#1 Perfect opportunity to "mine" your data base, in
addition to, updating your client information. With the many travel offers
currently available, match relevant offers with your clients and COMMUNICATE,
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. This is a critical time to step up the meter on
communication to your database, as well as, other prospects. By the way, how
many email addresses do you have? Now is the time to update your client information
so you can better serve your clients one to one.
#2 Increase your sales training and prospecting skills. The
phones may not ring as much in the near future as in the past. Take this time
to fine tune your sales skills so you can be better prepared for tougher sales
in the weeks ahead. Also, if you are not a CTC, CTA, MCC or ACC: now is the
time to do so.
#3 Be in the know: the more you can be perceived as the travel
knowledge/safety expert, the more your clients will rely on you for your guidance
and counsel. Use the Internet, trade associations, news, consortium membership,
peers, etc. to fully gain knowledge, not just information, which your clients
desperately need, thereby building credibility.
#4 If you are not a member of a travel consortium - now is the
time to join. The technology enhancements, regional/national marketing opportunities,
preferred travel supplier overrides, and just more clout in the local marketplace
is more critical now than ever before. Support your preferred travel partners:
they are the ones who are offering you the higher commissions, training and
additional marketing support.
#5 Do you have a working marketing plan? If not, please develop
one. You can't get to where you want to go without a road map. The marketing
plan will force you to take an aggressive sales posture and will provide you
with the strategies and tactics to reach your goals, whatever they may be.
The key is to have them. It will also establish action plans for everyone.
However, if you don't inspect what you expect, the plan is meaningless. A
standard easy to use marketing plan format is attached.
#6 Have the attitude that today is the first day of your business:
and the rest of your life. Go back to the basics of growing your business
as you once did. Sometimes when times are good, we forget about all the grunt
work we had to do to build a client roster. You still have clients, however,
if they are not currently traveling, you need to supplement with new clients.
Remember, only 30% of all leisure travelers use a travel agency: there are
many new customers out there.
#7 Identify more pied pipers who have the ability to bring in
new business. Think of the number of airline employees who have been recently
laid off. What a wonderful opportunity to hire them as outside agents who
can bring in new customers. They will also be grateful to stay connected to
the travel industry. Think of the other layoffs as well: great source of talent,
and we need them now!
#8 Develop more customized client promotions: air/car/cruise/hotel/theme
park/golf/spa/etc. Take the stress and worry out of the pre-planning experience
for your clients. And if they absolutely don't want to travel by air for the
present time, package other means of transportation. Also, think of new commission
opportunities: whether its vacation home rentals or selling add on insurance,
travel intelligence, and services offering convenience. AND, with the incredible
pricing opportunities available for your clients, there is no better motivation
than NOW to promote travel.
#9 Be creative and think of promotions, alliances, partnerships,
etc. which you could develop with local merchants, local colleges and universities,
department stores, restaurants, recreational entities, local associations
and clubs, fundraisers, community associations, local special events, etc.
This list is endless in identifying new ways of attracting business. Also ASTA has a complete set of ad slicks which can be downloaded from their website
HYPERLINK "http://www.astanet.com" www.astanet.com for your marketing
#10 Use PR as a tool to get the positive word out about travel.
I can't think of a more powerful, cost effective means, of getting your name
out there in the local marketplace as the travel expert, especially now. All
you hear about in the media is the travel industry. You have a wonderful opportunity
to create a meaningful story on travel, business or leisure, which not only
your local market will want to read, but also it will be news worthy. The
media is relying on travel experts for advice: you can be one. ASTA also has
sample speeches, PowerPoint presentations, press releases, etc on their website.
The last point is having the will to overcome adversity and
doing whatever it takes to be successful. I know this is easier said than
done. However, we are all in this together: travel agencies, travel suppliers,
travel marketing communication companies (i.e. my firm), travel trade associations,
etc.. all of us! We all need to work together to get our businesses, as close
to being normal as humanly possible. But it starts with each of us, each and
every day, to be proactive and to reach out to our clients/prospective customers
on why they should get back to traveling: AND WHY. If we can't provide a motivation
to them, why should they? We need to be travel preachers spreading the word
of travel. If we don't do it: who will?
Gary C. Sain CTC is
Executive VP/Partner of
Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown.
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