I suspect that most of us are glad this recession appears to be waning, as there is no question that we have seen years full of challenges for both travel suppliers and travel agents alike. And, while there are some positive indications that immediate future looks better, there are a lot of travel professionals who are not so optimistic.
We all know that for four years (2008-2011) the travel industry slowed. Travel suppliers were forced to come out with some innovative offers, most of which included lower prices, which resulted in lower commissions for travel agents. But, many agents faced the problem head on by aggressively marketing the resulting great offers. And guess what happened? Many of them had great years. They saw the glass as half full and marketed the offers their preferred suppliers were offering. Do you think the suppliers didn’t take notice of which agents helped them survive the Great Recession?
It is no surprise that some agents see the present, as a half-full glass with many opportunities, while others are seeing a half-empty one with less commissions for the foreseeable future. My point is that travel agents need to start thinking and marketing like the glass is half full.
For eight years, I hosted a two hour Saturday morning radio show, in Miami. While we prided ourselves in having great cruise industry guests and a very entertaining show, I knew that many of our listeners were tuning in for the weekly specials. We rode that horse, and built our mailing list to over 70,000 travel club members. They were looking for the deals and our $28 million a year in sales, proved that we found them for them. I am not suggesting this would work in this market, but today’s agent needs to think out of the box!
If you are going to survive in today’s Internet world, you have to keep sifting though that half full glass and find the specials your clients will buy. If you don’t find them first, you can bet someone else will; and then yor clients will no longer be yours. And by the way, the specials do not necessarily need to be the cheapest product out there. There are plenty of moderate and high priced products available that clients crave.
I hope that all of you will make it your number one priority to join the ranks of the positive minded travel agents who see the glass as half full, and start marketing all of the great offers your preferred suppliers send your way. And you know what? If you do, your glass will be completely full before you know it.
Larry Norman, CTC, MCC is an icon in the industry. He has been a consultant to over 5,000 Home Based Travel Agents and trained an estimated 22,000 travel agents over his career. He was Travel Trade’s 1996 Travel Educator of the Year. Larry owned a four state network of 17 agencies, with annual sales of $28 million. Larry is known as “The Outside Sales Agent Expert” for his presentations on outside sales at Travel Trade Cruise-A-Thons, ASTA, ARTA and NACOA travel agent conferences among others. You can share your views with Larry at LarryNormanCTC@gmail.com