Seeing Your Travel Business Through New Eyes (Part 1)

If you find business consultants to be at best mystifying and at worst expensive and intimidating, then you are operating at a disadvantage. You can’t get value from something you don’t understand; and in the current travel industry environment you cannot afford to pass up value in any form.In order to be of value to you, the consultant must know beforehand, and in detail, the critical aspects of your company: market, competitors, customers, capital structure, personnel, etc., and the only reasonable way he/she is going to learn them is from you. From that it follows that you have to know them yourself.You must be absolutely certain that you could describe your agency to a consultant in useful terms – write some rough notes on what your market is like; who your customers are; why they do business with you; what facets of your operations are important in keeping their business; and how your compensation plan meets the needs of your employees and at the same time rewards them specifically for meeting your needs as well. Try to state clearly the most important goals you have achieved during the past few years; the opportunities and threats you anticipate in the near future; and exactly how you intend to respond to those opportunities and threats.If you already know enough about your business to use a consultant, then certainly everything the consultant does will be couched in terms of things you know inside out. Conversely, if the consultant comes up with something that is truly dazzling in its originality, it probably will turn out to have very little relevance to what you can actually do with your business.The best consultants are rigorously tied to what the client has done in the past, can do in the present, and wants to do in the future. Anything else smacks of showing off at the client’s expense and is symptomatic of lack of value from the project.Remember: It is your business and you should know a lot more about it than any consultant, no matter how sophisticated that person may be. If you have done your homework and can meet this requirement, then you have a hunting license to structure consulting assignments that can give you a significant competitive edge in many aspects of your business. And in today’s travel industry we all need every edge we can get.