The End of the Year Is a Perfect Time to Clean Up Your Travel Shop | TravelResearchOnline

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The End of the Year Is a Perfect Time to Clean Up Your Travel Shop

Happy New Year!  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we barely got out of Halloween and aren’t even into Thanksgiving yet; but we will be saying that before you know it as we move from 2021 into 2022.  I am going out on a limb here and will suggest that right about now, business is slow—COVID or not. Kids are back in school, and people are beginning to stress about the holidays. Who has time to think about planning a vacation?  It’s the nature of this beast we call the travel industry. But after a horrible 2020, and a mediocre 2021, 2022 is beginning to look up. Don’t waste this time! Clean up!

Now is the time to get your travel house in order. And don’t forget the marketing and financial houses too. How do you expect to make money if you don’t have a plan? Is there a drawer full of junk that needs to go? Do you still have that Tauck Europe brochure from 2004 just because you never know when you might need it? Take advantage of some of the slower times to work on physically cleaning up and tidying up your agency’s marketing and financial plans. Evaluate your preferred suppliers and adjust them as needed. Figure out where you will put your advertising money. Find the ever-elusive co-op funds. You get the gist. And when you are cleaning, don’t forget to toss some of those clients as well.

WHAT??? Yes. Toss some of them away. It is hard. But necessary.  Admit it, we all have clients that are a pain in the butt, the ones that always kick tires but never buy. They are simply too needy, or just are not the type of client you want. So, why not kick them to the curb and start working with clients you like?  I am not suggesting a massive purge because their status can change from time to time, but I am suggesting that you take a long hard look at your existing database and see where you can trim. Get rid of the unprofitable ones. Why spend 4 hours of time for a $25 fee for an airline ticket. That’s $6.25 per hour!

The Bad

What’s a bad client? It’s different for all of us, but for me, they are the ones that can never commit in a reasonable time. The ones that will require ridiculous amounts of handholding throughout a transaction. The ones that don’t respect your time and call demanding answers, yet never bother to return YOUR call.  I use ClientBase and I have those clients tagged as “MOID”—Maybe, Only If Desperate. If I am slow. If I am way under my sales projections, or if I am close to a supplier incentive–maybe. And to be honest, my desperation is a moving target!

The Unprofitable

Do you like to lose money? I don’t. And I am not in business to lose money! Take some time and calculate the true cost of a booking. Be sure to take into account the sales process and the follow-up after the sale. I bet you find that the $75 commission check from the “cheap of the week supplier” will have cost you more than that!  Look at your clients and see which ones are unprofitable. Sure, some profitable ones will do a loser here and there, I am not talking about them. Look for the ones where you consistently spend hours and hours to determine a destination only to book the cheapest thing you can find because the client is on a tight budget.  Get rid of them; or at least tag them in your database with a “¢” sign instead of a “$$$”–at least that way you won’t be surprised when you are working for peanuts—or less!

Now I do believe that ALL clients have some value. But if their value has diminished to the point of losing money, something needs to change.

To be successful, you cannot be a generalist any longer. You need to find your niche and specialty and target your audience. But the secret sauce in all this is to continually re-target and re-target that audience.

So after you are done finalizing that marketing plan, tidying up the financial plan, and tossing out that 2004 Tauck brochure, think about pruning your clients—just a little!

 

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