going anywhere. Our staff are fantastic, we let them know that, and we let them know we were here to help. Like me they don’t always get it right but when they do they shine.

It did mean working a few more hours to fill some gaps, it did mean more travel and later nights for a while but is that a bad thing? I think it lets the rest of the team know that the owners and managers are willing to pick up the slack as well, lead by example and keep things rolling.

The next thing we did was find alternate duties – set them up from home, let them work at their own pace while they recovered.

 

The outcomes

Mark Luckey_middle_2

Something we learnt from WTM this year was that the people who supply us really appreciate that we try and deliver excellent customer service to our customers. In more personal discussions, they also liked that we had a big focus on looking after our staff.

Why?

Because these are traits of a long term business view. It’s not always about the tangible, short-term dollar. It’s about teams who support one another, build a positive culture, that end up underpinning companies that perform well. These are the organisations people want to do business with.

Our staff are still with us. Our team remained united, focused, fun and more often than not cheeky with me. To me they sound happy.

We might have taken some hits here and there, but this business is about people. How they feel about their jobs affects how they act when they visit you. It affects how they respond to your questions when you need support on the phone. It affects the way they interact with each other when owners are not around. Now and next year.

In short, the people in this business, and in yours as a travel agent, are everything.

Negative or poisonous environments that lead to high staff turnover or replacement can send all of the wrong signals, deliberately and otherwise, to both customers and suppliers. It can take a long time to fix.

 

So what can you do for your staff?

It's important to say thank you.

It’s important to say thank you.

I wish I could name the travel agencies, but we know of a few places where the staff are definitely not happy. You can almost taste it as you walk into the office. The negative attitude is like a disease that slowly affects everyone in the office and the decisions they make.

Business is not growing for them.

But from what I have seen the most appreciated thing?

Say thanks.

If possible think of an example and tell them thank you. Tell them they are appreciated. It will reflect in everything they do, from the smile on their face to their tone of voice on the phone. It will make them feel better about themselves and their jobs. Do it regularly, aim to congratulate more than you criticise.

Is it that hard? Not really, just common sense and exceptionally good for business.

What are you doing to improve, protect and sustain your staff ?