Who to ask for help when your travel agency needs it | Travel Research Online


Who to ask for help when your travel agency needs it

Last week, TRO Publisher, Richard Earls wrote a column that got me thinking critically about my agency—go read it, it’s well worth the three minutes. I’ll be honest, my business is not burning any barns this year. Granted we are not down, but based on the economic recovery, I had expected to see the purse strings loosened up a little more to see more single parents traveling.

I could sit back and just take what came my way by continuing doing what I am doing—it’s working. We’re growing–just not enough. Or, I could do something. Enter Richard’s column.

We all fall victim to our own great ideas. I know that I routinely come up with ideas that I am convinced will propel my agency into the stratosphere—Steve Wynn would have nothing on me. Usually, they flop; but hey, I tried. Sometimes they work. But as I thought about Richard’s column, I realized that the best ideas are likely not coming from me.

While I think a new feature, amenity, or destination is exactly what my clients are looking for; the fact remains that I am not the one buying the trip or the experience—they are!

So, I did just as he suggested…and asked. I hoped that the feedback would be useful and not brutal…and it was. While still more is coming in (I sent out a Survey Monkey survey with a lot of open ended questions), I found out much of what I already knew and suspected plus a few surprises.

  • More active trips. This is a departure from 3 years ago when lethargy seemed to be the word.
  • More single dads on trips. This is my nemesis and have no idea on how to solve that. I have tried to put together “manly” trips only to be rebuffed by the women saying it was not their style.
  • More upscale trips. This one goes back and forth a little. When we launched many moons ago, we focused on the budget keeping in mind that a single parent (nearly by definition) was a single income. We had requests for upscale and it worked, and then waned again. I guess we are on the upscale and this may indeed be a big part of why we are only up slightly over last year.
  • Do a Disney trip. Disney has always been difficult for us. The organization is fine, but part of what we do is connecting families with like interests and let’s be honest, Disney is “interest overload.” We have not been able to find a way to effectively manage a group in Disney and not have them scatter through out the properties to quench their individual desires.
  • Send out your newsletter more often. I think this is a problem we all have from time to time. There are only so many hours in the day and the newsletter tends to be at the bottom. I also struggle with content. I do not typically sell general travel—I specialize in specific groups. And absent any single parent minded travel stories, I fear alienating my subscribers with pitch after pitch after pitch. So, my monthly newsletter is monthly-ish and apparently it needs to be more frequent.

More critique is coming in as we speak and I look forward to it with trepidation. If anyone has any suggestions for me, I’m all ears!

Thanks for the wakeup call Richard!


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