I like the spunky tone of this article. I feel like it was largely geared toward big corporations in the travel industry regarding smaller startup companies. The message applies to hostel owners too though, whether they are established, newly in business, or still in the planning stages.
The travel industry can be absurd, so don’t add to the suck factor – do something crazy instead
This audience [nearly 1,500 travel executives and entrepreneurs at the PhoCusWright conference in November, 2012] is arguably one of the most ego-filled and experience-heavy of any in the industry, and is a tough crowd for sentiments that can be easily brushed off with an eye-roll or a wave of the “welcome to the big leagues, rookie” hand of tenured travel industry indifference.
But for those still planning to stick around a decade or two from now and run this place while those eye-rollers are long gone sipping on pina coladas beachside, what Chesky [CEO of AirBnB] said might have piqued your interest just as it did my own.
In the last minute of his speech, Brian Chesky said that it is absurd to think that for AirBnB to win someone else (like the hotel industry) has to lose. He said that the real battle is not between one another, but rather all of us in the travel industry vs. the changing economic environment. He said that we can all win because the travel industry at large is still undervalued.
This struck a chord with Sarah Kennedy Ellis, director of Sabre Travel Studios and the author of the article. She commented on the mentality of the people that she has met in the travel industry.
In my personal experience, interacting with peers from hundreds of companies in travel – both large in size and tiny in startup nature – I’ve learned a ton in five years thanks to so many willing to share what they know when asked.
But there’s also the other side of the coin – there are few in this industry I’ve found readily and willing to admit to not knowing the answer to just about any question, not having mastered a topic area or not having thought of already that idea just shared, only in a much bigger and better form than you even considered over ten years ago.
We’re all so darn defensive and prideful it hurts – both us and our customers.
And thus, I’ve found as a result that there are so many willing to tell you what they know, which can be great, but very few people left still willing to ask questions, willing to form new relationships previously not considered, or voluntarily open themselves up to engage in honest debates with opinions 180 degrees opposite of their own.
Finally she issued this challenge:
Go do something crazy.
Explore working with someone new or a company you never would have dreamed of talking to just five years ago. It’s the unexpected partnerships that are almost always the most valuable.
Ask a question or two to a startup you called out of the blue. I promise they’ll call you back and gladly answer your questions, but be prepared to also answer a few of their own – with a smile.
Contact that jerk who wrote the piece-of-crap editorial about you or your company and sincerely try to understand & learn from his perspective without calling him a name he’ll quote you on next time.
Dare to ask any startup what’s wrong with our industry, or introduce yourself to the CEO of your most hated competitor.
Sarah writes from the perspective of someone in a big established corporation, but her message hold true for all of us. Her point is to get out there and make connections, whether you’re brand new to the industry, or running a well established business; corporate mogul or startup entrepreneur. Ask questions, listen to answers, keep an open mind, and talk to everyone in the industry regardless of their background. (This is particularly applicable with both the Hostel Management Unconference and the HW conference coming up in February)
It applies to your local market as well. Open a dialogue with your competition. Call up your government officials. Go for a chat with your irritable neighbor. Connect with everyone you can.