When travel comes roaring back. You had better be prepared. While no one is beating down my doors right now; if experience is any teacher, travel will take off once this pandemic is in our rear-view mirror. You can be sure your competitors will be ready. But will you? Here’s what you can do to make sure you have a piece of that pie when it is served again!
Look hard and pick your business apart
Do you know what makes up your business? Have you ever really taken a deep dive and analyzed what makes money for you? What breaks even for you? What loses money for you? Do you have the right mix? Now is a perfect time to learn what all those back-office reports are about. I bet you will be surprised.
Here are three steps I take to make sure I am on track.
- Do you know what sells the most?Look at your travel types. Do you do 90% FIT tours and 5% cruise? Maybe it makes sense to focus that extra 5% on FITs. You don’t want to necessarily drop anything; but you might. This is a good overview of what you sell. And I will make the argument that you are better at selling the products you sell more of than those you sell less of. And a better sales job will result in more satisfied clients in the end.
- Scour your vendors.Sometimes I feel like beating a dead horse, but really pick your true preferred vendors. Run those reports and see who is paying you the most. Why are you working with them? More importantly, why are you working with the ones that pay you less? Commit to your vendors, and ask them for a commitment as well. Make the relationship a true partnership.
- Watch trends.I know it is tough right now to identify any trends beyond the trips from the kitchen to the couch; but keep your eyes open. What areas are currently open and accepting visitors from the United States? What destinations (or products) are investing for when demand returns? What are surveys saying about where people want to travel? More importantly, HOW they want to travel? Will mass market cruises be popular with 3,000 people on board? Or will people want to downsize to a boutique cruise line or a river cruise? Will the giant Hiltons and Hyatts of the world be popular? Or will people be looking for a smaller more intimate experience?
To lend an example of my three-step process. A while back I had two groups traveling. One was a $600pp long weekend at a dude ranch in New York (drive market) and another was a short $750pp cruise (also drive market). So, in the end after analyzing it all, I discovered that I sold more dude ranch type trips and shifted my focus there. I found out that I made more money on a $600 weekend than a did a 5-night cruise and shifted my cruise business to longer trips. Take a look at your business, and your business mix, from many angles. You will see something you did not expect.
I have found that the secret is to not make huge sweeping changes, but to break down your business into smaller pieces and chew on them. Put the smaller pieces together to finish the larger puzzle. Pull your business apart. Make some time to do it a little bit each week—you’ll be surprised.
And a post-script…. Remember, this pandemic will be with us for a while despite a vaccine. And a vaccine may be able to put COVID-19 in check; but what about COVID-23 or COVID-99? I have no idea of knowing when, but I do know that we will be crippled by another pandemic at some point. The secret is to be prepared!