TRO is going to follow the progress of a few travel agents and their business over the course of 2009 to allow our readers the opportunity of comparing notes and experiences with other agents. These brave souls have promised to write about both their successes and failures this year. Be sure to leave them some comments if you would like to share some of your own experiences.
People come into the travel industry a lot of different ways. Some are here because it’s a family business. Others take a part time job in travel and wind up loving it, and staying in it for years. My story is a little different. My name is Laura Frazier and I am the president of Bliss Honeymoons.
Like many people I went to college right out of high school. But I was young and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so after a year I decided to take a year off to make money. One year became ten or so, and I found myself in retail management working 60 to 80 hours a week, with no real days off. I had always regretted not finishing my education, and realized that if I were ever going to get out of retail I had to go back to school. But I didn’t want to wind up in another career that would lead to working nonstop. I wanted a vacation. While reviewing the course catalog at Ohio University I found they offered a Travel & Tourism program, and decided that was the right path for me.
Bliss Honeymoons is an unusual sort of travel agency. While most agencies have a division or a couple of agents who specialize in a specific niche, our entire agency is solely focused on the honeymoon market.
I never intended to become a host agency, let alone having multiple locations. But once I started working, I quickly realized that many agents were facing the same challenges I experienced. How do you compete against the online agencies and the national brands? How do avoid spending hours on end working on itineraries only to have that client book it themselves? How do you establish a steady stream of clients? How do you know which niche to pursue? I quickly learned that being in travel today is much more about sales and marketing rather than geography, and started taking a much different approach to this business. I decided to focus on just one client-the romance client, and build the business from there. After a few years of trial and error, I decided to create a system that other agents could utilize to address the challenges they were experiencing in their business. This is how the Bliss Honeymoons licensed dealership program came to be.
While the dealership program is less than a year old, we’ve already grown to 6 locations. Our program wide goal for 2009 is 100 new clients in the first 100 days of 2009. So for better or worse, 1 client or 100 we agreed to put it all out there and allow other to share in our experience through the TRO Agent Diary series. Throughout the year, I will be reporting on the progress of my individual agency sales as well as the progress of the dealerships. I plan to share the common issues, successes, and failures that we experience; and, how we resolved them—or not.
Here’s to an exciting 2009!
Laura Frazier is the President of Bliss Honeymoons based in Columbus, OH. For more information, you can contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org
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