What Kind Of Fool Am I?

by Scott Koepf
What Kind Of Fool Am I?

The song from “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd" inspires Koepf's latest coloumn. Photo: Ryan.brownell


A few of you may already be composing your email to answer this question for me. While I will be happy to receive those replies, the question is actually designed for you to ask of yourself, not others. It is the title of a song that became more famous than the show it came from, “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd.”

Through singing the beautiful melody and piercing lyrics, the character tries to find the answer to the question, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” Through this self-analysis he realizes he may be incapable of love, which is sad indeed. Compared to most of my musical theatre references, this song is really somewhat depressing. So how is this introspective song related to selling travel? I was struck with the idea that maybe we need to take the song’s approach and apply it to our businesses.

As travel agents, we are in a very competitive and dynamic business. I understand the frustrations of losing business to competitors or direct sales teams, and I often hear, "They (insert competitor or supplier name here) are doing this bad thing or that bad thing and I am losing business because of it." Of course it is easy for others to jump in and toss a couple “Halleluiahs” and “Amens” and add to the tale of woe. And soon you have an unending string of "They did this..." and "They did that..."

Please don't infer that I am calling you a fool by asking you to consider the question in the song. But I do think we all should start by looking at what our actions have been instead of moaning and groaning about what others are doing. Everything we do comes out of the choices we make, and no matter how upset we might get, the fact is that others are winning sales and growing their businesses in the same environment we are in.

The irony here is the very fact that we travel agents exist at all is proof that I am right. Remember that due to commission cuts, the Internet, the economy or direct sales, we are not supposed to be here! Yet here we are. However, I think the most successful agents are not the ones loudly worrying about what "they" are doing, but instead are making the choice to change and adapt in order to succeed.

So the next time you lose a sale, take a deep breath and think about this song’s self- analysis. Focus on, “What did I do?” instead of what “they” did. Complaining about what "they" did will not improve your business prospects for the future—but true self- analysis will. I always recommend that agents review their actions to see what worked, and more importantly, what didn't work on a daily, if not weekly, basis. So if you lost business to a competitor, step into your panic room and scream primordially. And then come back and ask yourself why that happened. If your answer is that “they” have a better price or their marketing is too pervasive, then I suggest you did not ask the right question.

Remember this is self-analysis, not blame analysis. What can be learned from this to make sure it does not happen again? Did you follow up to the degree you should have? Did you do enough research to quote a compelling offer in the first place? Did you spend enough time with the customer and ask enough questions to build a relationship? Did you clearly articulate the benefits of booking with you? If you are honest with yourself you will determine what you may not have done well so you can improve for the next time.

If you sing the song below just a few times (with some liberty taken with the lyrics) you may realize the only foolish thing would be to not sing this song!

What kind of fool am I?

Who didn't make the sale?

What can I do next time so I will not fail?

I need to learn and grow

Or clients will never know

What kind of Jewel I really am!

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