I was going to write about the importance of having a niche or specialty versus being a generalist and trying to service everyone. I truly believe that having a niche or specialty is paramount to success in this business, but as the economy has wavered over the past year, I have found myself taking business where I can.
I would say that up to last October, I was doing quite well with business. I have the privilege of having clients from all over the country and many still were traveling to Europe. My business was quite focused on the destinations of Europe. Many of the clients had already planned for travel and even with the economy, decided to go forward; which carried me through the summer and fall months.
Although Europe is quite diverse and a year round destination, my business started to drop off as these clients returned. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much call for winter travel to Europe, even though it is a great value and much less hectic. Also, I don’t have many clients who are skiers, so the winter season really did not help things. Even now, I am feeling the stresses of my “slow” season.
I said that I wanted to discuss the idea of a niche versus being a generalist. Given that I have keenly focused on my “passion destinations”, I started to lose clients who did not share that passion. In the past, I was able to replace those clients with others whose passion matched mine. In an up economy, it’s something that can work; but in a down one, filling that void becomes more difficult.
I have found it is extremely important to connect with every client, past and present, no matter their travel destination. So, in an effort to gain business this winter, I started to follow up with these past clients with phone calls, emails and letters. What I discovered is that these clients still wanted to work with me, and although they wanted destinations outside of my passion, I was still familiar enough to be able to fill the void in my business! This simple action helped carry me through a very difficult time.
Business for Europe is starting to pick up with many clients booking from March into the summer, so I feel optimistic about the business going forward. When I first started out in the industry, I was told that it is very important to have specialties. I lived that through the first few years of Wandering Puffin LLC; but I also found that a good client is a good client, no matter the destination. I truly believe word of mouth via any form of social networking is the most powerful tool in your arsenal.
No doubt, it was a very scary time when the requests were not there. It didn’t help that a large source of leads, Tripology, shut down. I tried another lead service and am testing the waters, although I am hopeful Tripology will rise from the ashes. What I have learned is that this business is a balance of many things. I don’t consider myself a generalist, but it is nice to have a back up, especially when you are a one man band.
Jamison Bachrach is better known as the Wandering Puffin for the way he likes to travel. Jamison has been in the travel industry for almost 14 years and has been home based for a little more than 2 years and specializes in independent European travel planning, specifically, central and eastern Europe, as well as Scandinavia.
Jamison has traveled to over 35 countries, including most of Europe. Wandering Puffin LLC. Is located in Plymouth, MN. Jamison can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 763-244-0669. www.wanderingpuffin.com.
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