Barbara Tautkus, Business Development Manager for Vacation Express
I have been very lucky to be with a company for 19 years as the Business Development Manager in one territory. Through the years the territory has gotten bigger and smaller, and we have adjusted to the nature of the travel industry. It is amazing to see how our industry has changed. I remember years ago when our business was based on brick and mortar store fronts. I could travel to a city and spend a week just in that city and surroundings, simply by calling on the many store fronts.
With the ever changing dynamics of our business, we have had to adjust. The store fronts that exist today are true survivors. Many agencies have closed and have made the decision to cut overhead and work from home. As a Business Development Manager, that has certainly added a new dimension to our business. The challenge for us is keeping in contact and staying in front of home-based agencies. How do you keep the line of communication open and make sure that our home-based accounts are getting our information and the knowledge they need to help them run a successful business?
I am learning new dimensions to our business are needed. For example, setting up coffee meetings or lunch dates for individual agencies and webinars are very important. Social media and email has become an essential part of our business for staying in touch. Times are very different now, travel schools are basically non-existent, which is why I find it a personal challenge to take new agents under my wing and try to give them the support and product knowledge they need to be successful in the travel business.
At Vacation Express our goal is to stay in the forefront of our agencies; both home-based and storefront. We host a series of trade shows in all of our major cities to provide agents with access to hotel suppliers and tourist boards to give them the opportunity to have one-on-one time with them. We also participate in major trade shows throughout the United States that are organized by various organizations.
I think the most personally satisfying experience is working with a new agent or agency and helping them set goals to make their business grow. We offer marketing tools such as direct mail pieces and email blasts customized to the needs of their clientele and their agency needs. In the past couple of years I have enjoyed working with cruise-only agencies; helping them understand the all-inclusive side of the business and the potential of earning more money selling air and land packages.
It is exciting to be a part of a company like Vacation Express that is on a rapid growth pattern of adding more non-stop charter flights to major cities around the world. It is with confidence that we can offer all travel agents an easy product to sell. It’s a great feeling to get up and go to work every day, feeling confident in the product that you sell and knowing you have a lot to offer, such as travel agent benefits and great customer service.
The best part of the day, is working one-on-one with an agent, and at the end of the day seeing that booking!