Executive editor Donna Tunney is away for a few weeks. In place
of her usual "Wandering" column, TWcrossroads brings you "From the
Editor's Desk," written by editor in chief Arnie Weissmann.
n Aesop's fable, the
short-sighted grasshopper lived the good life when food was
abundant, with nary a thought to tomorrow.
During the same period of plenty, the industrious ant spent time
gathering and storing food for the harsh winter ahead.
Naturally, when winter came, the ant was well-stocked with
provisions while the grasshopper starved.
End of story, as far as Aesop was concerned.
But wait a minute. This ant was clearly a strategic, long-term
thinker with an understanding of cycles, and he anticipated and
planned for shortages when times were good.
Given the present economy, I'd find it more instructive if the
fable had continued and told what the ant did during the lean
winter months to prepare for the better times that he knew would
Aesop can no longer help me, but I recently had a conversation
about preparing for better times with Jim Tyner, chairman of the
World Key Agency Group. He said his association of about 135
primarily leisure agencies was taking specific steps to be
well-positioned when business picks up.
With some agencies experiencing down time, "there's opportunity
to work on supplier relationships," Tyner said. "Our agencies are
cleaning up their client lists. Suppliers want to work with an
agency that manages a detailed, accurate list so that, together,
they can make sure promotions are properly targeted. We want our
agencies to fire rifle bullets, not shotgun shells."
OK -- ants can be working on their databases. What else?
"Work on cementing supplier relationships," Tyner continued.
"Don't wait for supplier reps to call you, call them. Get on their
radar. Tell them you want to know the most effective ways to sell
And, finally, he said, spend time "learning technology and
creating habits that'll increase profitability later. If your
agency is still using the phone to make certain reservations, learn
to do it through the CRS. Compressing booking time is a key to
None of these actions, he notes, costs an agency money, yet
agencies will reap financial benefits once business revives.
Consumers, Tyner believes, are delaying travel decisions, not
making the decision that they will never travel again.
Tyner predicts the thaw may come as soon as the first of the
year. And he believes that, cumulatively, bookings may not be down
as much as current trends indicate. He thinks instead that more
bookings will take place in a shorter period.
The moral: When pent-up demand is unleashed, ants will once
again be better prepared than grasshoppers, who, perhaps, now spend
their time at their terminals, clicking on CNN.com to read the
latest bad news they believe will never end.