Relighting the fire

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The ASTA World Travel Congress, on this week in Strasbourg, France, includes a seminar that is more appropriate than the program creators probably anticipated.

Planned well before the latest round of pay cuts, it is called Renewing Your Passion for the Travel Industry.

The presenter is Dianne Moore, a partner in Vacations Plus in New Berlin, Wis. The 75-minute session is aimed at the disheartened, and the promotional squib says, in part, "All those reasons for loving what you do are still there, just buried." It also promises to "relight the fire" for those in need of a serious boost.

Dianne, who has presented other topics at other ASTA congresses, volunteered for this session as an outgrowth of her own experience. She said that early this year, she told her partner, Gerry Jung (a former ASTA national officer), she wanted to get out of the business.

Dianne said she was "tired of suppliers saying I don't know how to do things." She found that demeaning, especially given that she was still in the business after 25 years and she had seen plenty of those suppliers come and go.

Then, she said, the next two months were very busy at Vacations Plus, and she was frequently buoyed by clients saying things like "I don't know what I would do without you."

She said, in the wake of commission cuts, she has had clients "near tears" asking, "What will I do if you are not here?"

With that feedback, she rediscovered her passion for the business, so when ASTA sought a speaker for a session on renewing one's commitment, she figured that "there must be a lot of people like me" who have to deal with the impulse to leave the field.

Besides sharing the story of her own epiphany, Dianne has history on her mind. She believes many agents don't know how the trade got to where it is today, but that knowledge conveys a new, even comforting, perspective.

For an example, Dianne's anecdote is again personal. She said she recently found the receipt for her grandfather's steamship ticket, the ticket that he bought to emigrate from Switzerland to the U.S. in 1915.

Her grandfather used a travel agent to get the ticket, and this reminded Dianne that the agency business once was a business heavily focused on the needs of immigrants to the U.S.

As Dianne says, "We've been around a long time, just doing different things." And by extension, she suggests agents will continue to be around a long time, just doing different things.

That's a refreshing outlook, good for just about any of us as we watch our lives and careers evolve.

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