Group travel as a way to improve your travel business income only makes sense – you plan one trip and sell it to multiple people. Easy, right? It’s not quite that easy, but working with groups certainly makes a big financial impact on the bottom line of many agents. Here are a few tips:
Find the Right Partner. For most agents the key to success is finding group leaders (or pied pipers) who have an established following or community. It isn’t about picking a cruise or destination/resort that YOU are interested in. It’s much harder to fill groups when you are the only draw. Many agents do one or two groups a year that are“travel with me”, but it isn’t usually enough to build a business around. When you are looking for a partner you are looking for someone who not only has a following, but is also already communicating with them. If they have a following but aren’t interacting with them, that’s a much harder sell.
Do Your Homework. This is a business transaction and you need to approach it that way. When you have a group leader that is serving as a pied piper you want to make sure you have in writing what you have agreed on. Are they getting any perks? If so, what is your expectation for them? What should they expect of you?
Don’t Do All the Work. The temptation for a lot of agents is to think it is YOUR responsibility to fill the group and make it a success. But if you have the right partner, you don’t have to do all the work. They are in a unique position to bring energy and enthusiasm to the group. They should drive filling the group with your guidance of best practices. This is why it is important to pick pied pipers that are accustomed to interacting with their audience, not just people who have a following without an interaction.
Rely on Partners who Can Help. This last point isn’t the least important. It might actually be the most important. Picking a vendor partner that will help make this trip is a critical step. Really put thought into the right vendor for the trip. It’s not just about the rate for the trip, but how much support are you going to get from the vendor’s rep? Will they host an event or co-op marketing? And a great vendor can make all kinds of things happen for your group that you never imagined! Don’t make the mistake to just pick the provider with the cheapest rate.
Hopefully your host agency has resources for you on how to be successful with groups. Reach out to them and ask for help. Your success benefits them to! And reach out to colleagues who are experts with groups. They can provide you with forms, checklists, and valuable insights that you can’t get until you’ve done this yourself.