Since 2016, luxury cruise capacity increased by 45%. In two more years, it will have more than doubled. Brands in the luxury tour and hotel segments are also increasing their offerings at a record pace to meet a growing demand. Yet, according to a survey conducted by a leading travel industry weekly publication, agency focus on selling luxury sales is DOWN 5%! Traditional agencies, over $10 million in sales, are down a whopping 9%!
Obviously, there is tremendous demand for deluxe and luxury experiential travel products. Seriously, why else would companies such as Insight, Tauck, Seabourn, Crystal, Regent, and others be making such a huge investment to grow their product offerings? Especially the deluxe and luxury cruise lines, where new ships cost half a billion dollars or more.
The simple explanation for the decrease of agency focus is that there is a real shortage of agents “qualified” to sell to affluent buyers.
I don’t mean from a product knowledge perspective; that’s easy to acquire. Study a few YouTube videos, take the online educational program, or better yet – experience the product as a guest would experience it. I am talking the part that takes place between your ears, and having the right skill sets to sell and serve affluent clients.
Here’s the thing, if we as travel professionals are not scaling to serve this demand, then customers are forced to book direct and no one wins (except the supplier). Fortunately, you can learn both the mindset and the skills required to build a clientele of affluent travelers.
My guess is you are like thousands of other travel agents who only dream of breaking into this market. Believe me when I say that I have heard all the excuses such as, “I don’t’ have those kind of customers” “People like that won’t buy from me.” “I live in the wrong part of town.” And the list goes on.
Tell me what you can do, not what you can’t! We have to challenge the belief that luxury sales are limited only to a few chosen agencies and consortia. If you are willing to commit to learning and executing a sales strategy focused on developing an affluent clientele as part of your overall business plan, I promise you will be very pleased with the results.
As an agent, I was stuck selling mass market cruises and tours. We were only making a couple of hundred bucks for each sale. We were going broke because we couldn’t do the volume to compete, nor did we have the marketing funds required to build a business based on mass market product.
But let’s be real, there is a lot more to it than simply hanging out a shingle and announcing to the world you are in the luxury travel business.
I was fortunate to have strong mentors early in my career. Once I figured out the secrets of selling to the affluent, my sales & profits skyrocketed. I began to notice other successful travel sales professionals, but none had a formal, systematic process to find and target qualified prospects.
As a sales leader with two of the largest travel franchise companies in the industry, I began sharing these secrets with business owners, managers and agents. Later as Vice President of Sales for Windstar Cruises, I regularly included them as part of product training with travel professionals all over the world.
Once you understand what Affluent Travel really is all about, it becomes easy to identify and find your prospects. It will all come together quickly, and you will find yourself on the path to becoming a Wealthy Travel Agent.
Dan Chappelle is a professional business advisor, sales coach, author, and speaker. His training and consulting firm helps develop sales oriented business leaders, individual salespeople, and entrepreneurs, His best-selling book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on Amazon.com.
For information on Dan’s Sales Acceleration programs, visit: www.DanChappelle.com
©2017 Dan Chappelle, CCI Inc.