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Travel Biz CEO: How Do You Define Success?

How do you define success?

Oftentimes when we hear “success” stories in the travel industry it is referencing a qualitative number – high sales, high number of IC’s, etc. 

We argue that the only person that can really define what success is for you, is you!

It is easy to compare your numbers to someone else and feel unsuccessful. In this episode we walk through some strategies to help you determine what success means to you. 

The first question would be: How do you determine what success means to you?

First – it’s time to start daydreaming, baby. Pull out that vision board and go to town. What do you want for your life? Is it a bungalow? Maid service? Fancy car? More time for yourself and family? Enough money to travel? What does that travel look like? 

Another way to look at it is to define your perfect day. What does that look like?

Bottom line: There are a number of factors at play when it comes to defining success. 

We get a lot of external noise that tries to define it for us. By starting with the first step of articulating your vision or your perfect day really helps you root into your “why.” 

Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this for yourself? Knowing the answer to those questions helps you maintain the course when you encounter bumps in the road. It helps you know what you are working towards.


For more information about KTA Membership click here.

To Join our Travel Agent Training and Mentorship Facebook Group click here.

To learn more about Annual Strategic Planning click here 

Meet your podcast hosts:

Ashley, Krystal, and Wendy are the founders of Kinship Travel Academy and hosts of Travel Biz CEO. What started as a little bit of fun to help educate fellow colleagues in the travel industry, quickly morphed into a passion. Through their educational community of Kinship Travel Academy, Ashley, Krystal, and Wendy encourage entrepreneurs to embrace the role of CEO in their business by learning to balance their marketing, business systems, and mindset. You can learn more about them and their program here


Krystal Eicher 0:00
Okay, what are we talking about

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 0:02
Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the travel biz CEO podcast today I’m joined as always with Krystal Eicher and Wendy Livingston Guth. I’m Ashley Metesh-McCoy, one of the co founders of Kinship Travel Academy. And we wanted to talk about what success looks like to you, versus just the general societal slash travel industry definition of success, we always see in materials that are published by the trade it in the travel industry that so and so sold X amount of sales, and so and so has x amount of IC’S. And, you know, blah, blah, blah, all these measures that might define someone success. But what we found as we work with other agents, and just examining our own goals in life, we all have different definitions of success. And we want to have a conversation about this, to basically say that your idea of success is perfectly good idea for success, and it doesn’t have to be some standard that someone else created.

Krystal Eicher 1:10
I think the first question is, how do you define what are the steps you would take to define that for yourself?

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 1:17
Well,I’ll start, I guess. I actually do this in a fun little strategic annual planning exercise slash workshop that I’ve created and done with many other agents over the years. The very first step is daydreaming, basically, where you sit down and whether you do this with like, a, what do they call them a vision board where you’re cutting out pieces of a magazine, or writing in a journal. However, you best Daydream and like, record your thoughts and dreams, you go through and think about every aspect of your life and create a fully detailed vision as much detail as you can vision for it. Like, I want to live in a bungalow with, you know, a big backyard, and I want to have a soaking tub, and I want to manage multiple businesses, but not work 60 hours a week, and I want to work with a diverse team. You look at multiple areas of your life, your relationships, money, whether you have a housekeeper, all the different things, and you just basically throw it up all out there. And that’s kind of step one. Anybody want to take it from there?

Krystal Eicher 2:27
Yeah. So I want Wendy to talk about that.

Wendy Guth 2:31
Yeah, so and it’s also it’s, I do a similar exercise as well, where you really, it’s like creating the perfect day. And I love that you’re talking about making it as all inclusive, in terms of most of us don’t live solely for our businesses. So it’s taking into consideration. Normally a wheel of life has 10, eight to 10 different factors on it. And it’s relationships, family. Yeah, your environment, financial, self satisfaction, fitness, there’s so there’s a lot of different components that go into that. I love when you both say, you know, it’s not just fun, necessarily financial, I think for a lot of us, if this is the second career or third career, that there are, there are a number of factors that come into play when you’re defining success.

Krystal Eicher 3:37
What I found most important about this exercise, the first time I did an annual strategic planning session, and I really tried to define success. There were two things at play one, we get a lot of external noise that tried to define that for us, you should be making six figures, you should be doing this, you should be doing that. Starting out with that first step of articulating your detailed vision really roots you into why you’re doing this. Why you are in business for yourself. Why do we keep banging your head against the wall as entrepreneurs sometimes because it does feel like that sometimes. And also, it puts it into a sense of reality, this is a business and whether that business is there to sustain your own travel expenses to sustain itself as a hobby, or to sane sustain as a money making independent business. It’s good to know that up front, because that’s where all the rest follows. So knowing your goals and knowing what it is that you want, and articulating your vision. There’s a part of that that comes into with well what resources do you already have, like, if you want that bungalow that you had just referenced and the A fancy brand new car, but you are fortunate enough to be married to somebody who is able to help provide all the financial things for that already. Well, the pressure isn’t on as much for you to make six figures necessarily. That being said, if you don’t have that in your life, and that’s not, that’s not a part of your reality, your planning looks differently. And again, it’s just starting out with those big hairy goals with what that vision is with that perfect day is it gives you a sense of direction, and it gives you a why. And it gives you a little bit of a route into your goals and what it is that you want to work towards.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 5:42
I just want to say that I feel that in and there’s a reason for it. And host agencies, there’s recognition and rewards for people who are big producers. And the reason for that is a host agency has a business and they get a cut from your Commission’s and they get better commission rates. And they get, oh, what is the term additional bonuses for meeting certain sales thresholds that go directly to the host agencies, from suppliers. So of course, there’s a reason to celebrate and promote six figure seven figure travel businesses. But I think a lot of people like Wendy was saying this is her second, third career come in here either working on it part time, or as sort of supplemental retirement, or maybe it’s more of just a lifestyle choice. They want, they don’t want to fully retire, they don’t want to fully like jump into a, you know, busy career, they love travel, they’re perfectly content, working 20 to 30 hours a week on client stuff, and maybe making $20,000 a year and also getting some of their clients, you know, their personal travel subsidized in a way by the travel discounts that they received. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And as long as you’ve identified, that, that’s what success looks like to you. Because you know, you’re everything else in your life is stable, and that’s what you want out of this career, then that’s fine. Forget the pressures to sell seven figures worth of travel. And also there’s the reality that in some parts of the country, $50,000 is a perfectly great household income, whereas where I live, you can’t get a house for less than a million dollars in, you know, 1000 square feet. So there’s so many factors that go into what would be successful for someone. And I know, Wendy has something to say,

Wendy Guth 7:36
Well, I was just going to add that, you know, and this is something that we’ve talked about quite a bit, is really it’s looking at your values, what what is what is important to you, you know, I had an opportunity to sit down to really dig into, and I, myself personally, while there was an element of security, there was also very big in terms of community. And so the travel for me, is as much having my facebook group, and having that community and that, that belonging and creating the adventures with them, as it is when we’ve talked about this as well. It’s it’s like the word sustainable, I want a sustainable income. So and whatever, you know, whatever that is, one, it’s so I love how it’s it comes into like many different definitions.

Krystal Eicher 8:35
And just circle back to what you had said, Ashley, about what host agencies do is they put, you know, people up on the leaderboard, and a lot of people will have like comparison. He’s like, they must not be as great or as good or as successful as those people because they’re not selling as much. And again, routing back to that first step of like, articulate your ideal vision and then to piggyback what Wendy said, articulate your values. If you are in your second or third career, or, you know, at any stage in life, I don’t think that I personally even this is not my second or third career. I’m 36 years old, I have young kids at home, I want this to be my career. At the same time. I don’t want to work, the amount of hours it would take to have a million dollar in sales business. I have friends who are TA’s who are doing a million dollars in sales and their schedules are bananas and wouldn’t fit in with my current family lifestyle, the current situation that I am in that being said I have personal goals that I want to meet and I want the financial independence and things like that. So it’s like somewhere in between, but being able to put you know, pen to paper and put a value on that and then work backwards. I think that’s a really valuable thing because it gives you a peace of mind that when it’s obtainable, it’s the idea we talked about earlier today, the idea that you can invest to become a travel agent for $300. And make a million dollars the first year or even $100,000. The first year is that’s a unicorn. That’s, that’s an urban legend that that doesn’t really work. It’s not duplicatable, it’s something that you do hear about, on occasion, there are the stars align for certain people in this industry, and they go gangbusters and they work. But there is a reality of the necessary capital contributions it takes to be in it and all of the things that need to go into that, and you know, new level new devil. So the higher up you get in those sales, and the higher up you get in those levels. That’s it doesn’t necessarily get easier. Sometimes it gets more complicated. And when we were talking about this earlier today, we were talking about you get to a point where you’re where you’re having to choose, do I want to sustain this level? Or do I want to scale?

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 11:05
Yeah, and I think it’s interesting, because I’ve been listening, we’ve all three have been listening to a lot of just online business, community podcasts, and blogs and stuff. And one that I follow has been talking a lot about how in the online business community, people are always bragging about revenue, but they never talk about expenses. They never talk about actual profit or income. And I think that’s particularly true because the our bragging badge in the industry is sales, which doesn’t reflect actual Commission’s earned. So you could go out there and work your butt off and sell $500,000 worth of air tickets. And at the end of the day, make $5,000 because your tickets aren’t super heavy on the Commission’s. So we’re out there flashing our sales, but we’re not really talking about our revenue, which is our Commission’s or service fees. And further, we’re not talking about the expenses that it takes to get to those sales levels in terms of advertising, virtual support, everything it takes to take a normal run a normal business. And then of course, the next step would be profit. I mean, nobody wants to flash around their profit. But like, I just I guess I get worked up when people are always talking about sales, because to me, that means nothing. It could mean that you Yeah, you sold a million dollars in travel stuff. But was it all? Was it half of the airlines to what you made $5,000 in commissions on? I don’t know. So sorry for getting worked up there.

Krystal Eicher 12:34
You never have to apologize for. But it’s good point speak. And that is something that’s really important to remember when you are doing the comparison game, especially right now in the pandemic situation, because marketing and analytics and numbers can be so intuitive. You know, I know that actually I’ve seen. Yeah, this statistics. And polls don’t often often mean a lot to me, because we can interpret the data. However, we really want to, it’s the stories that we tie to those numbers that are super important. And that’s my background in PR and advertising at play. I’m always skeptical of numbers. And so you always have to understand like, what are the intentions of sharing these things. And it is an old school marketing tactic to flash big sales numbers. And that’s supposed to motivate you to work towards those sales numbers. I think the idea that we’re pitching today is that you should have your own self, you know, your own definition of success and be working towards that number. And everything that you are competing against should be internal, as far as trying to move the needle in your own business forward in comparison to last month, if that is the decision you make when you come to that split in the road of scale, sustain scale sustain, I would imagine we’re all in kind of a scale mode right now because of the nature of most of our business

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 14:02
No one wants to sustain this certain situation!

Krystal Eicher 14:07
But it you know, at any given point, though, we all have to make the personal decision to say, this is what I want, this is how I’m going to get it and that’s where the strategic planning comes in. And it starts with your own definition of success. And I think it starts with the permission for it to be lower and that doesn’t make you a dabbler and that is

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 14:28
higher or higher! Don’t be afraid to say I’m when I collect a $10,000 salary after all my expenses every month it anything

Krystal Eicher 14:41
The sky is the limit but there is no but there’s no wrong answer here. And so I’m really tired of hearing. Oh, if you’re not wanting a million dollars in sales, you’re just a dabbler. If you are not wanting to work super if you’re not willing to hit this super level. You are not really serious about this business? Well, and maybe maybe not. But again, that’s really not for anybody else to decide.

Wendy Guth 15:08
But you will, ultimately, the whole point of being an entrepreneur usually, is to have some level of flexibility and control over your life. So, you know, and there are different models to look at, when even in travel, there are different models and different business models to explore, in terms of you know, how you set up your business and how you run your business and things of that nature. I do think that probably one of the most important pieces of it is just that you set your goals, you set your level of success, and realize that there are so many different components to that. I mean, I, personally, you know, I have teenagers who are just going back to school, and the time that I have to commit to anything has completely changed and shifted. And if I was adamant, you know, adamantly set on a Not to mention, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, where just travel isn’t happening.

But if I had been adamant about I have to still maintain a certain, you know, income a certain level a certain level of success, I would have gone crazy. I would have just been, it would have just been an even uglier 2020. So it’s realizing that success can be very nuanced, as well. And that it’s not just financial, it doesn’t just have to be financial numbers. It Again, there’s a very wide, wide range of success. And to sit down definitely annually, I tend to look at things quarterly, to sit down and just have a heart to heart with yourself, where am I? Where am I going? How am I doing those sorts of things, can really help because through this, you know, it’s really understanding that and having the confidence in yourself, to make these to make these these judgment calls. I mean, ultimately, it’s, it’s your life. And I think that many of us are at that point. Or we strive to be at the point where what we do and how we determine success is tied to happiness. It’s tied to, you know, other intrinsic intrinsic values,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 17:54
it goes back to your why.

Wendy Guth 17:55
Exactly, exactly, exactly.

Krystal Eicher 17:58
And your perspective, and your perspective. And all of this, because there is such a thing as quite frankly, if you didn’t close up shop 2020, you are a success, because you were able as a business owner, to pivot to make the hard choices to make the necessary changes. Because if you were living high on the hog with a lot of support and a lot of expenses, but no income the rest of the year, you probably drove yourself out of business really, really fast. That is success. And it had nothing to do with a sales goal. If you are watching incremental increases in closing your sales and closing clients right now for future travel, that is a success. Success comes in so many different ways. But the idea that it must be tied to this minimum number or you’re just doing it wrong, or this, though,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 18:59
I just want to sorry, I just wanted to throw a real like real talk out there real quick. If you had to go get yourself a part time J O B to pay your bills, and you’re still keeping your travel business open on the side have success – good for you. Because job, whatever. Like we all know that the three of us are privileged in that we have spouses that are able to weather us through this particular storm. But not everybody out there is like that some people depend on this career to put food on the table and this last year hasn’t really been possible for most people. So getting a job is good for you.

Krystal Eicher 19:41
That wasn’t because you were unsuccessful as a travel agent, or dabbling. It was because there was a global pandemic at play that directly effected business.

Wendy Guth 19:53
Yeah. And it is no reflection on future success either.

Krystal Eicher 19:58
Yeah, absolutely not. Absolutely not, there’s, there’s just not any correlation there. And that’s why we felt so strongly to get on and talk about this today, that success is personally driven. And from your, and it’s from your vantage point, nobody can define it for you.

Wendy Guth 20:18
And if you think about it, and I think we all should pat ourselves on the back having been through 2020, if you have gotten through 2020, healthy, with, you know, family intact, and friends intact, able to have a roof over your head, food on the table, those sorts of things that then then your year was probably successful.

Krystal Eicher 20:49
If you homeschooled kids, your Gosh, darn it,

Wendy Guth 20:53
Amen to that.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 20:55
Think of all the different jobs you took around in the last year that you didn’t sign up for. So just to close it up, I don’t want to go too far into the strategic annual planning. But, you know, I want to quickly summarize what that looks like. So how you can kind of get to your success path. So the first step would be to identify your detailed vision and articulate your your vision for your life in your ideal world. Step two, would be to assign monetary values, where possible to all of those pieces, you know, your dream house, personal chef, a, you know, multiple family vacations a year, create monetary values in what that would cost on an annual basis to accomplish that. Step three, and four, and about analyzing your past performance and your business. And seeing specific metrics, like the average commissions, you know, you’re making the conversion rate, your revenue, your income, and then just basically plugging it into a projection chart to see based upon your growth, your your past performance growth over the however many years you’ve been in business, what you can expect to do over the coming years, based on the trend that you’ve encountered, which is, frankly a little difficult to do after this last year, because let’s hope that no other years like this last year, but you can play around with the numbers a little bit to kind of get an idea of a realistic goal for growth. And then the fifth step would be to basically marry up that projection that you’ve created and come up with a real actionable plan you can take this year in terms of how many bookings Do you want to make? How much commission is your target for her booking with that, how many leads you need to get your your bookings fulfilled based upon your conversion rate. There’s a lot of details here. And I’ll just check out the details on our website at kinship, travel, we’ll link it in the show notes where you can get some more details on that. But it’s a process that you can go on your own, or we have a super easy to follow. Well, it’s not easy, this is hard work to do. But I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to do,

Krystal Eicher 23:13
It’s the numbers part for me. So she simplifies that part, you have to articulate the vision and assign the value, you’ve got to provide the numbers, but she helped analyze it, she helps you walk through ways to analyze and crunch those numbers, which is invaluable. And I can say, as a person who, you know, did this process for serendipitous traveler and walk through it. What it does is it takes the pressure of having external things decided for me that that is hard for my personality to take on a good day. And it’s hard to shut out the noise though at the same time you get into this weird comparison game of comparing your chapter for to someone’s chapter 27. And that’s never a rabbit hole to go down. But if I could really look at that, where what do I really, really want? Where do I want to be. And now I can backwards plan, the actionable steps it’s going to take to get there, the clarity that I get from that, and the relief I had from that in a non pandemic setting mind you to know what my goals were, what I needed to do in my business, and now create all the strategies of marketing all the strategies that it was going to take to get that instead of always being on this hamster wheel of I must sell my selling my selling the selling a sell. Well, I mean, in reality, I needed to sell X number of trips a month. And once I had hit that everything above that was gravy and took pressure off the next month, for example. And that’s just kind of how these sorts of things work. But if you are letting outside forces drive your definition of success, it’s really hard to get off that hamster wheel.

Wendy Guth 24:57
Not to get totally off track but What you’re talking about is reverse goal setting, which is a very powerful tool, one that I particularly like, because it seems it because it makes sense. It makes sense to work your way backwards with what you know you want and no you have and, and as opposed sometimes to I guess more arbitrary. But anyway, sorry,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 25:28
I digress. That’s interesting. I wonder if like, is this a military term backwards planning? Because that’s what we would call it in the military is backwards planning.

Wendy Guth 25:35
Interesting enough. It’s part of positive psychology.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 25:39
Oh, okay. Yes.

Wendy Guth 25:41
And could I add that in the not too distant future? There’ll be excellent exercise in the kinship travel Academy membership group just on on reverse. It’s like reverse Is it like reverse engineering? Yeah. Yeah. Goal setting. Yes. Yeah, that’s what it is. Yeah. Well, that’s, I’m excited about that now. Well, I think we’ll wrap it up there.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy 26:11
Well, I would love to hear if anybody listening would love to share what they’re just a few comments about what your definition of success is. Because I think it would be cool for us to just shout it out to the universe, that you know, this is what I want, and share it with each other and we can cheer each other on. So feel free to let us know what your definition of success is.

Krystal Eicher 26:36
As always, continue the conversation and travel agent training and mentorship Facebook group link in show notes. Have a good day, guys.

Unknown Speaker 26:43
Thank you.

Wendy Guth 26:44

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  • Reply Small, Simple & Successful | Kinship Travel Academy Blog July 1, 2021 at 7:02 am

    […] It does mean you are running your business by your own design and by your own definition of success.  […]

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