When first approached to write a monthly column in the Agent Diaries, I thought it would be a great opportunity to motivate and support my colleagues. What I really underestimated was the amazing value it would add to my personal motivation and growing my travel business! What started as an annual outline of business improvements to tackle each month such as marketing, obtaining referrals, working with suppliers, etc., has truly changed the way I now see the big picture, and that has trickled down to everyday positive changes. My biggest take away is that having a year end review and creating a plan for month-by-month evaluation and focus is critical for business success and personal job satisfaction. I will absolutely commit to an annual plan from now on! Read the rest of this entry »
Since fall is a bit slower, I’ve been taking the extra time to enhance my knowledge on agent incentive programs and destination knowledge. It’s really amazing how much there is to learn and what a challenge it is to stay updated with relevant information! Many hotels and resorts offer agent rewards that I was not even aware of, but have now registered. Read the rest of this entry »
A call came in from one of my favorite clients wanting a package to Maui – again! They have been to the island countless times and have consistently stayed at the same two resorts. Taking my roll as an “advisor” seriously, I mention perhaps exploring a different island in Hawaii or a new tropical destination. It would be quite easy to fulfill her request and have a nice easy booking, but I really feel like there is more out there for this lovely couple to see! Read the rest of this entry »
September was devoted to Supplier Relations and evaluating all aspects of how much of the success of my business is dependent on securing amazing suppliers. This really took a lot of thought to determine what I need in a supplier, how to cultivate and maintain a positive relationship, and ultimately if a supplier falls short how to handle that situation. I started by breaking down the qualities that are a “must have” for people and companies I’d like to do business with: Read the rest of this entry »
As the summer madness seems to have come to a lull, the plan for this month was to enhance Client Relations. Since positive client relations is the key to keeping clients and obtaining referrals, I wanted to be sure a sustainable plan was in place. In keeping with my mantra, I need a plan that is very streamlined, simple, and easy to maintain. I’ve broken client relations into 3 parts: Communications, Gifts, and Client Retention. Read the rest of this entry »
To empower is “to have the authority or power to do something” and also “to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.” That one word really carries a lot of weight! Empowerment can come from yourself, your boss, and even your client when they give you the authority to make travel related decisions on their behalf. To be empowered is to be confident! As you can see empowerment could come from others, but most importantly it must come from yourself. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m thrilled to report this month has been fantastic and business is excellent! Since it’s summer, the focus has really been on wrapping up summer trips for clients, distributing documents, and handling any last-minute requests. Many clients have already returned, and the feedback is generally positive. Of course there are some challenges – some are in my control and others are not. Regardless, one constant is that problems do come up and wreak havoc! It was my goal this month to create a plan of prevention and resolution, and that has been helpful. Read the rest of this entry »
Good morning! Or is it? How important is it to start your day with good habits and the right frame of mind? Research shows it’s critical! How you start your day has far-reaching positive and negative ramifications that affect work, personal life, and your overall well-being. We’ve all started the day in a panic because we are running late or need to immediately go into crisis mode, only to see the morning hours fade and the rest of the day be unproductive. There are days we wrap up work and feel elated and pleased with the services we have provided and the impact we’ve made; then there are other days when burn out and allow negativity to set in. Believe it or not, the first few minutes of your waking hours set the tone and paves the way for how you experience everything throughout the rest of your day.
Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans. It has been a crazy May on many levels. My intention and written goal for May was to focus on a plan for generating referrals, but honestly I was pulled in many directions and backed away from that goal. At the moment, I am going to keep it simple with my policy regarding referrals – I only work on referrals from a current client. Thankfully, business is strong and I would like to consciously develop the caliber of clientele that I enjoy, and that will be profitable and hassle free. That may mean breaking away from a few current clients or sometimes referring business to a colleague; but I am ready to embark on the journey of cultivating the right profile of client to engage in a mutually beneficial professional relationship. Read the rest of this entry »
As our success depends upon the client-travel advisor relationship, I have been paying particular attention to the initial “pitch” when potential new clients call. Sometimes they are eager to launch into the specifics of the trip or start their line of questions to get advice. Of course the initial call must go extremely well to obtain their business and make a prospect an actual client. So it’s of relevance to know how that actually happens, and while this is not a scientific or foolproof method – I think most would agree that success is found in the connection we make with the client or prospect. The critical element in success to our business is our ability to connect with our clients! Read the rest of this entry »
As the career profile and job description of the travel “agent” has evolved into being a travel “advisor”, travel professionals have evolved into much more than order takers. In other words, we’re not just here to process payments and book travel, we are here to guide and educate our clients. Therefore, the heart of our book of business is undeniably built on the trust, respect, and the rapport we develop with our clients. How this relationship is established is critical to maintaining longevity as your clients return to you—their travel guru.
According to Harry Beckwith, author of You, Inc., the FIRST thing to sell is yourself! This is extremely critical and lays the foundation for all aspects of your business. Perhaps this sounds easier said than done, especially when you receive a call and the prospect dives right into the specifics of their wants, needs, and ideas for their upcoming vacation. Read the rest of this entry »
This past month, the goal was to gain some clarity on my objective, service, and message. It’s actually harder than it seems! After much wrangling and really focusing on the language for a mission statement, it’s absolutely going to become the foundation for how I currently do business and guide my future growth. Looking back, I wish I had done this much sooner! It is never too late, and I feel that creating a clear emphatic statement in writing to guide any business can only be helpful. Read the rest of this entry »
This past month was dedicated to tackling the daunting task of “getting organized.” Improving organization is always on my to-do list, in the plan, with my goals, and written as a resolution. Perhaps the same is true with you? The hurdle is taking the time to reach a sustainable and logical method of organization! This is especially challenging this time of year as clients are planning summer trips, so this would be considered more of a peak time. Read the rest of this entry »
At first glance, leaders and sales people may seem polar opposites – but think again! A strong sales person must possess the same qualities that make a strong leader as your success hinges on one critical factor: the trust of your people. In essence, you’re really saying “Follow Me” to your clients as they entrust their time, money, and travel dreams to you. Winning long term clients and sustaining happy clients also requires the self-assurance and magnetism of a true leader. To deliver results in a challenging business, authority, and unflinching confidence are the keys to success. Read the rest of this entry »
The first order of business for 2016 was to formulate and implement an actual marketing plan, like a PROactive one and not a REactive one!
The pillars of the plan were a newsletter, organized client rosters and lists, and a new client welcome packet by e-mail and regular mail. It was a bit of a challenge to plan the schedule and frequency since I do not want to annoy clients with too many emails or calls, but it must be enough to stay top of mind and hit at peak vacation planning times. We will see how it goes and analyze the long-term results and feedback, but at this point I’ve settled into the following marketing schedule: Read the rest of this entry »
We all have challenges hearing! Let’s face it, we often hear the actual sounds and verbiage, but fall a bit short on the analysis and next step. It’s critical to the sales process and the success of any business to not just hear, but to actively listen. You must process and act on that information! One hurdle to get over for any good listener is that people may be telling you what you DON’T want to hear, thus changing the course of your interaction and your ultimate sales outcome. Do not dismiss this information or assume anything; it’s all critical to forming a strong relationship and securing a sale. Read the rest of this entry »
Hello! I am Marti Litwin, an independent home based travel advisor with En Route Travel in Westlake Village, CA. I have been in the travel business for 5 years now and have really enjoyed my clients, colleagues, and of course, the opportunity to travel a bit more! My background and previous work experience were totally unrelated to travel. I have a Master’s from the University of Southern California in Gerontology and worked at USC doing marketing before I became a teacher for a few years prior to having kids. I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and loved every minute of it! It has definitely been a journey entering this profession and arriving to where I am today. But, I’m excited and honored to be writing for TRO Travel Agent Diaries. Read the rest of this entry »
While working in the travel business, I have noticed a few “fear based” notions when it comes to luxury. First of all, it seems that many people tread lightly or are initially apprehensive to sell a luxury product, usually for fear that will eliminate the client’s interest in working together. If your advice comes with a lofty price tag, that could be alienating to a newer client that cannot afford it or may perceive your services as not worth the money. This is completely understandable from the client and agent perspectives, as we would never want to scare anyone away! This scenario, however, is usually avoidable by qualifying the client, asking for previous travel experiences, and of course determining their travel budget. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently while in the bookstore perusing the bargain section, a book called “A Simple Act of Gratitude” caught my eye. It had the tag line “How learning to say thank you changed my life”; I became very curious about the story behind that. So I purchased this book by John Kralik and read it all in a day! Although not a literary masterpiece, the idea is so simple yet so profound. Read the rest of this entry »
“You’re not rich until you have something money can’t buy.”
This quote truly summarizes the thought we want to convey to our clients! Since they are purchasing an intangible item and making an investment in creating quality use of time, both of those purchases are really priceless. Our clients are not actually buying a material item for personal use or to display in their home – they are spending their money on an experience. Time is obviously something money cannot buy; yet it must be spent wisely, and the only remaining evidence of time well spent are personal memories. Read the rest of this entry »
Where I am, if you’ve been to a big celebration recently you’ve probably heard the song “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. It really gets the party started! The lyrics, “I’ve got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night” really sets the tone for the evening and everyone is up on their feet dancing in no time flat. It may sound basic, but clients want to feel good about their travel advisor and have that preparatory excitement to get the planning started. It’s important to examine that aspect of your relationship with your clients, co-workers, and even suppliers. Read the rest of this entry »