The travel business today is increasingly pressurised. Clients are fewer and bookings harder to finalise. No matter whether you are a home worker or based in an agency, one of the keys to success is your own self organisation. For home workers especially the right mental attitude and not missing a single opportunity from your leads is absolutely essential.Product knowledge and your ability to convert enquiries are not enough on their own. It is also important to establish and maintain a pipeline of potential and current bookings otherwise your business will simply dry up and it will become impossible to meet your targets. Planning ahead and using your time wisely differentiates the successful consultant from the failures. Firstly, looking ahead, consider how you go about planning
OUR OBSTACLES TO PLANNING It is easy to acknowledge that planning is a good thing but far more difficult to actually devote time to doing it. There are 4 main obstacles to planning: 1. THE NATURE OF THE DAY A typical day in the life of a consultant shows why some people find it difficult to make time for planning. The day consists of normal routine activities, special assignments and the inevitable emergency which means dropping everything. Under these circumstances planning usually ends up at the bottom of the priority list - something to do when and if time is available. 2 A MISUNDERSTANDING OF PLANNING Most consultants think of planning as abstract thinking or even day dreaming, probably because they are unclear of what is to be achieved. It is best to think of planning in terms of a specific end product e.g. a more efficient leads generation system, a completed group booking, a sales campaign, a schedule of follow ups. 3 A FEAR OF PLANNING Certain consultants are just unhappy about planning. The reason may be that planning doesn't always look or feel like work to others and people often feel guilty at seeming to be idle. 4 MENTAL EFFORT Planning is largely a mental exercise which some consultants find very hard. It is often easier and more tempting to do things rather than think about them.
GOLDEN RULES FOR GOOD PLANNING
- Go about planning systematically - obtain information, decide end result, consider resources you have or will need.
- Make a habit of setting aside a certain time of the day for planning
- Find somewhere free from distraction
- Take one thing at a time - don't try to do everything all at once
- Set up priorities - distinguish between important, urgent and trivial
- Think before you act - try to consider everything before starting
- Consider ways of checking progress, how will you monitor how well you are doing against your plans and targets?
- Allocate some time for creative planning - developments and improvements are needed for the future, to take you and the business forward
- Convince yourself that planning is worthwhile - only if you feel that planning is necessary will you provide the time to do it.
Secondly, review the activities you undertake. Try this simple analysis, be honest with yourself.
- List the prime activities you do in a "typical week". It may help to think a day at a time.
- Try to identify the approximate time spent on each activity.
- Now rate the value of your activities in the priority column, consider how important each activity really is
- Then consider how much time is spent on the “A Priority” activities. Have you got the balance right?
DAILY PLANNING - "The Things To Do List" Guidelines For Use.
A to-do list is essential to keep you on track, to help you deal with the important not just the urgent items. Keep your "To Do" List in a plastic folder so it can't get mis-filed with other papers. Or use your computer software calendar/to do list.
LAST THING BEFORE LEAVING (or first thing on arriving next day):-
- Enter any activities necessary but not yet listed.
- Update list by scoring out work completed or noting "progress".
- Score out any activity not started/completed and now considered unnecessary.
- Allocate all tasks on A, B or C priority, reviewing priorities already allocated.
- Number the A priorities 1, 2, 3 etc. according to urgency and importance.
- If necessary tell others about your proposed work sequence and how it will affect their schedule (activities, information required, visits to clients , etc.).
DURING THE DAY:-
Do the A1 jobs first, then A2, etc.
Score off jobs as completed.
When progress on a job is interrupted while awaiting a telephone call, email, information, booking confirmation etc., go on to the next job, but complete it when progress can be resumed.
Add work to schedule as soon as accepted (but remember to say "No").
As and when necessary, re-allocate priorities.
- Do "A" priorities first.
- Try to do one thing at a time.
- Say "No" if necessary.
- Don't be tempted to "tidy-up" C priority jobs.
FINAL TIPS - SOME PIECES OF GOOD ADVICE
- Do certain things at fixed times.
- Plan to do the difficult, important jobs when you are at your best.
- Give the day a flying start. Get going first thing in the morning.
- Set time limits for all tasks - and stick to them.
- Do not put off important but unpleasant tasks.
- On the other hand, you should put off everything that is unimportant.
- Avoid interrupting yourself with sudden impulses such as "I must just ...." or "I don't seem to have done ...."
- Prepare your work so that everything you are going to need is there for you before you start.
- Group similar jobs together e.g. letters, e-mails, telephone calls, reading or filing.
- Rest before it becomes necessary. If you wait until it becomes necessary you will have already wasted a lot of time.
- Think first - then act. Nothing need ever be done in such a hurry that there is no time to think.
- Collect all routine matters to be communicated to your colleagues and deal with them at one time.
- Get into the habit of having meetings with yourself.
- Do things "adequately" well - avoid exaggerated perfectionism.
- Be selective. Learn to say no. Make it a habit to ask: "Am I the right person for this task?"
- Do one thing at a time. · Finish off jobs if at all possible.
- Make a habit of planning an email or telephone call. Make a brief note of what to say, what you want to find out or what you want done.