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Continuing to weather the recession in five easy steps

January 28th, 2013 . by John Frenaye

Our economy, despite what the government will lead you to believe, is still on shaky ground. Don’t get me wrong, it is a whole hell of a lot better than it was two years ago, but there is still some work to be done. And a shaky economy can have a huge impact on home-based travel professionals and their businesses. When you depend on your income to put food on the table, there is little room for error.

The problem is that clients and prospects are doing exactly what we are doing—trying to save dollars; and if they are spending, they are trying to get the most bang for their buck. Maintaining a cash flow for a small to medium sized home-based business can be difficult—I know, I am living it.  So, here are five strategies that have helped me over the years and continue to help me to this day!

Step Back

The first thing you can do to revive your business is take a step back. Reduce or drop your fees for new clients. I realize this goes against conventional wisdom and any income drop is a difficult pill to swallow. But the fact remains—it works.  As I see it, no one likes to drop their fees (mind you I am not suggesting rebating), but there are really only two choices:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Get over it and open yourself up to a much larger pool of potential clients

Upsell

This is the easiest of them all. Sell insurance. Sell shore excursions or off resort tours. Sell a higher category cabin or room. Extend the time. Or even convert a single booking into a group. You know how to do that right? Ask! “Mr. Smith, this is a fantastic trip we have here for you, do you think any of your neighbors or families might like to join you?” Boom!

And don’t think your clients aren’t being upsold anyway. Just try to buy something simple online.  How many times do you have to say “no” before you get to “buy me” button?  I recently bought a domain from Go Daddy and I was asked about ten optional services and purchases—additional, similar domains; privacy; hosting;ad-parking; multi year purchases, etc.  I hate to say it, but I think today’s consumer is almost expecting it. So go for it. The worst you will get is a “no.”

Curb the spending

As Uncle Joey used to say on Full House, “cut…it…out.”  Everyone will tell you this but take a look at the expenses and cut back—way back. Can things be emailed rather than snail mailed? Can you use a generic brand of copy/printer paper? Do you have a fax line that you can ditch? Land line? Turn down the heat. Turn up the air-conditioning. Stop going to Starbucks! You get the idea!

Buddy up

I am seeing more and more agents working in cooperation than from an adversarial position. If you are not an expert in Australia, why not make an arrangement for an Australian agent to handle your clients looking for Australia; and you handle his clients specific to your own specialty? 

Other ways to work together is to work with another trusted professional to help split the workload. If you both have an assistant, maybe you can eliminate one (share the cost) or both and handle it yourselves.  Think out of the box and find a way to work together.

Consider outsourcing

Hiring someone to do your work may sound counterintuitive to saving money; but it isn’t. How much of your day is spent doing mundane, but necessary, tasks that can easily be handled by a trained chimp?  Newsflash: chimps work for a lot less money! Some aspects of your business that might be a candidate for outsourcing include answering phones, email broadcasting, document mailing, scanning emails for appropriate offers, enhancing your marketing database, customer follow up calls. Allow your expertise to work for you. You have not spent all these years so you can lick stamps and address brochures!  Take the time saved and…you guessed it—sell!

So there you have it, my 5 tips to give you a little leg up as we all continue to weather this storm! What have you done? If you have a tip to share, please leave a comment!

 

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Join the Discussion - Post your comment  2 Responses to “Continuing to weather the recession in five easy steps”

  1. Geoff Millar Says:

    I do agree with everything you are saying. The only other thing I have to say is I don’t see any recession as far as travel is concerned. We have seen record sales for everyone of the last 13 months including Jan of this year. We are already 30% over last January.

    We were just in Cancun the first week of last Dec and much to my suprise, the majority of resorts we visited were at over a 90% occupancy rate and some were at 100% so we couldn’t even see a room. People are purchasing travel from someone. For Jan we are closing anywhere from 5-12 sales a day.

    I have found that you really have to qualify and educate your prospects a lot more than previous years.. We now spend about 1/2 hr – 45 minutes qualifying and educating our prospects before we even speak about a product. Since we are doing this our close rate is increasing drastically. One big thing that helps is we strictly specialize.

  2. Ginny Says:

    Business might be up for the individual traveler, but not for the group market. I have had 5 7-10 day tours cancel for March. I am a receptive operator so I don’t have any control of the sales to the individuals. I used to have 100-150 tours a year. Since September I have had one. The seniors that go on group tours are watching the disgusting mess in Washington and they are scared to death. I do hope 2013 picks up.

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