I’m not certain when this happened but my business has become almost entirely Foreign Independent Travel, or FIT! Oh I yearn for a simple RSSC or Azamara cruise booking with a little pre/post package and some air. Some days it is overwhelming.
Here’s what I have going today with dozens more that do not need action this minute:
- France – roundtrip air tickets to Paris, roundtrip train tickets to Cannes, a Cannes hotel stay and insurance. The clients are actually visiting family so no touring involved – but still, it’s four vendors rolled into one trip.
- London/Paris – open jaw air tickets, train between cities, hotels in each, day trips from London to both Highclere and the McLaren Tech Center, private tour with guide of the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert. In Paris – private tour of Versailles, and private shopping tour in Paris, insurance and transfers everywhere.
- Florence and Cinque Terre with Geneva and London – yes, that’s right – multiple vendors all over the place; I can’t even begin to type them out.
This is just a sample of what is going on. Through the end of the year, I have a ton of FITs like this and exactly eight sea cruises, six river cruises (and I’m tempted to call these “FIT” because of complicated pre/post tours), one escorted tour, and three – that’s right, three all-inclusive packages in the Caribbean!
It seems to me that this started about two years ago; and while I’m not 100% certain, I think that I drove myself into this. I think that clients who came in undecided (sea, land, foreign, domestic, escorted, etc), were given a hard sell on “experiential” travel – by me! This was not intentional but would have come out of the initial interview to qualify the clients.
The bottom line is that these bookings are producing more revenue than the “off the shelf” stuff out of a brochure.
But..am I happier doing this? I’m not certain. I’m finding that I have a lot more on my mind and my internal to-do list often accompanies me home from the office. I also find that I am suddenly working harder, not smarter, than I would like to. I know that I am talented at this and that I am producing fantastic vacations for my clients. I suspect that years of listening to Nolan Burris has brought me to this. What I don’t know is whether I am happy doing this! Do you struggle with your business mix?
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.