This week marks two full years since I launched The Wealthy Travel Agent. Thanks to all of you who have helped make it a success. What started out as a dream to pursue my passion helping others achieve the level of success they desired has become a thriving company – one that looks nothing like I had originally envisioned. Everything, from my services to the website, have been a work in progress.
I had a dream, I had the passion, but the big question was, could I leverage my skills, knowledge and expertise into a business that would help me reach my personal goals?
I had been told by more than one meeting planner that I am a pretty good speaker, and should consider doing it full time. This is something I have always enjoyed, so I did my due diligence and many of these same planners said they would hire me.
Now that I had prospective clients, I needed to determine if I could monetize my speaking abilities enough to support my goals. I had what some might consider an aggressive revenue target. So I asked several industry speakers, all of whom I had hired at some point, if it was a realistic number. To a person they said it would be a very difficult number to reach.
At Windstar, my product webinars averaged 300-400 people. This is a good attendance for any event, but for a small cruise line like ours, it was outstanding. I didn’t simply teach the Windstar product, that would only draw 100 people. It’s when I shared business and sales skills based on my experience as an agency owner, that could be used immediately to make more money selling Windstar, that the numbers grew. It was a formula that worked.
I had seen the need, the hunger from travel professionals for real, actionable knowledge and advice. I would be teaching what meeting planners call “hard skills”.
In March 2015, I took the plunge back into the world of entrepreneurship. As many of you have discovered- starting a business is easy. Growing a business is a very different story.
I began making calls to the same meeting planners who supported my move, only to discover most of them had already settled their speaker line up for the rest of the year. It was about this time I had what is described in the book The Radical Leap as an “OSM” or an “Oh S**t Moment!” Suddenly I had no income prospects for the foreseeable future. Thoughts ran through my mind from, “Oh crap, my wife is going to kill me.” to “What had I gotten myself into?” I needed to rethink my strategy and fast.
I often worked with professional coaches and mentors over the years to grow my skills and provide candid feedback from a different perspective. I find this investment in myself to be of tremendous value, and would not have achieved the things I have throughout my career without them.
I reached out to Mike Marchev, a long-time industry speaker and all-around good guy for some advice. He said do two things, pick a niche and write a book. As we talked, the niche I had spent most of my career serving as an agent and supplier was the affluent market. Also, there was no one in the coaching arena who even remotely “owned” this niche. Thus, The Wealthy Travel Agent was born. But I still had the issue of how to pay the bills and keep my wife happy.
This is where it gets fun! I had a wealth of knowledge and experience – especially about finding new affluent prospects, but no venue from which to share. I had purchased several online educational programs about building a speaking business that I found to be very useful. Suddenly the light came on: Why couldn’t I create an online program of my own to educate travel agents? Virtually every travel professional I have ever met would like to sell to affluent travelers – they just don’t know how, but I can teach them! I spent the next four months building my flagship course, Secrets of Selling to the Affluent Traveler. The end result is a business plan for developing this segment of your business. Launched in August 2015, It has always been priced so the investment can easily be recouped with just a single sale.
Fast forward two years. My business is very different that the one I had envisioned. Bonnie Lee, owner of the host agency Travel Quest, attended my first sales webinar and immediately hired me for my first paid speaking gig at their annual meeting. Eventually more opportunities have come my way.
Hundreds of travel professionals have participated in the Selling to the Affluent Traveler online program and I work one-on-one coaching a limited number of travel professionals each month serious about growing their sales.
Business owners have sought my counsel on positioning their agencies for accelerated growth. Realizing there is much more demand for this than I could ever provide one on one, I created the Sales Acceleration System, an online coaching program to launch this fall.
I don’t share all of this to brag, but as a fellow business owner who had to adapt to the circumstances to survive. It’s kind of funny, I started out in the business to become a professional speaker. I love doing it, but in reality, it is one of the smaller pieces of what I do.
My goal has never been to be the biggest or best known coach in the industry. It is simply to make a real difference in the lives of my clients, travel professionals like you.
Which brings me to the point of this self-serving anniversary retrospective.
- There are many things beyond your control, so stay focused on those you can.
- You will fail, so be prepared to make your own opportunities. Don’t wait for them to come to you – they won’t.
- If you are selling the same price driven products as everyone else, find a niche and become known for it.
- There are many moving parts to any business, so don’t try to go at it alone. No one ever gets ahead without the help of others. Hire a coach or find a mentor who will keep you grounded and focused on what’s important. You won’t regret it.
By the way, I did write that book. I actually started it over 10 years ago, and Marchev inspired me to finish the drill. Since its release in January, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales has become an industry specific bestseller and is available worldwide on Amazon.com.
Dan Chappelle specializes in helping sales professionals achieve their full potential by thinking BIGGER, working SMARTER, and producing real RESULTS.
Dan Chappelle is a professional sales coach, business advisor, author, and speaker. His specialty is Sales Acceleration.
His training and consulting firm helps develop sales oriented business leaders. In addition to working with individual salespeople and entrepreneurs, his corporate clients include AAA, Cruise Planners, Ensemble Travel Group, and Travel Leaders Group. His best-selling book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on Amazon.com. For information on Dan’s Sales Acceleration programs, visit: www.DanChappelle.com