How to make a lead generation program work – a Travel Agent’s Perspective | TravelResearchOnline


How to make a lead generation program work – a Travel Agent’s Perspective

Many of us in the travel business rely on lead programs to boost our business. Agents need to establish a process that works for them and search for a company that best meets their requirements. Tripology is the company I have been using consistently and with great results. Many of the agents who work with A Ticket 2 Travel, my host agency in San Jose California and a member, are using this lead service successfully as well. My sales from Tripology leads are over $120,000 for 2009 already, and I close approximately one sale out of every ten leads I invest in.

Sometimes getting discouraged and taking rejection personally can be two of the side effects of any lead program. Just remember, it is not you but the nature of the beast. People today are used to shopping the mega online travel sites without ever having to establish a personal relationship. Our job is to educate and demonstrate that we provide personal services they won’t find anywhere else.

When you accept a lead and fail to receive a response after a couple of attempts – don’t give up! If the travelers’ travel date is in the future, hold onto that lead and mark the calendar to follow up with them 2 months before their listed departure date. This actually works very well and I have secured business, which I was not expecting by making this my practice. (They are sometimes “shopping” and might not be ready to get serious 6 months out.)

My favorite lead experience with Tripology was one I accepted in Sept 08. Every year this family takes a Thanksgiving vacation. Luckily the lead was very communicative and let me know that he had never used a travel agent before nor did he consider his itinerary set until the end of his trip. In other words he “likes to mix things up as he goes along”. This trip was challenging in many ways, but, I am always up for a good challenge. This was a family of five with three children under the age of eight. The father is a guy who likes to be busy and travels constantly for business. One of his requirements was that the accommodations should be “off the beaten track” and not the usual cookie cutter chain hotel. He also insisted everyone be in the same room (as you know the max is 4 usually) and wanted good hotel amenities.

This was to be a two-island Hawaii vacation. After giving them some choices and sample itineraries to choose from, we decided on a unique hotel (4 Stars) on the Big Island for the first 4 nights. I won’t name the property, but suffice it to say it is the only one of its kind and highly rated. I felt it would give them that Aloha experience we all love.

The other island was to be Maui – and because of the cooperation of the Wailea Marriott to put all five guests in one of its ocean view suites, we booked it and they had a great experience and service there. Travel Insurance was included (even though it was not usually a concern of his) because… I just had a feeling we might need it.

Luckily, I was having Thanksgiving at my house that year and not traveling because I received a call almost every day from my client! He had some concerns with the hotel on the Big Island –a list of 16 things, which I received in a letter to submit to the supplier when they returned home. In the meantime, we worked things out with the management to their satisfaction and there were things they liked about the hotel (such as children’s activities) to stay put.

After being in Maui for two nights, I received another phone call saying they decided they were bored in Wailea and had found the Hotel Hana where they wanted to stay for a couple of nights and extend their trip which meant extending the car rental and changing the air. The two nights in Wailea and two nights in Hana were a perfect mix.

In retrospect, it was actually a great experience. The clients were very happy with their experience and apologized profusely for bothering me. I assured them they did the right thing by calling so I could handle their concerns. The fact that none of their changes ended up costing them any change fees or penalties was impressive to them. There were no extra fees because: 1) I talked them into full coverage insurance; and 2) I used Classic Vacations whose 24/7 travel desk took care of all my needs. Classic went over and above for me and for my clients. To the point of even providing them with a generous future trip credit to make up for the complaints they had with the one hotel.

I ended up looking like a hero to my client and he has written the best testimonial to date on the Tripology website about my services! The sale was $10,000, excluding the air which the client took care of on his own! In addition, this year they are going to Central America and will be booking again with me.

Sandi MacKenzie is the owner of Getaways Travel in Grass Valley, CA. You can see her site at

Travel agents interested in investigating how to use Tripology in their practice can visit the company’s dedicated agent website at for information on how to become a registered Tripologist. If you have any questions regarding this new and exciting program, email Tripology at or call us at 800-924-0722.

  7 thoughts on “How to make a lead generation program work – a Travel Agent’s Perspective

  1. Michele says:

    To bad classic customs went out of business!

    1. John Frenaye says:

      Michele–Classic is still ion business if we are still talking about Ron Letterman’s company Classic Custom Vacations.

  2. Yes indeed, we are talking about Classic Custom Vacations based in the California Bay Area. They are certainly in business and one of the best suppliers I use in my travel business.

    1. John Frenaye says:

      SandiMichele (sorry had the wrong name)–you are mistaken. They are still very much in business. They are a separate operating division of Expedia and very much alive, well and servicing the luxury market.

  3. Hi Sandi,

    You stated that you have spent $120,000 dollars on leads and that you close 1out of 10. Question: have many leads does $120,000 BUY? The reason I’m asking is this, I’m in the Travel Ventures Internatioonal business and I was wondering if you would like to be partners?

    Kenneth Jones

    1. John Frenaye says:

      I will clarify the statement. Her SALES from the Tripology leads are $120,000.

      If I use some average numbers, it looks like this

      $2500 average leisure sale
      48 bookings = $120,000
      10% closing ratio means she bought 480 leads
      Leads run from $4 to $5 so say $4.50
      Total spend on leads was +/- $2160

      If the average commission is 10% that is a pretty decent ROI. $12,000 for $2160

  4. Mindy says:

    I suspect Michele is referring to Happy which did go out of business. Classic continues to be a very strong company one can rely upon. This is how damaging rumors get started!

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