Richard Turen
Richard Turen

Unusual times call for unusual solutions, and in our business landscape, things have never been this "unusual."

I have never before seen so many owners, agents and friends suffering the outcome of severe drops in business sustained over more than two years. Intelligent, high-producing travel agents are simply leaving their desks for a more stable profession.

As this is happening, there is a great deal of searching for a new business model going forward. Finally, agents and owners are questioning the traditional ways of doing things in a travel agency model that really hasn't changed much for the past four decades.

Today, I want you to consider a new strategy, a business built on three foundations. Let's call it "The Turen Triangle" so I can take full blame from the clear majority who will quickly dismiss it.

This is, I will admit, rather revolutionary because it is outside the box, it destroys the box, and it sends the pieces outside the box back to Amazon, figuratively speaking. But if you are an owner or a producing agent setting out on your own, I do hope you will consider the Triangle.

First, if you're a leisure agent, stop selling airline tickets. Travel agents do that, and any study you care to review will demonstrate that over 90% of the complaints about any trip involve transportation to and from the destination. Farm this out to a professional air firm. They will allow you to earn some commission while totally removing you from the wasted time and effort involved in airline ticketing and advising going forward. By the way, your clients will appreciate you for concentrating on their vacation rather than the mundane, ever-changing details of their air arrangements. And you will be happier. Your future happiness is an integral part of the Turen Triangle.

The second leg involves -- dare I say it -- eliminating travel agents from the mix. Be your own boss; never employ outside agents or commissioned salespeople. Going forward, paying an agent from 75% to 100% of the earned commission makes no business sense for the owner. The planning is done by the owners and operators; accounting and routine paperwork is done by an hourly workforce.

Travel should never be sold; get rid of all salespeople in your organization and, instead, become honest advocates for your clients. Be "the source" for travel honesty instead of deals. The internet has arrived, dear friends; someone will always claim to have a lower price. Ridicule them, show them as the fakes they are but never try to imitate their approach.

The third leg of the Turen Triangle is really rather simple. Never handle any travel transaction that involves a booking of less than $10,000. That, more than anything else, will communicate who you are to a client. When they are doing the trips in their lives that are high-end and of some importance, they will come to your professional firm. For the small, unprofitable stuff, they will go online or to a local travel agent who specializes in low-end price points.

The above is a personal "reveal." We used these three pillars to construct our business model 34 years ago. I truly believe that the Turen Triangle can bring you the kind of financial success every travel business owner is seeking. But I also realize that it will be dismissed out of hand by 90% of our readers. I just felt I should try to convince you, one more time, that there are other paths out of this dense, encompassing forest. 

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