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Big pond or little one?

April 3rd, 2010 . by John Frenaye

Have you ever had a client contact you asking for pricing on Alaska, Jamaica, London, Hawaii, and Australia—in February? What about the client who can’t decide if they want to cruise on Carnival or Crystal and then waffles between a land based experience and a sea based one. Admit it. You have had these clients and they drive you bonkers! They do me! While it is our job to qualify the client and offer the best vacation experience that meets their needs and budgets; don’t you just wonder why their initial thoughts are all over the literal and figurative map? It may not be them. It just might be you!

Yesterday, I was reading an interview with a Disney specialist. He was very clear on what he did and one of his comments really struck a chord with me, “If someone comes to my site looking for something not Disney—they immediately know they are in the wrong place. If they are looking for Disney—they know they came to the right place.” Bingo! Now think about that client that comes into, calls, or surfs over to the “travel agency”—why wouldn’t they ask for all of the options? You have told them you sell travel—you did not tell them what type, what specialty or what destinations.

I think we can all agree that none of us are seeking the clueless client. It wastes our time. It wastes the client’s time. And if things go really bad and you give them an experience they did not enjoy, it could ruin your reputation. So let them know what you do. And the added benefit of letting them know in advance, is that you will have many more pre-qualified clients. The Disney-ites will not have to deal with the Williamsburg clients. The Honeymoon agencies will not have to deal with spring breakers—get it? Let them know who you are and stand out in the crowd.

Specialize

As most of you know, my specialty is single parent travel. Do a simple Google search for “travel” and your agency will be listed along with 661 million others. What are the chances of being found (and face it, the Yellow Pages are no longer relevant)? If you specialize in “family travel” your odds are much better—you are swimming in a pool of 1.6 million. But if you specialize in “single parent travel”, your pool suddenly drops to 16,200. I will take those odds any day.

And if you are good at what you (and we all are, right?) you will naturally rise to the top. My agency has the top position in Google, the second position in Google, and is referenced by About.com for the third position in Google. Who do you think a divorced mom who is looking to travel with her kids is going to call first?

SPTExample

I have spoken with many agents who claim they “can’t” specialize. Why not? If you are an all encompassing agent, I am not suggesting jumping into the deep end, but why not wade into the pool? Do you love to fish? Flyfishing vacations are incredible! Do you like to drink? Wine or scotch based experiences are very popular. Are you extremely devout? Pilgrimages are an incredible opportunity. I think you get the idea—anything is fair game (except single parent travel) when you open your mind.

I was speaking to an industry icon last week (interview coming up, so I am not going to spoil it) and when we were discussing the future survival of the generalists, his thought was that any generalist in a relatively populated area ought to be concerned. Just some food for thought!

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Join the Discussion - Post your comment  2 Responses to “Big pond or little one?”

  1. Susan Schaefer Says:

    Excellent article John!! And I’d like to point out, just because you specialize does not REQUIRE that you turn away business outside your niche. You specialize in single parent travel. If one of those single parents remarries some day, and wants you to plan their first trip as a blended family, you have the OPTION of booking that travel or referring them to someone in your network that specializes in family travel.

  2. Geoff Millar Says:

    Amen, I have been preaching specialization since I got into this business. True, while the shear number of leads may decrease you will find that your number of sales will actually increase when you specialize and you will have more time to devote to those clients. As John states is also much easier to promote your busincees if you specialize. You develop a reputation and become the go to person for your area of specialization. You not only gain business but you gain time since you have to do much less research when you specialize. In this Industry we always somehow compare ourselves to doctors and lawyers, guess which 2 professions were the first to embrace specialization.

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