When you become a travel agent you will be both a travel agent AND a business owner. You will wear many hats! Let’s see, there’s marketing manager, client services manager, book keeper, errand runner, sales person, and the list goes on.
- How do you keep it all straight?
- How do you make sure you deliver consistently on your promise of great service?
- How do you ensure you are marketing effectively (and not just conducting “shot gun” marketing techniques)?
- How do you input, track and collect all of your commissions?
- How do you ensure a consistent tracking of your financial goals?
You are only one person after all.
I have a solution for you. It’s called “Phasing.” This is one of the greatest techniques in being a smart business leader that I learned from my business partner and Gifted Travel Network’s COO, Jennifer Cochrane. In other words, when you have a big, ongoing project, break it down into phases.
One ongoing project that every person who becomes a travel agent should be breaking down into phases is the selling cycle. Breaking down the travel selling cycle will help you immensely in ensuring you dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. It will also illuminate blind spots in your business. Last, understanding these 4 cycles will help you tremendously when you are at the point of delegating some of your tasks, even if it is for just a few hours a week.
So what are the 4 Phases to the Travel Selling Cycle? Here they are:
Phase 1 – Marketing to new prospects.
How are you going to get your first client? You have to put yourself out there! And you have to put yourself out there consistently in front of the right people with a magnetic, compelling message. Another key piece to this phase of the travel selling cycle is that you must always be “building your list.” In other words, you must always be partaking in marketing activities that capture names and contact details of potential clients. List building is a HUGE blind spot for entrepreneurs selling travel. But great list building systems can be the make or break of a business.
Phase 2 – Begins when a prospect reaches out to you with an inquiry and ends when you take deposit on a future vacation.
This phase is the selling phase. It’s when you qualify your potential clients, collect a service fee, research itinerary options, put together quotes and “close the sale.” This is the phase in which most sellers of travel feel confident and comfortable. If you are considering delegating tasks to an assistant, this is typically NOT the phase you should delegate.
Phase 3 – From deposit to end of travel.
This is the phase where travel experts have the most opportunity to shine. Why? Because it’s where you can over deliver on your service and demonstrate tremendous value. Develop an ongoing dialogue with your client from the moment you take deposit so they understand you haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. Communicate with them to offer and provide helpful assistance with filling in the skeleton of their itinerary and valuable advice on preparing them for their travel. And don’t forget to surprise them with some extra special touches. In opposition to Phase 2, this is the phase I usually recommend you look to first for delegating.
Phase 4 – From return of travel to next inquiry.
This is the relationship building phase. Once in this phase, your client is a client and should be contacted on a regular basis to develop and nurture your relationship. Adding your client to your consortia marketing plan doesn’t complete this phase. Probably the easiest and most effective way to accomplish this phase is by sending a weekly, electronic newsletter.
Your Assignment: Now that you see the travel selling cycle broken down into 4 phases, you can group your tasks and responsibilities and more easily calendar them, stay focused and ensure they are all completed. It also helps to see where there are gaps in your daily systems. Did you find a blindspot? If so, make it a priority to fill in your blindspot.
Want more? Check out Gifted Travel Network’s Travel MBA Program designed to help you become a successful, thriving travel agency owner in 12 short months, www.getyourtravelmba.com