Last week I listed 10 tasks/items/points/thoughts I felt were needed to survive and thrive in 2018 and beyond. By point 10, I was running up against a word-maximum and had to stop. For those that know me, it is nearly impossible to get me to stop talking….and I guess it is the same for writing. So, here is my continuation (I promise not as long) from last week of some skills I think you need to master!
- Safety Net=Rate Net
We already talked about specializing. You need to make sure your trips are unique for many reasons, one of which is to prevent shopping your prices. And to help you do that, whenever possible, see if a supplier will offer you a net rate. Sure the commission is easy (and beneficial to the supplier) but there is more flexibility and dollars in a net rate and some value add. I regularly do a sub $1000 weekend for a parent and child. Using net rates, I earn just under $300 per sale. It’s a helluva lot better than 10%.
- Just Say No to the Travel Agent
Ditch the name. It is not what you do. You are a counselor. You are a consultant. You are an advisor. Change up your title and make sure you work on building those relationships. When someone has a travel question, they need to go to you; not because you are a travel agent, but because they TRUST your ADVICE.
- Does Your Website Suck?
Face it. People find us on the Internet and a great website is essential. If you are using a “travel template” site, so are thousands of others. What is there to differentiate you? Make sure your site has a look that reflects you. Practically speaking, make sure it is easily understood and navigable. Ask friends and family to critique it. What seems second nature for you may confound others. I prefer WordPress but I am hearing great things about Squarespace too. Both of them allow you to customize it as needed. Not sure how to do it? Because it is so simple, gone are the days of coders charging through the roof. For less than $500, you can hire someone to make it sing! But don’t actually do that—no lone likes sites that have hokie music that auto-plays. Goes for video too!
- Get Efficient
This one is simple. Time is money. Find out how to lessen your time and you can make more money. Examine your work flows and the processes you use and see how you can improve them. I have found IFTTT is a great tool for automating computer tasks.
- Don’t Forget the Fees
Fees. Fees. Fees. We’ve heard it consistently for nearly 30 years. Just do it! You pay your accountant, right? Your attorney earns a fee, right? You are a professional and deserve it. Now, there may be instances where it makes sense to waive it—that’s your call.
- Ramp Up Your Social Engagements
Don’t use social media to sell. People do not want to be sold to. Use it to boost your reputation. To have some fun. To give your clients and prospects a peek behind the curtain of a travel practice. Encourage (or incentivize) clients to leave reviews of their trips—maybe a monthly $25 gift card giveaway. Have your clients post their best vacation photos and the one with the most likes (votes) will win a prize. This stuff is dirt cheap and very effective. Facebook just added a new feature to identify your top fans (and they can get badges too). Might be a great way to ramp up the engagement.
- Improve Your Writing
We can all stand to improve. I know I can. If your clients are reading your Facebook posts, tweets, email, formal letter, or website they are judging you. Typos matter. Good grammar matters. And if you are not sure of the difference between “your” and “you’re,” go here! Disclaimer: “affect” and “effect” give me trouble—I usually opt for impact.
- Remember the First Impression
You get one chance to make a good first impression. Spoken voice, appearance, email response, Facebook comment, tweet—they all matter. Need some tips? Read some of Mike Marchev’s stuff. One of the best tips he offered me close to 20 years ago was to stand up when on the phone (it changes your diaphragm) and smile when talking on the phone because it translates!
- Say No To Deals
This goes with my theme, but how many travel websites can you visit that promote deals. $299 Bahamian weekend! Limited Space. These deals work well for the supplier, but not for you. They are typically reduced commissions and higher hassle because of the inevitable fine print! Sell yourself. Sell your expertise. Understand that people came to you for what you know and what you can do. If they want deals, there is Priceline.com.
- Be On Your Toes
If nothing else, the travel industry is in a constant state of flux and change! In a heartbeat, we can see commissions disappear (for the newbies in the group—we did). All sorts of outside influences impact (see I couldn’t decide on effect or affect) our industry along with the internal ones! Be on your toes and be ready to adapt and embrace the inevitable change that is coming!
And there! With 68 or so words to spare, I offer my final ten tips for surviving in 2018 and beyond. Thoughts? Comments? Additions? You know where the “leave comment” button is!