Surviving in the travel industry can be hard under the best of times. We always need to be on our feet. And as recent indicators show, we may be headed into another recession in the coming months, so you better be prepared to weather the storm. Here are 20 tips (split into two articles) to help you. Of course, I am always looking for your suggestions, so please leave a comment, thought, or idea!
Pick a few destinations or activities or styles of travel and resolve to own them Be better than the competitors. With the technology and information available today, our clients are indeed “travel agents” when it comes to the basics. When they look for help, they’re seeking a true specialist—be that specialist.
Anyone can build a website. With the right tech, anyone can build a booking engine and deliver a travel package. Let them! You be different and focus on highly personal service. From the very first interaction ,make your client understand they are not dealing with the norm. Unless you are Norm from Cheers, and then that’s ok. Everyone loves Norm.
3. Develop a catalog of unique experiences and VIP access
Travel today is about the experience. If you are part of a franchise or a host, use their tools for access to experiences. Make connections and use the concierge of the hotel to make sure your guest is having the experience that will wow them.
4. Be complex
Focus on the complex. Any schmoe (or is it schmo?) can book a flight from Baltimore to Orlando. Let them. But when it comes to a more complicated itinerary, step in. This is where you can shine and this is where you begin to earn money.
5. Go upscale
There are two types of travelers. Those with more money than time and those with more time than money. Go after the first! If time is a precious commodity to someone the value of an agent will be much more apparent. Why waste time and effort on someone that just spent the night and found a $35 savings on a trip by routing them through Mars?
6. Ditch commissions if you can
Always see if a supplier will give you a net rate. Why? Well, if you are adding value to the package, you can be compensated for that work. A net rate will always help you understand your costs a lot better. It will improve your cash flow because you are “paid” at the time of the sale. Say goodbye to waiting six to eight weeks after travel to get paid.
7. Constantly check yourself
The market’s constantly changing—that’s about the only sure thing in this crazy business. Be sure to make sure you are up to speed on the latest and greatest from all of your suppliers. Shop your competitors (near and far) to make sure your pricing is in line. You may be leaving money on the table, or you may find out why your business has dropped off.
8. Master your pitch
We’ve talked about the elevator pitch in the past. Have you perfected it? This is critical. Critical. Critical! (Because they say you need to hear things three times before they stick) When someone asks “what do you do?” or “tell me about your business,” you need to be on point and ready to define yourself and what sets you apart. If you can’t do that, you may as well just hang it up.
9. Stop selling. Start advising.
We are consultants. People value a trusted consultant over the aggressive salesman every time. I had an insurance broker who was an advisor and she steered me well. She lost my business when her company started pushing investments with them. I received many aggressive calls about investing even after telling them I had my own investment counselor. They lost my insurance business too. No one likes a pushy car salesman. Don’t be one!
10. Develop your brand and make it a trusted one
Getting your name out there with your own marketing material is pretty easy. Getting it out there in other platforms may not be so easy. Make friends with your local newspaper, radio station or television station. Get write-ups or segments. Become the trusted source! Join your local Chamber or business association. Solicit honest reviews from your clients and publish them on your website. Despite my personal hesitation* use LinkedIn to publish information articles (not sales) and solicit comments on those articles.
OK there are ten actionable areas to help move your agency forward. Next week, I have ten more! Do you have any suggestions? Leave a comment!