Written By: Jackie Friedman, President – Nexion Travel Group
Hello, travel friends! I hope you’ve taken some time during these past few months to take a deep dive into working on your business. Last month I touched on reassessing your business operations. As we look to reimagine our businesses and move in a new direction, I wanted to conclude this two-part series by sharing pointers on reassessing partnerships and what you sell.
Reassessing What You Sell and Who You Sell To
As you recharge and realign your business, take some time to look at what you sell and who you are selling to. Are you focusing on quality clients and not quantity? And more specifically, do your clients value your professional services and reward you with referrals? Continue to nurture those connections with your most valued clients versus spending your valuable time servicing price-hungry consumers who have no loyalty to you. Your top-tier clients are the ones who bring you the best results in terms of revenue, productivity, leads and long-term relationships.
Flexibility also needs to be the name of the game. Look at your existing customer base and ask yourself, “Are these clients likely to book travel in the near future?” When looking at who your customers are, which ones are ready to go as soon as they can? Which ones are waiting until a vaccine is available? Which customers are in between and are ready to book travel now for 2021 or future dates?
If you’re not sure, the best way is to ask them and talk with them about their desires and concerns. Their personal views may be very different from you own, so it’s important to have these conversations and let them know you’re ok with whatever stage they are in.
After reassessing your database and determining if your current clienteles’ travel preferences have shifted, there may be a new demographic or psychographic you want to go after that will bring in additional business. Find those different customer segments who are ready to book travel now or soon. A lot of travel advisors are having success booking groups, as their clients have the need to connect, so putting together small groups may be one appealing option.
Hand in hand if you look at expanding or shifting your target customer, you may need to shift the products you sell to them. For example, what trends are you seeing, and do you have the product knowledge to serve that need? If more people are requesting outdoor escapes in more rural areas, fun road trips and exclusive villas and beach houses, are you shifting your product knowledge to meet the demand and show your value as a travel professional?
Having flexibility for the people who want to travel now is key, which means staying on top of travel restrictions and available experiences at your clients’ destination. If you are lacking on product knowledge, take advantage of the destination training available. At Nexion Travel Group, for example, we’ve been partnering with our sister companies to offer our advisors an extended amount of free virtual training on destinations across North America and the globe, with up-to-date information and boots-on-the-ground perspective on what’s happening today.
In addition to the what and who of selling, now is an important time to reassess partnerships you have. By doing so, you may discover new ways to connect with your customers and open your eyes to new ways of doing business.
Do your partnerships include an affiliation with a host agency and/or consortium and the fact that you don’t have to go it alone? Are you taking advantage of your partnership and resources with industry organizations, including your local ASTA chapter? What partnerships do you want to build upon to access programs and resources that you may not already have and that will enable you to stay connected?
Partnering with networks and complementary businesses within your community is another way to stay connected, show your value as a travel professional and bring in new business. Consider sitting down and identifying who can help you grow your business, such as other trades you can align with. Having a network of small business owners to promote each other could be a win-win for all. (Examples: partnering with a yoga instructor to promote wellness travel and an upcoming group or working with a local wine shop owner to promote your wine-focused river cruise or 2021 vineyards trip you are planning.)
Another idea is to identify a couple of supplier representatives you work with and meet virtually on your marketing plan, remembering that you are being selective of who you want to sell to and what you want to sell. When you reach out to these reps, understand that their schedules will be busy. “I would love to get together when you have a little time to put a plan together,” is a positive approach. Consider holding a virtual consumer night, and work with your supplier BDM on the details.
Personal partnerships are also important. Are there people you can tap into that make up a personal advisory board – friends, family, coaches, other advisors or even folks in other industries who are successful? Get a small group together to help you re-invent your business and share best practices and success strategies. A set of fresh eyes can be helpful, plus planning for things in the future gets everyone excited! During your get togethers (virtual or in person), it’s ok to spend some time venting, but be careful not to let them turn into gripe sessions. A balance of getting frustrations out and then focusing on what’s working and taking the best of what others are doing will certainly be more productive.
Reassessing your sales strategy and partnerships is part of the bigger picture of adapting to meet the shifting demands of the travel industry. It’s the perfect time for reflection – to reassess your career, gain a new focus on your future and plot a strategic course to achieve your best success. Until next time, cheers to recharging!