For those working in the travel industry, time management is essential to succeed, not only professionally, but in your personal life as well. To become a successful advisor, you need to figure out what you want, know who you are selling to, and align with key suppliers.
Finding a balance between work and life is all about time management, and to that end, Louise Gardiner, treasurer of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), and a travel industry veteran of over 40 years, led a breakout session during the Travel MarketPlace East 2019 conference in Toronto where she shared strategies for how to get the most out of your day while increasing your earning potential and balancing your home life.
“The first thing about time management is you have to figure out what you want, and that kind of depends on where you are in your life,” said Gardiner. “You have to [make] a plan, you need to be realistic in what you can accomplish, and you need to know who you’re selling to.”
The first step to making a plan is to decide what it is you want to accomplish. In terms of travel sales, you have to calculate your daily earning potential. It’s all about the salary goal, the time spent, and the customer and product mix.
Keep in mind that you have to be realistic — and realistically, not all of your time will be spent selling.
Set goals according to your overall vision. Spend time fostering the relationships with your clients and suppliers; continuously learn about new programs and services; and manage your time between business and personal health. Balance is the key.
“You have to decide between salary and time, and how much money you want to spend,” said Gardiner. “You’ve got to think about what it is you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.”
7 steps to take control of your work day
As for managing your day-to-day life in the office, Gardiner offered these practical tips.
- Start your day with clear focus. Know what it is you wish to accomplish for the day and start organizing your calendar to stay on task.
- Focus on high-value activities. Ask: What strategic tasks do I need to deal with today to help me work smarter tomorrow? What does my client need most? And what do I expect to cause me the most trouble today?
- Have a dynamic task list. Be sure to include your goals, business relationships, products and clients. And be sure to revisit the list daily and reprioritize it as necessary.
- Minimize interruptions. Identify activities that tend to disrupt your work — like checking emails when you’re in the middle of working on something — and find a solution. Make sure to discipline yourself to work on each task single-mindedly until it’s completed.
- Stop procrastinating. Schedule meetings with others so your actions will have to be completed. Finish your most difficult or unpleasant task early in the day, and be sure to reward yourself when you finally get it done.
- Limit multitasking. Plan your day in blocks and set specific time aside for meetings, returning calls, research and planning. Remember to stop and take a breath — reorganize — and even take a five-minute stretch.
- Review your day. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to review what you accomplished and where you need to work harder for tomorrow. Figure out what you want, pay attention to details, and admit when you have a problem and seek help.
“You have to look at your business, whether you’re a corporate agent, an owner, a manager, an independent contractor, or a full- or part-time employee, and you have to figure out what your goal is going to be,” said Gardiner. “What is your vision, because you have to have a roadmap. You have to know where you’re going to end up in the right place.”