This is such a common question, especially from new-to-the-industry agents.  I mean, surely my cousins should have booked that 3-day Bahamas cruise with me now that I have a travel business, right?  Not necessarily!!!

~ First of all, are they truly your “ideal client”?  Do they match the avatar you have designed to focus your marketing on?  Just because they are “low hanging fruit” and easily accessible to you, they are not necessarily your target market.  Maybe you specialize in Adventure Family travel and you see those darn cousins partying it up on a 3-day booze cruise….is that the kind of adventure you want to book?  Probably not.  So, bless and release with no hard feelings.

~Be sure that you have communicated with your friends and family that you have started a travel business but be super CLEAR with them about who you want to serve.  We recommend sending out a “warm letter” to everyone you know as one of your first marketing tasks.  State very clearly what both the message is, and the ideal client is for your travel company and ask them to keep you in mind for referrals to any of their friends or acquaintances that might be a great fit.

~Remember it’s okay to turn down the business from family & friends if it doesn’t seem like something that will benefit you.  If you are brand new and your Aunt Susan offers you a chance to book her Alaska cruise tour for next summer, sure you can help her.  It’s great experience for you, you can add value to the trip for your Aunt and the commission will be decent.  But, if your Uncle Sam needs a flight to Little Rock and 3 nights in the Best Western on the corner near your grandma, it’s fine to refer him to Travelocity or Expedia.

Regardless, don’t get all steamed up when your friends, family or church congregation members scoot off on vacation without you.  Wish them well, tell them how glad you are that they are actually using those vacation days to get out and travel, gently remind them about your business and ask them for referrals if they know anyone who would be a great fit for you.  Family and close friends can be challenging as clients anyway, as they sometimes expect you to find them a better than public “deal” or even negotiate on your commission or fees.  As Meredith Hill teaches, sometimes “rejection is God’s protection” ….so love those relatives for being your family and release any expectations you might have.  That leaves room in your client base for those perfect ideal clients to come rolling in!!!

By Lisa Fletcher