A third of the year has flown by and here I am writing my third article for TRO. For those of you who don’t remember, my first article was more or less an introduction, while my last article covered some personal perspectives concerning the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and the fallout, literally, that is still ongoing. But this article brings me back to the topic at hand–the Travel Agent Diaries.
My business has been, since its inception, focused mainly on cruises. I grew up cruising, I know a great deal about the industry, and have a strong passion for sailing and selling the cruise vacation. Although I have sold a number of land products, as well as the less than profitable air product, I still generate most of my business in the cruise sector. My clients come mainly from referrals; and since I am very involved with youth football, both as a coach and parent, I generate a great deal of family travel. I am fortunate to have that demographic as it provides a strong pool of potential clients as well as repeat business due to the need for annual family vacations, spring breaks and parent getaways.
Lately though, I have had a run on air and land tours. Although I have traveled extensively in my life, it has been a unique but welcome challenge to educate myself on new destinations and products. I find though that the research and effort to make these types of trips succeed for my clients is more involved; and honestly can be risky if one is not confident or diligent with their clients’ needs and desires. With that in mind, I make sure that when qualifying my clients; I am comfortable with what they want, secure in my abilities to provide qualified options and the dedication to the details needed to ensure a wonderful travel experience.
I have read many times over that to be successful in this business, one must specialize; and to that, I don’t completely disagree. As I said earlier, I specialize in cruises. I live in South Florida and most of my clients live only hours from one of the five main ports that we are so fortunate to have, resulting in a very easy product to sell. Conversely, I still believe that a good agent can have other specialties if the desire and commitment is there. I have a number of excellent clients that cruise frequently, but on occasion, want that land trip or adventure vacation, or maybe even just a hotel. I will of course do what it takes to service those clients and provide qualified options; and while completing the sale, educate myself as well.
Overall, these past 4 months have been the busiest I have ever seen for my agency. I have sold more this year up to this point than my last two years combined. I expect more growth as the year progresses and believe that the sweat equity and marketing that I have put into place is starting to really show results. Credibility should not be overlooked either. Remember, many young agents need to build this characteristic to be successful.
In short, I feel it is good to specialize, but do not be afraid to diversify. Most well known companies are specific in their products but have introduced changes in their products and services to stay in the mainstream. I have chosen this same philosophy as well, so that I will make my existing clients happy and loyal; and create new business also while strengthening my core business foundation.
Vincent Yeck, CTA, DS is the owner and agent of Yeck’s Cruise & Travel in Lake Worth, Florida. He is a “Destination Specialist” for the Caribbean and specializes in cruises, family travel and groups; including youth sports fundraising. He also is the OSSN Chapter Director for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, a travel industry trade association representing and supporting the Independent Travel Agent, Home Based Travel Agency, and the Outside Sales Travel Agent. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or his website at www.yecks.com.