Here we are at the end of the Travel Agent Diaries. I am still not quite sure where the year went, time has flown so quickly. Participating in the Travel Agent Diaries has definitely been a great experience – being publicly accountable helped me focus on the goal, even if I fell short in some areas.
As I reflect back on my first diary entry, I fell short of my group goal for 2012. My goal was to have four major group cruises on the books to sail in 2012 or 2013. I did have a Civil War group cruise lined up but it fell through. I have a fundraiser cruise for the Wounded Warrior Project sailing in December, but we fell far short of the number of staterooms we wanted. I was also able to book a group for spring break (March 2013); but it too, is much smaller than originally anticipated.
So as I continue to work through the 2013 marketing plan, I am still looking at ways to improve our group business. This includes improving my lead generation for groups, and putting different policies in place for the group leaders. I’m also looking at what was successful this year; primarily the consumer sports show in June where I had a booth. I don’t want to spend that much money on a regular basis, but I am interested in finding more consumer-focused shows where I can increase my exposure and brand. Another new focus for 2013 will be narrowing down my audience to the more affluent, luxury clients. The work is essentially the same; yet the reward so much greater.
Finally, as we quickly approach Thanksgiving I’m getting my ducks in a row, as I plan to go “off the grid” for the holiday week. We will be driving 2,400 miles round trip for our family Thanksgiving gathering. Although I’ll be off the grid (letting someone else back me up in the unlikely scenario that a client has an emergency), I will continue working on the 2013 marketing plan in the car. Once we “land,” I hope to be able to even put the marketing plan away for four days. During that time will be my much-needed time to unwind, relax and reconnect with my family. You might have noticed that, I said driving. One thing I have learned in my years as a travel consultant, and something I counsel clients about, is to avoid airports (and inflated airfares) during peak holiday travel. I would rather spend 40 hours over four days “trapped” in a vehicle with my family, than deal with TSA agents, cranky underpaid flight attendants, and entitled, exhausted, under-caffeinated (or over-intoxicated) passengers who are strangers.
I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy 2013 New Year!
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships N Trips Travel as well as niche operations trading as Kick Butt Vacations, focused on college students; Kick Butt Events focusing on fundraising; and Your Kiwi Specialist specializing in anything New Zealand. You can reach Susan by email at email@example.com.