White Sand Travel — trading frowns for smiles | TravelResearchOnline

White Sand Travel — trading frowns for smiles

There are some days I get out of bed and I get an email or a travel request and I scream in delight and think this is the most exciting and sexy industry in the world. And, then there are those days where a long face seems to be a part of my uniform and I feel utterly frustrated and think, why am I doing this. Yikes! So what does one of those “long face” days look like?

One of the things I often hear from coaches and mentors is “don’t stay in your office, get out and network.” Well, I have found that some of these networking efforts are pretty much a social event that doesn’t yield much in terms of sales but another opportunity to “get out,” talk, and hand out business cards. There is no shortage of events to attend, but when you think of time and cost, is it really worth your time? Which events should you attend or not attend? And by the way, what about events that you can plan yourself and invite others to so you can promote your own business? I like that idea a lot.

Two of the agents in our office have the opportunity to go on a Sandals FAM to St Lucia and Barbados… woohoo! We had some discussion with our BDM and we decided that a Sandals Night right after the FAM would give us some momentum to share the exciting news with our current and potential clients. We were super pumped to be able to host this event and get a good gathering so we can share news about us and Sandals resorts, and hopefully get some bookings as a result. This can’t be that hard, right? We know our theme, budget, objective, promotion strategy, etc., and thought we had most of the battle solved. Wrong, so wrong – that is a day for the long face, a very long face etched in frustration.

In Atlanta you just think there are tons of venues to host this event right? While that is true, there are tons of venues, oh my God what a research intensive effort that turned out to be! It reminds me of how my clients feel when they come to me in frustration after trying to determine how to plan the ideal romantic getaway or honeymoon. There is mountain of information, but sifting through the mountain to get the ideal option is like a full time job and can leave you feeling stressed and frustrated. I can definitely relate.

What I have discovered is that for me to find that ideal option, I have to apply many filters just like I do for the couples I work with:

  • Location – where in Atlanta would be ideal for the event? What area would be considered central to our target audience?
  • What themed restaurants will fit our needs?
  • Do they have a private dining area? How many people can the private space accommodate?
  • Is there parking at the location? Is there a cost?
  • Menu – what choices are on the Events Menu? Will that fit into our theme?
  • Is there any food and beverage minimum? A cost for the room as well?

After so much time and effort that I spent in research, it was clear to me that we were not just dealing with the task of finding a venue but coping with the stress and frustration that accompanied this research. We found plenty of places that would be suitable – they met the criteria above but came with a caveat—they were way too expensive. Who can afford $4,000.00 for an event for 60 guests for a Sandals Night? Are you kidding me? The least expensive option was teetering around $1,800.00, which is still at least $1,000.00 over the budget we have in mind. All we want to do is have light hors d’oeuvres, a signature cocktail, and share a presentation with our guests. Why is that so hard?

Well, after weeks of frustration, we are back to the drawing board. Maybe a restaurant is not the best option. What about an event space? But, not so fast. We have just traded the food and beverage minimum for the cost of the event space. Then you consider that all you have is the actual space – you still need food and beverage and likely decorating. Oh, and did I mention that we also have to consider the amount of effort to set up and breakdown the space to make it attractive to the attendees? There is so much detail into planning a small event for 60 people to share a message, and coupled with the thought that you could invest all this effort and guests don’t show up or you don’t get a single sale from it… you begin to wonder if it is all worth it.

As I look back over the situation, I think the plans for the next event have to be more inclusive of other factors that hopefully will reduce the frustration and provide better options:

  • Is this a totally free event for the guests? If not, how much is the registration/entrance fee?
  • What is the message that will entice the audience to attend?
  • Are there benefits to a partnership/sponsorship that would spread the cost out among more than one vendor as well as provide diversity on the agenda for the evening?
  • Just as many brides find out, having a wedding on a Saturday night comes with a premium cost, and so did we. Maybe our next event may fit better into a brunch time frame on Saturday or Sunday so we can slash the cost?

Operating a successful business hinges on crucial decisions that can make a huge impression to our audience. We constantly have to think of ways to promote, to attract, to educate, and convert lookers into bookers. Often times we have only one opportunity to make that lasting impression and even tiny details can mean significant messages to the audience. As I continue to face the challenge of planning quarterly events to educate and enlighten my target audience about White Sand Travel, the effort gets easier and the frowns and long faces become fewer and fewer. We hope to create that same experience for our clients where planning romantic adventures get easier and easier. Have you felt my pain? Leave a comment!

Judith White is the owner at White Sand Travel in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The full service agency specializes in destination weddings, honeymoon and romance travel planning for busy couples that want an incredible vacation experience without the stress of planning it. You can find Judith online at whitesandtravel.net

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