It’s been said that Thanksgiving is the “official” start of the holiday season. But if you have been shopping anytime in the past thirty days, you would see that the “official, official” start seems to be just before Halloween. Traditionally in the travel industry, this is a slow time–an ebb tide. It seems that most people are only concerned with their regular routines, two major, upcoming meals, holiday spending and just making it through to see in 2013. For me, travel inquiries (and deposits) have come to a screeching halt!
The corporate traveler is likely staying local for the holidays and putting the wraps on another year, or possibly making a mileage run to move up to “platinum.” Any travel happening around the holidays has already been booked and paid in full. Certainly, very few leisure travelers are thinking about spring break or summer travel. So what is a travel agent to do?
This is a perfect time to get it all together.
- Clear out the clutter. Ditch last year’s brochures, spring clean your office. Maybe now is the time to go paperless as much as you can.
- Contact your clients. Make sure you let them know you are thinking about them. Don’t sell them, just say hello. Send them a hand signed card—yes, hand signed!
- Look at your marketing plan (you should have made it a few months ago for 2013) and tweak it. Has anything changed in the meantime to affect your business?
- Connect with your colleagues and see if there are any ways that you can work together to increase both of your businesses in 2013. If nothing else, connect to say hello.
- Identify your top 20 clients over the past few years and focus on them in 2013—give then VIP status. Monthly notes or letters. Access to a special fare. An upgraded amenity when they travel. It is a lot easier to keep a client than to get one!
- While you are in your database, why not update your client profiles. Are they single, married, with children, divorced? Do they like cruises, tours, FITs? Are they leisure or corporate or both? How do they like to be contacted—phone, email, Facebook, text message, or not at all? With this information you can position yourself way in front of the competition.
- Try to look to 2014. OK so it is a year away, but get yourself in the mindset that you are going to still be here and stronger than ever. Look at trends and see if there is a niche you can develop—they don’t develop overnight, you know!
- Rest up a little. Take a day off here and there and let any telephone calls go to voicemail. Clear your head. Smell the air. It’s been a tough few years, we’re still not out of the woods and you deserve it!
- Change the oil in your car, your smoke detector batteries, and the filters in your furnace. Why? Because you know they’re due and you just haven’t had the time to get them done.
Before you know it, January will be here and the phones will begin ringing again, the web traffic will grow, and people will once again be thinking about travel and (more importantly) booking it! This business is cyclical and each year most of us see the ebbs and flows. We are in an ebb now, so let’s take the time to be ready for whatever 2013 will throw our way.
What do you do to decompress after a busy year? Do you see a downturn in business the last few months of the year? Let me know!