Dear Aspiring Industry Expert: Have you written that book yet?Each time we reach December, you likely think to yourself: I wish I had written my book this year. If I had, next year might be different. I would be more prosperous; I’d have more clients approaching me; my life would be lived on a grander scale.And you’re suppositions are correct. So, will you let another December flit by without it? In a bigger sense, do you have sufficient years left in your career trajectory to sustain not writing it this year?One agent who books experts for speaking events likes to answer the question, ‘How can I get ahead in this industry,’ with the words, “Write a book! When you have written a book, people regard you as one step down from God.”Nothing increases your credibility, or visibility, quite like having a book in print. And it’s not critical that your book should be a Dostoyevskian masterpiece and a New York Times bestseller. It’s the simple fact of the thing that counts. People take you more seriously when you’ve been published. You are regarded as an authority.Of course, if you are going to go to that much trouble, it’s best to bring your A-game and write a really good book. Being the author of a genuine bestseller, or of the definitive title on a topic, certainly won’t hurt your reputation. Plus, why would you want to put your name to something slapdash?The second and obvious advantage to publishing a book is you can use it to gain publicity. There’s the launch, the media coverage, the potential for interviews on radio and television and more. In fact, it’s even conceivable that the people who find and buy your book in the bookstores might hire you to do what you write about, turning your book into a sales tool too. It even helps in business meetings with potential clients. Handing over a free copy of your book is impressive. You have clearly been involved in this industry for a while, and you clearly know your stuff.And the third advantage is that it becomes a part of your title…”This is Joanne. She is the author of Sound Principles for Cooking Overweight Guppies.”That carries some weight.Some speakers’ agents urge their clients to consider self-publishing instead of submitting their manuscript to a publisher. Their rationale is that you can potentially make more money by selling your own books at events than by having them on the shelves in bookstores, where your profit is significantly less.The counter-argument is that a publisher can achieve greater reach for you by retailing your books and you’ll gain more publicity. And there is an element of authenticity and satisfaction to having your book “accepted” rather than simply paying for its publication yourself.It’s your choice. But writing a book is certainly a worthy investment of your time.No one can force you into your writing room, and I can do no more than urge you to sit in that chair. But let me ask you: Will another December arrive and catch you bookless? Or will you take the initiative and radically change your place in your industry?
We all love a holiday, afterall, that’s why we work isn’t it; to earn the income to have fun. And there is no better way to have fun than taking a much deserved holiday, especially after a years hard work.As the tourism industry, globally, is going through enormous change in the digital space its imperative to have an understanding of what to expect by using the various options for booking the holidays open to you.Please note that my views below are directed predominantly at the Australian travel industry, although the theories apply globally.The clear favorite for service and consistency of product is the trusty old Travel Agent, by using a Travel Agent, and by that I mean an AFTA (Australian Federation of Travel Agents) member, you have many protections, none greater than the reality of a long-term business relationship. Any travel agent with their salt is not only making a holiday booking for you, but they are trying to build a life long loyalty for future business. This has never been more true than in today’s “new world” of Digital Media and relationship building.Not only are they trying to build a life long relationship, they are also there to provide you a service, a high level of “Intellectual Property” and above all take the headache out of your booking process. And trust me when I say to you, when something goes wrong (and it does all the time) its your Travel Agent who will step in to fix it up while you continue to lie on the beach!Also to mention the other main reason to use a travel agent, money! Yes money. All travel agents are members of the TGF (the Travel Guarantee Fund) this is a fund where all travel agents deposit extremely large deposits as dictated by the TGF based on turnover etc. in order to PROTECT you the customer; in the event of the business collapsing or many other situations.The next option that many people are now opting for, because of course the Travel Agent is perceived to be expensive (This however is NOT true, but that’s the misguided perception). is directly with the operators themselves. Now a days many holiday makers will skip the “middle man” in the belief of a cheaper rate, now going direct to the hotel or accommodation place can certainly have many benefits, and the greatest is knowing that the person answering your email or your phone call is most likely the person you will see when you arrive at the property (of course not the case with large hotel chains, but certainly in self-contained accommodation across Australia). So straight away you can judge if that person is someone you wish to spend a week with, so to speak.There is a level protection dealing with On-Site managers, but not nearly as great as the Travel Agent; on-site accommodation managers in Australia, although that comment is slightly ambiguous, are required to be licensed under state legislation and are also required to have half-yearly audits by a reputable auditor. They are also required to use a trust account for your holiday accommodation funds; In the instance of managed apartments. There is a level of comfort in this, but the reality is it isn’t worth a pinch; a dubious operator can very easily get around that and an audit is not designed to find foul play, but merely to determine the movement of funds.The slight negativity about using an on-site manager directly can be as you arrive and it’s not what you expected, chances are you will have a tough time getting a resolution that will appease you. The on-site manager is managing the unit on behalf of unit owners and therefore most likely will enforce cancellation policies, as they are of course entitled to do.To be blunt, theses managers are generally not looking for life long relationships as the vast majority of holiday makers don’t go back to the same hotel year in year out (of course some do, but most don’t) so the level of service can be depreciated. This comment is of course a gross generalisation, as I certainly never held that view, and many good operators I know don’t either, but unfortunately in this day and age of a decimated travel industry the dollar becomes the main objective.Next on the list of booking options is the 3rd party providers. Whether they are booking portals like http://www.wotif.com.au, store front booking agents or other websites, these operations are about one thing, turnover. They commissions they make are very low and its only sales (bookings) that keeps them going. Top be fair, these 3rd party providers have an enormous cost outlay; this is overlooked by the travel industry; as the vast majority of tourism operators fail to appreciate the time and expense invested in Digital Media (ironic really as travel tends to lead the way in digital media). However I should point out, as a 3rd party booking provider ourselves, it is also about branding, which is build on long-term customer relationships; that is certainly our number one goal. So back to the point, turnover is king for theses guys. “All care and no responsibility” can come into place. And fair enough too, all they are doing is selling you cheap (usually online) accommodation. In short; Caveat Emptor is the moral of that story, but you can get a cheap deal, so, something to think about.Lastly, and without doubt, the most dangerous way to book a holiday, is via a unit/ house owner directly. Many of you will think that this is where you get the best price? And maybe you do, BUT! And its a big but, there is no service, no security and mostly no standard for delivery of product (Industry ratings). The unit owners who sell their products directly are only doing so to increase their income, no other reason! They will present as the all caring owner of the property, but it is not their livelihood (as it is with all the other providers), they have merely invested in a unit as a hobby and are trying to maximise their return. Back to my comments about security and service. They are NOT licenced, they are NOT required to use trust accounts and are not accountable to any authority, government or industry body. So you give them money, you take the risk! Also, and to me the most important issue, is service; when you arrive at your holiday accommodation you most likely get treated like a third class citizen as you wait for the “unit owner” or representative to arrive and let you in; you have no access to an on-site manager if in the need of advice an ideas for enhancing your holiday experience, and you have no one to call for an instant fix to a trivial problem like a “lock out” or a new light globe. Plus, is there is a problem, and there often is, they don’t have access to other rooms to put you in.So there you have it, the moral is very simple. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! that’s life, and it applied to tourism products as much as any other products available.