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ATME 2010 Travel Marketing Conference
ATME 2010 Travel Marketing Conference

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In This Section >> Know-How | Meetings Mean Business | Maximizing Brand Capital | The Power of Word of Mouth | One Size Does Not Fit All | The New Normal | Marketing In These Challenging Times | The Trust Factor | Tips for Travel Agents | Tourism PR, Post 9-11 | The IBrand | Annual Brand “Tune-Up” | I-Brand Tune-up 2006 |

Tips for Travel Agents

Ten Ways Travel Agencies Can Increase Their Business During These Challenging Times

By Gary Sain

#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 communications.

#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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