Has anyone else changed or refined their niche and company’s sales strategy recently?
Although I opened my home based agency in 2007 and had over 25 years of sales and event planning experience, I never really felt like I had “made it.” I never felt the excitement and contentment that I had dreamed about for so many years when I thought about opening my own travel agency.
Sure, I had clients. I was selling general travel and cruises. I was always fighting the lower prices the Internet had to offer and working very hard to close the deal and provide excellent customer service. Because of all the time I spent taking care of these folks, I was not earning enough commission to compensate me for my time at an acceptable rate per hour.
The business I have always loved and been eager to embrace, became a source of discouragement and frustration. I had heard from day one that to be successful in the travel industry I needed to sell into a niche. I needed to become an expert in a certain area and stick with it. I was afraid of that approach. What if I could not find any clients? So I took the easy way out and sold whatever I was asked for.
When I ended up selling a four-day cruise and actually calculated that I had paid my clients to work for them (too many hours, too small of a commission) I knew it was time to change. I began to talk to colleagues and friends. I asked advice and questioned my continued commitment to the career I had chosen in the travel business. I kept hearing the same answer. Do what you love. Sell the one thing that makes you happy. I let that thought roll around in my head for a while but when I read the recent TRO series about the Blue Ocean Strategy I finally got it. I had a clear understanding of what I wanted to do and what would make me the contented person I had once been.
I am now in the process of re-launching myself as a Personal Special Destination Events Planner. I charge a fee by the hour to plan very specific and intricate experiences for my clients while they are on a luxury cruise or enjoying all of the amenities at a five star beach resort.
I have the satisfaction of seeing all of the details come together. My clients enjoy very special and unique vacations. My business has already shown marked improvement. I have customers who respect the fact that I am an expert planner, and know that a fee is expected for my time and knowledge. I make commission from my preferred suppliers and my client gets to enjoy the credit for giving a loved one an event to remember.
I feel like I have finally found the road that I am supposed to travel. My future looks bright. I am optimistic. How about you?
Carla Boscarino is the owner of Beaches and Boats Travel located in Houston, Texas. They specialize in planning unique and custom anniversaries, birthdays, romantic getaways, honeymoons and family holidays.