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Setting marketing goals for travel agents

August 13th, 2009 . by Richard Earls

Buried in Tuesday’s article on travel marketing was the statement “marketing has goals“. Interestingly, this is a point often overlooked by travel agents. Marketing coaches will continually speak to the necessity of having a business plan. But it is equally important to first set out clear goals for yourself and your agency. The travel agent looking to construct a year-long marketing plan must first have well articulated goals in order to allow the travel agent later to track and monitor progress.

It may seem a bit unusual that one of the most common failings of planning is a failure to start at the beginning. However, most of us have in our heads a general notion of what we want the end result of our marketing to look like. We know we want to be good at what we do. We know we want, in a general fashion, to increase our sales. We know we want more clients or we know we want to book more travel. We know we want to earn a living. However, these general goals are hard to measure objectively and are so easily achieved to some  small degree as to be useless for benchmarking progress. The acquisition of a single new client could signal in our minds that we have successfully accomplished our mission. Most of us would not be so easily satisfied, but the lack of more clearly stated goals is an obstacle to an effective marketing campaign.

Without clearly defined goals, it is all too easy to be blown about by whatever wind comes our way. Often we are lucky enough to acquire clients, make progress, and book travel despite ourselves. Goals, however, provide us with a clear vision and direction in which to travel. Once we set a goal, we can measure or progress make adjustments, and more easily budget our resources.

Establishing goals is a very personal process with its origins in our individual designs for our business. The concept of setting a goal goes to the very question of what you want from your travel practice. The proper balance of our wants and desires will shape the goals. Do you want more money? Free time? Opportunities to travel? Some of these, all of these? You can see that the determination of what you want, and the establishment of goals, will in turn shape the resulting marketing plan.

Setting forth your goals is not a linear process. Rather, it is a dialectic between your desires and the opportunities offered by the marketplace. In fact every SWOT analysis concerns itself with market opportunities. Next week, we will focus on the traditional SWOT analysis in the context of the travel agency. For today, however, see how clearly you can articulate your goals.  Be specific. If you want more free time, how much time? If you want more clients, how many more? Don’t decide you want “more money” – put down a dollar figure towards which you can work. Then, establish a time frame against which you can measure your progress.  We will spend next week mapping out the beginnings of a map to get you there.

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