Cleaning up your travel house

Posted on December 10th, 2012 by in Editorial Musings

The end of the year is fast approaching and we have just a few weeks left until we launch out of the starting gate to an incredible 2013.  The New Year mantra is typically “out with the old and in with the new” which applies to your travel business in any number of ways. Of course we are tossing out old brochures (well from the suppliers that still provide them), perhaps old client records and notes, and even that mystery container that has been lurking in the refrigerator since July. But what about tossing out some of your clients?

Wait, did I just say that?  Yes I did!  Admit it, some of your clients are a pain in the @$$. Some of your clients are unprofitable. Some of your clients are too needy and not worth the time and effort. Some of your prospects are perennial tire kickers. So, why not purge them and start working with the client you want to work with?  I am not suggesting a massive purge because clients and prospects can change over time; but I am suggesting that you take a long hard look at your existing client/prospect base and see if you can thin it out a bit and identify the ones that are pulling your bottom line down.

The Bad

We all have clients that are, quite simply, a pain in the rear. They may always call for last minute reservations with unreasonable expectations. They may always have multiple changes. Maybe they insist on working with a supplier that does not pay fairly. I think you know who these people are. Go through your database and mark their profiles with “OID.”  Only If Desperate.

 The Unprofitable

None of us are in business to lose money. That is the airlines’ job. So why would we want to lose money selling travel? We do it all the time. Take some time and calculate the true value of your time and then determine how much time it takes to adequately complete a booking. Take into account the sales process and the follow up after the sale. I think you will find that the $75 commission check from the cruise line will have cost you more than that!  Look at your clients and see which ones are unprofitable. Do you consistently spend hours and hours with a client to determine a destination only to book the cheapest resort for a long weekend? Get rid of them; or at least tag them in your database with a “¢” sign in stead of a “$$$.”

Every client or prospect has some value. But for those whose value is diminished, it is not necessary, recommended, or desired to waste efforts on them until something changes.

To be successful, you need to target your audience and continuously work that target. Giving your non-targeted prospects and clients merely erodes at your bottom line. So after you are done cutting the Christmas tree—think about pruning your clients—just a little!

  3 thoughts on “Cleaning up your travel house

  1. 1John Frenaye says:

    Respect–I am not suggesting that we be rude. It is more about understanding your own business and filtering out the business that does not fit in it. If a low end, entry-level cruiser happens to call Crystal Cruises, do you think that the Crystal rep will spend much time? Of course you qualify your clients, but we should not be afraid to get rid of the chaff.

    If a customer is insistent on a particular supplier, there is not much to do there. You can accept the booking or ask them to book elsewhere or direct. I have seen many an override lost because an agent did not sell a preferred and it shifted the market share to a lower tier.

  2. 1Respect says:

    I understand about the need to keep an eye on the bottom line and be profitable, but John please keep in mind that travel agents are in the service industry and need to be respectful. It’s not right to turn customers away or tell them stop working with us because they prefer to book on a supplier who pays the agent less. That is putting our needs way above the client’s. That is how the industry can get a bad reputation much like the distrust of financial advisors who put commissions and investments ahead of what is the best need for the client. Yes, we have to keep an eye on wastage of time and less profitable clients. But no, we don’t have to be disrespectful and purge ourselves of those clients unless they are disrespectful and rude. Too many times I see in travel agent forums and such agents who are just mean spirited in comments they write and so greedy sounding. We are in a service industry and sometimes we will waste time/energies on no profit clients but that goes with the territory. I hope the industry including travel agents and suppliers stay humble, service oriented, and respectful with an eye on profits but not end all profit first only mentality.

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