We are no longer with American Express and are now with Travel Leaders and suddenly it is the normal state of being. Honestly, it can’t be anything but that now – we’re so busy that we can’t pay attention to the change in our status. What is going on here?
Could it possibly be the end of the recession? Business is coming in for the three employee agents like its 2007! Almost more than we can handle, really. Well, almost.
Where is the business coming from? Some surprising places, actually. It seems that while we are no longer with American Express Consumer Travel Network, nothing dies on the internet – we are getting calls from people who somehow believe we are with still affiliated and then are disappointed to learn we are not. We do manage to get that business probably 50% of the time–these are people more interested in our location than our affiliation. In May of last year, the agency and several of our agents, made the “Best Agents in Town” list in Washingtonian Magazine – resulting in a call per day, on average. I’ve been writing travel-related articles for “Inside Bethesda” magazine and these seem to be capturing people for the agency as well. And or course, our Travel Leaders profiles are bringing in some business. Past customers are returning and referring others to us. We even take in some business from a local competing agency here in Bethesda, and I personally take referrals from a friendly competitor who specializes in high-end honeymoons–he doesn’t like to sell what he hasn’t seen himself.
I’ve been wondering about how all this happens and really it’s a combination of years of networking that leads to all these contacts and all this “notoriety.” I’ve come to realize that any marketing will not produce immediate results. In fact, there may be no results at all. I’ve come to see that it is only with multiple contacts that you will gain a client relationship.
I had written five pieces for “Inside Bethesda” before anyone mentioned to us that they had read one. And the funny thing is that the client contacted us after reading a piece about how not to get sick while flying. She booked air tickets and a hotel with my colleague.
It was years of attending vendor events and drinking red wine and eating hors d’ouevres with the same group of travel agents in town that led one of the agents to recommend us for the Washingtonian piece.
All of the networking over the years will eventually pay dividends. It’s never ending and it doesn’t happen over night! Of course a recession that appears to be easing doesn’t hurt any either!
Mindy Milliron has been a professional travel consultant since 1996 working in suburban Washington, DC. She specializes in personalized vacations and exotic adventures. Mindy has earned her CTA, and is certified as a specialist luxury travel and destination weddings. She has been employed by three agencies and her current agency is in the process of shifting affiliations from American Express to Travel Leaders.