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What the gun travel agents did in 2014

2014 was a year of change. Some agents stood and wondered. Others jumped forward. Here’s what they did.

2014 was a year of change. Some agents stood and wondered. Others jumped forward. Here’s what they did.


In 2014 things like the dissolution of TCF, franchise changes, economic downturn and a lack of business confidence had a lot of people saying “Hang on, let’s see what happens….”.

It’s tempting to say “that’s fine” but the truth is, it isn’t. Businesses AND individuals look for opportunities no matter what’s going on. If they are in an environment where no one is innovating or taking risks and they do, the success amplifies against a trend.

It’s no different in the travel industry. Along the journey of 2014 we saw a number of replicated behaviors across agencies and individuals that underpinned growth well beyond industry norms.

That should get you thinking about 2015.


1. Thinking strategically and acting now

Mark Luckey_1

There were plenty of unknowns about 2014 but there were also plenty of things we knew would happen as early as the start of 2013. That’s when the smart agents and individuals got active. Some changed jobs, some got a lawyer, some strengthened partnerships…. but they did something.

If you saw the future in 2015 and it didn’t look good, I hope you did not stay there.

So if you are looking forward this year and things don’t look good for where you are then it’s time to do something about it.


2. Reacted to a changing market

One of our favourite agents, who might slap me if I go revealing their secrets, explained that there were significant demographic changes taking place in their local market. They had a gut feeling, they undertook some research, confirmed their suspicions and made changes accordingly. That is all I will say.

The point being they have tapped into a market which didn’t really exist two years ago and if the sales figures are a guide, they have made the right decision. Very, very right. It wasn’t rocket science, it was just bold. In hindsight, common sense.


3. Spruced themselves up

If you had the contract to fit out the new helloworld stores last year you are probably deciding whether or not to drive the blue or the red Porsche to work. I imagine statistically more new stores and renovated stores appeared in 2014 than ever before in the industry.

So even if they were not one of the major franchises, the smart operators knew they would look shabby if they did not do something to pick up their image.

On a personal front, we noticed a few agents became movers and shakers – a bit fitter, a new dress, a sharper suit and a higher level of presentation goes a long way.


4. Assessed and strengthened relationships

Mark Luckey_2

A media contact from NZ explained to me his theory that the preferred model was dead.  It’s a big call.

His argument was “Mark, its value proposition. No good getting a 1% over ride if you need to pay 2% higher prices to get it.  Not unless you are getting more for it like better service, more attention or something that makes customers more profitable.”

Then again, some franchise chains have tightened their “supplier noose” and others more than ever angle to back end payment. But either way, good relationships are valuable when someone gets walked and you need to call them at 11pm….

How healthy are your relationships?


5. Used, not abused, technology

Mark Luckey_3

The secrets of the individuals cannot be revealed, but lets just say that Jake Hower was onto something here.  We saw some very cool applications of technology, sharing and supporting others through technology for mutual gain. It’s not just Facebook, LinkedIn, mail chimp… its thinking the bigger picture.


Jake might be out there, but why can’t you?