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Agent Diary: ‘Let’s focus on business, not busyness!’

Forget about how busy you have been recently, and focus on being productive in the future, says Thompson Travel owner Sharon Thompson.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking recently about being really busy – but what does being busy really mean?

When we tell people we are busy it makes us feel like our life is important, and our presence matters to those around us.

When we are stressed, or at a loss, the advice is usually that it is always best to ‘keep busy’.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt less in control, or less productive, in my whole career – and in my mind, I feel like a really busy fool.”

However, I’ve often heard it be said that, ‘there are plenty of busy fools’. Over the course of this last year, I have felt like one of those.

As travel agents, we’ve been shifting bookings, refunding customers and cancelling their holidays, and all of that work is for nothing. We all talk about how busy we were.

But I don’t think I’ve ever felt less in control, or less productive, in my whole career – and in my mind, I feel like a really busy fool.

Building foundations

This last few weeks has felt like a light is visible at the end of the very long tunnel and, on reflection, I realised I was wrong.

The work my team and I have put into helping our customers may have felt like it has done nothing, but it has secured their loyalty… well, most of them anyway.

We don’t have definite answers for them about when, where and how we will travel beyond a few weeks, but customers are waiting patiently because of that work we have put in.

“The work my team and I have put into helping our customers may have felt like it has done nothing, but it has secured their loyalty… well, most of them.”

And the bottom line is…there is a huge difference between being busy and being productive.

In light of Northern Ireland getting the go ahead to open the doors to non-essential shops again last week, a little bit behind the UK mainland, I have been asking staff, business owners and tour operators if they are ‘busy’.

The replies vary a lot. Are they busy re-administering the same bookings again, busy drawing up rotas and revamping offices for socially-distanced operations, or busy making a profit?

Fired up

As we see a return to our offices with our staff, who have had to deal with uncertainty as much as us over the last year, we want to be fired with enthusiasm. We want to be busy, and we want to be making our businesses worthwhile.

I wish every single person in our industry a busy, but productive, future and a restoration of confidence in our faith in future travel that gives us all the motivation to get back to what we do best.

As we all return to offices, let’s not get wrapped up in being busy with the past, but productive with the future.

“I wish every single person in our industry a busy, but productive, future and a restoration of confidence in our faith in future travel.”

With that sentiment in mind, I’d like to say a huge thank you to those in my team, tour operators or airlines who have really been productive in the last year – working together to secure our monies, bookings and customers.

It has been noted and will be remembered as our businesses grow again. I’ve learned that if you want something done, ask a productive person.

Now borders are opening, vaccines are rolling out, and people are smiling again, let’s focus on business, not busyness!


Sharon Thompson grandaughter

There is a lot to be thankful for

As we’ve finally been given the green light to reopen our shop doors in Northern Ireland, and hope for another green light in terms of the resumption of international travel, I have some good news of my own to report.

My son Jason and his fiancée Wendy have their wedding on June 3, and my daughter Natalie and son-in-law Stephen gave me the most beautiful Granddaughter on April 8.

So despite the setbacks of the last year,  there is a lot to be thankful for.

I see the fourth generation of our family business ahead.

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