Last week I had the opportunity to serve on a panel at the Boston Home Based Travel Agent Forum and attend the trade show. I also had the opportunity to meet a good many of the 600 attendees and learn a little bit about what they feel is needed for their agencies to thrive in today’s market.
Social Media. For the most part, agents realize and understand that to be in business today, you need to be involved in social media. However, most are not sure exactly how to go about it or how to determine what platform is right for them. Many need to be pointed in the right direction and others are old school and really need their hands held in a step by step program. This was further evidenced when more than 1000 people registered for a TRO webinar last week on the subject.
General Business Skills. Since today’s agent industry is primarily made up from home-based agents, I guess it is no surprise that general business skills are lacking. Most of the agents I spoke with had either come from a different industry (and were now working part or full time selling travel), were once based in a storefront, or have just decided that travel would be a great part time supplement to their income. For the most part, very few agents had ever owned or operated a business before. And many of the speakers emphasized that to be successful, you must treat your travel agency like a business—not a hobby. This treatment should include your goals along with the business and marketing plans to go along with them.
Nichifying. We heard from many speakers throughout the three days and most of the successful ones had a niche operation. There were corporate hotel specialists, river cruising specialists, family travel specialists, Disney specialists, and even one single parent travel specialist. The message was clear—become the expert in your own specialty and “own” it.
Of course there were other agents who had different needs for success in today’s market; but these three seemed to lead the pack by a great margin. TRO is a good resource to address these needs with the TRO Community, the No-Limits Webinars, the coaching, and the myriad of resources available for free. I am sure you have some needs not discussed. What are they? Please leave a comment and give us some direction and we will work together to make sure you are as successful as you can be!