The future is very bright for the travel industry. It’s true – demand for luxury travel grew in 2014 (and continues into 2015), many agencies are reporting a banner year, and experts expect travel to continue to grow into 2016 and beyond. How do you cultivate your share? With a plan.
Really, there are five steps you must take to monetize your passion for travel. As we begin to think forward to 2016 I suggest you find a plan. Follow the five-step plan below to cultivate your own banner year.
1 – Establish your business model. What does this mean? It means get clear on your numbers so they work for you. You can’t capture a dream without a vision. You can’t plan an itinerary with no destination. I see a lot of people skipping this step. Establish goals and then map out how you will get there. My best tip is to start with the end: in other words, begin your goal setting by estimating how much money you will spend in the calendar year. If you have been in business for at least 1 year, you have a great guide for this – what did you spend last year? Start with what you spent before and then dig down into the details. Add a salary or increase it. Add an expense line for paying for an assistant or new person on your team. Add expense lines for the travel you intend to take. And by all means, add an expense line for your coaching, mentoring, and personal development. It’s like nutrition – you can’t survive without it, nor can you get it all at once… it must be slow dripped. Once you have exhausted all possible expenses for the year, total it up and now you have your revenue goal. Take your gross number, adjust for a split with your host agency (if you have one) and back out a sales goal. Break down your sales goal into monthly goals and start brainstorming with yourself or your team about how you will achieve it.
2 – Create a clear and compelling message. Your message begins with picking a specialty. The number one reason you should pick a specialty is because experts make more money, plain and simple. So pick a specialty and stick to it. Your message is HOW you will market and articulate your specialty. If it’s family travel, don’t tell prospects your specialty is family travel. Instead, tell them you help families take meticulously planned vacations packed with great value and fun memories.
3 – Create your core marketing foundation. Your marketing foundation consists of the items you create once and then refer back to again and again. The most important part of your marketing foundation is that a consistent theme is threaded throughout. The theme should be your core, compelling message. Your marketing foundation will do the work for you if you are successful at this. Included in the list of foundation items is the name of your business (be clear, not cute), a logo, a website (that is NOT a cookie cutter site with third party-fed content, which completely confuses prospects), an electronic newsletter template, and a business card.
4 – Create marketing systems to consistently bring in inquiries. You should have two types of marketing systems: systems for “list building” of new prospects and systems for relationship building/nurturing of existing prospects and clients in your list. I believe a lack of list building systems is the greatest blind spot for most travel business owners. In your planning for the rest of the year, be very methodical about establishing marketing systems to address each one of these efforts: list-building and relationship nurturing.
5 – Adopt a mindset for success. Without a doubt, the most critical step in your success journey will be re-wiring your mindset for abundance and entrepreneurship. This is because most of us come pre-wired with a scarcity and employee mindset; two very different things. As an entrepreneur who expects success and abundance to show up, you will be required to step outside your comfort zone regularly. As human beings we crave comfort, so stepping outside of that feels foreign, unnatural, and undesirable. But it’s required because all your hopes and dreams lie outside your comfort zone.
We know that there is great potential in the travel business. Putting a plan in place can be the difference between cultivating your possibilities and ending the year empty handed.
Meredith Hill, ex-President of Hills of Africa Travel, founded the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) to empower frustrated and struggling travel consultants by helping them to connect with their passion again, attract ideal clients, and build a business that makes positive difference in people’s lives. Visit GIFTE at www.travelbusinessu.com