by Garth Wolff
Looking back now, I realise that a little more than 22 years ago the idea of the then so-called ‘Independent Travel Consultant’ (ITC) was merely a dream, which over time has perhaps proven to be the most resilient model in the travel industry today. Since then, it’s almost as if we have been preparing our ITCs for events such as a pandemic or a depression. And why exactly do I say this? Here are a few factors that make the ITC so resilient and so powerful in today’s market:
*ITCs do not (in almost all cases) have to worry about staff and a salaries bill.
*ITCs have full control/knowledge of their clients’ bookings from start to finish, making for superlative service delivery to their travellers.
*ITCs with eTravel do not have to worry about purchasing a general ledger/invoicing package or needing to understand the intricate details of bookkeeping, as eTravel does all this for them.
*eTravel ITCs do not have to lodge a guarantee with Iata as they trade under the eTravel licence with zero Iata worries.
*ITCs with eTravel don’t have to worry about managing cash as eTravel takes care of this for them. This is the single biggest reason for business failures across the globe. A business that mismanages its cash cannot get through tough times.
*ITCs mostly operate from a home office where there is no onerous lease with annual increases.
*ITCs can work from almost anywhere in the world as long as they have Wi-Fi connectivity. This means that they can work from the beach in Mauritius while on holiday with their families.
*ITCs can travel to support their kids on sports tours.
*ITCs have flexibility that allows them to spend those vital hours with their families, which in turn allows for a strong family bond – something that is lacking the world over these days.
We all know that the world has changed and although I strongly believe that things are normalising now, I am convinced that the ITC is better placed in this ‘new travel market’ than ever before.
Many travel companies have folded over the last 12 to 18 months, leaving fewer professionals to service a ‘hungry travel market’. Why do I refer to this as a hungry market?
The travel market is reserved for corporates and the wealthy leisure traveller, and the wealthy have merely got wealthier over this period.
Travellers have been housebound and have only recently been able to travel in and around their own countries. As things open more and more, these very same travellers are going to want to get outdoors to explore.
Southern Africa has an African allure that is truly unique – the bushveld safari adventure is different from almost any other travel adventure.
South Africans are dying to get out and see the world once more
In essence, a smaller market with fewer travel professionals and a hungry market will result in a travel boom of note. It is just a matter of time. The UK market (SA’s biggest travel market) is opening up, and this will result in all competent ITCs getting swept off their feet.
My advice to all ITCs and consultants in SA today is to:
*Get your mind right and get ready to become so busy that you will need to plan your days and weeks very carefully.
*Make sure that you have a decent laptop loaded with all the correct IT requirements including a back-up system.
*Make sure that your home office space is neat, clean and ready for the next 12-month boom.
*Warn your family that things are going to become busy for you so that they can be supportive and assist wherever possible.
*Plan your down time now so that you can have a decent festive season.
*Align yourself with a competent and reliable host company such as eTravel, which is not only the market leader in this field but which has been doing things right for over 22 years. We also remain a 100% privately owned entity that allows for fast decision-making and no bullshit! If you want to meet with the owner, I will always make time to meet you or take your call myself. In fact nothing has changed in this department for over 22 years now - my cell number is available on our website www.etravel.co.za. It is very unusual for me NOT to answer a call and if I’m not available I will call you back the minute I can.
So, finally, my short and sweet bit of advice is:
- Get your act together and be ready by formulating an action plan for the next 3 to 6 months that can be rolled out for 12 months if needed.
- Get the right equipment/office set up NOW – don’t delay.
- Make sure you are a part of a professional host company as facing the next 12 months on your own or with the wrong group will merely limit your success. If you have any doubt, visit our website and view our video online.
- Communicate with your loved ones that the next 12 months are going to be travel mania and ask them to support you in your quest to rebuild everything that you may have lost over the last 18 months.
- And perhaps the most important is make sure that you embrace this exciting time with a positive attitude filled with gratitude and joy.
Let the Games begin.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our Preferred Partners who have stood by us during the last 18 months. We acknowledge the struggle and we salute your tenacity.
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