PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
INCLUDES A LIST OF SERVICES YOU CAN CHARGE FOR
JULY - AUGUST 2013
TABLE OF CONTENTS – JULY - AUGUST 2013
EDITORIAL 3 Profiting from Service Fees PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES 4 Calculating Your Base Fees 6 Call Them Ancillary and Charge That Fee 7 Fees for ICs 8 Manager… How Much Do You Charge? 9 Is Your Juice Worth The Squeeze? 10 Selling Your Service Via Video 11 Service Fee List 12 The “I Wanna Pick Your Brain” Service Fee PROFIT FROM MEASURING UP 13 The Top 150 Travel Agents SPECIAL PAGE 14 The Conversational Prism by Brian Solis PROFITING THROUGH KLOUT 16 Choose Your Clout or Klout and Sell Like You Mean it PROFITING FROM TECHNOLOGY 17 Creating Maps For Your Tours 18 Create Your Own Engaging Screen Savers 19 The SlideShare Tools 20 Save Your Life Tech Stuff PROFITING FROM KNOWING YOUR WINDOWS TOOLS 21 Using The Sticky App 22 Where Did WordArt Go? SHOPPING AROUND 23 Your Next Inflight Read by Anthony Dalton 24 CTIE Certified Travel Industry Executive 25 Skype With Steve 26 Classifieds
Travel Agency Manager is owned, operated and published by Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. Protected by International and Canadian Copyright Law. Travel Agency Manager can be shared, forwarded, cut and pasted but not sold, resold or in anyway monetized. Using any images or content from Travel Agency Manager must be sourced as follows: “© SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com” . SMP Training Co. 568 Country Club Drive, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada V9K 1G1 Note: Steve Crowhurst and SMP Training Co. is not responsible for outcomes based on how you interpret or use the ideas in Travel Agency Manager or on the SMP Training Co. website. Guest articles are the opinions of the guest writer and not Steve Crowhurst or SMP Training Co. T: 250-738-0064
Steve Crowhurst, CTC TAM Publisher
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
In this issue we explore how you can profit from your fee based services. Some agencies are well into the business of fees and others are still hanging back. Others have stopped charging fees to give themselves a local marketing advantage and then there’s the group who have upped their fees to match their expertise. Want to to go straight fees versus commissions? You can do that too. The essence of the fee based world is that you are worth every cent.
The issue of charging fees for your services and expertise should have been put to bed years ago, but that’s not the case it seems. To charge or not to charge continues to be bandied about day to day and for some agencies the concept of charging money for 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years of knowledge seems way beyond the right thing to do. That of course is way beyond my sense of business as I like to focus on earning what you are worth. None the less, it’s a rut some agencies are stuck in. Charging a fee means you are worth something, or should be. Adding fiftydollars to the tab “just because” will eventually lose you clients. Adding that fee and delivering fantastic information will win you clients who would gladly pay even more if you can give them what they want. The concept of personal service and custom made and FIT and bespoke anything and everything is where charging fees shine through. Once again, you should be a master of your craft and then charging whatever you charge makes sense to everyone. It is commonplace to pay that extra amount to get the best – you do it in your own life and your clients will pay your fees if you can deliver on what you promise.
The question becomes: “Is your lemon worth the squeeze?” Are you true or are you fake? Do you know enough to charge fees? How about your agency team? Are they fully subscribed to maximum knowledge and can they articulate their expertise well enough to garner that fee? If not, you have a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge: your agency will not be generating a fee-based profit center for too much longer if your knowledge is common place. The opportunity: is to train your team to be best, to study what they say they know and take that level of knowledge to the ultimate level. Now, you can charge those magnificent fees and know that what you are about to deliver, no other agency can match you. The fact remains that you must be very, very skilled and be highly knowledgeable about your niche, destinations, chosen line of products and suppliers that you market. You do not want to come across as a scam artist, charging a fee for no service and very little information. Set yourself a training plan and make sure your team is best of best. Then set your fees and don’t be shy about what you can charge. Your clients will pay if you can deliver.
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
CALCULATING YOUR BASE FEES Before you charge a service fee you’ll need to calculate your agency’s base service fee. The across the board base service fee is the amount that you’ll need to charge to ‘cover costs’ and those costs are calculated per booking. From there you drill down to the cost of specific bookings such as a cruise, tour or an FIT. Once you know the overall base amount you can ponder the profit margin you would like to add ‘overall’ and also per specific file or type of travel. To calculate your base fee you’ll need access to the information listed below. Your bookkeeper and/or your accountant can provide this information. If you are fully automated then you’ll know where to click and what to print. The Simple Method This is very simple and only used to give you an idea of what your costs are. The cost we are focussing on is the cost of issuance. In other words, you mash together your rent, salaries, marketing etc., totalling all expenses and then divide that total by the number of actual annual closed bookings/ transactions you will end up with a base figure of $X. This is your breakeven cost. If you profited by your breakeven cost per booking you would pay your way but not profit. Here’s an example: 1. Total Annual Expenses: $325,000 2. Divided by Total Transactions: 750 3. Breakeven Fee: $433 The outcome shown here is $433. This figure represents what you need to generate per transaction to cover your annual expenses. If a transaction / booking pays $250 in commission, you will have a short fall of $183. Another transaction might generate $750 in commission and on that booking you are $317 to the good.
If you were to close 1,500 files per year and your expenses stayed the same then your breakeven cost would be $233 per transaction. Where you generate $250 in commission you would profit by $17 and where you generated $750 in commission you would profit by $517. You can quickly correlate the breakeven costs to the number of bookings you close. Commission Assassins Somewhere in every agency lurks one or more commission assassins. These are simply things, actions and processes that erode earned commission. A commission assassin can be as simple as a customer returning for more information and taking and additional 2-hours of a consultant’s time - the cost of that time is eroded from the commission earned on that client’s file. Charging Fees Charging a fee adds to the profit margin across the board, especially when the commission on a sale does not meet your basic breakeven cost of doing business. The Involved Method So now you have an idea of your basic breakeven and must-generate-income per file. To go deeper you should have your accountant go to work and analyze to the cent what the actual figure might be. After that, you’ll want to work on specifics.
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES The Specific Transaction Fee Calculating a ‘specific’ fee: Determine what percentage of your sales are cruise sales. Take that percentage as a percentage of expenses. Divide that number by the total closed cruise bookings and you’ll have your breakeven cruise sale service fee. Now train your agency team to recognise when the cruise booking is losing money. The cruise sale has dropped in commission as you know. The 2 for 1s, the cheap and nasty promotions… it’s almost an ‘all you can eat’ promotion that a restaurant would use to attract customers. Such is the cruise industry. Even the high end cruise lines are submitting to the low end of the revenue chart. The training element here is to teach your agency team how to close a $75,000 cruise and still add in a transaction fee. When a good customer asks you to book a number of hotels you cannot say no. You can say yes, and charge the assessed fee/s. The Time Factor A fee is often based on the time involved in researching and creating the booking elements of a client’s trip. This type of fee is generally reserved for FIT planning more than it is booking a simple ITC package. For the custom FIT booking you should have a set hourly rate or establish an all-in rate labelled as your Custom Itinerary Service. FIT is not a term a customer would readily understand – so keep it simple. Selling Your Custom FIT Service Rather than promote your tours, you could and should promote your services. It is your services that beg a fee and so if you and your team are experts at creating custom travel for your clients then these are the services you promote and charge for. As you will realize you have to be an expert and that means you do actually know all there is to know about your niche.
The Best Agents List Several consumer travel magazines, Conde Naste for one, publishes an annual Who’s Who of travel agents and write the article based on the agent’s expertise and the fees they charge. One of the top agents, a woman, based in New York charged $600 for the initial consultation. When I mention this in my training sessions I receive comments such as, “Yes well she lives in New York!” “Sure, I can’t see me charging that much in my small town.” Valid comments. The preferable response might have been, “Me too!” “I wonder how she does it?” “How does she attract her clients to pay this amount?” The article describes the knowledge level of the agents listed and their expertise. They have cruised hundreds of times. They have visited their niche destination hundreds of times. They are on speaking terms with those that can add special elements to their tours and custom arrangements. They are well connected where they should be. They are simply at a different level than other travel agents who are struggling to find a reason to charge $25. From Good to Great to Best To go from Good to Great to Best takes training and development. The fact that you know the best café in a small village in Southern France is worth money. It is this knowledge that allows you and your team to charge for your custom vacation planning services. Next question: do you know, what you know? Are you sure? Surprise yourself and write it down in bullet format. You will fill over 100 pages I am sure. What’s your expert fee? How much are you worth now?
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
CALL THEM ANCILLARY AND CHARGE THAT FEE There comes a time for all travel agencies to follow in the footsteps of their suppliers and especially when it comes to profiting from service fees – or ancillary revenue as the airlines like to call it. In 2012 the worldwide revenue generated through airline fees was estimated at $36 billion. No need to be shy about charging agency fees. Follow in the footsteps of your suppliers and you will soon see that a fee is now part of the travel booking process. According to a study by TravelNerd their results showed that airlines had changed & charged more than 50 different fees since January 2012. That $36bn was 11% over the 2011 takings. Read more at this link. You know these fees because you advise your clients about them. As you review and look through the following airline of what airlines charge fees for, think about what you are giving away when you should be charging fees for it. Baggage fees Carry-on bag First checked bag Second checked bag Additional checked bags Overweight checked bag Oversized checked bag Pet in cabin Pet checked with baggage Service fees Ticket change online Ticket change in person / over the phone Seat selection Preferred / premium seats Priority boarding In-flight fees Unaccompanied minors Food and beverages Other (blankets, pillows, headphones, etc.) Okay, what have you got that you can package and sell to generate ancillary revenue? You want blankets? You got ‘em. Pillows with your agency logo emblazoned on them? No problem.
Books, headsets, flash drives… pens and even a smart phone case with your logo – whatever you want to sell for a fee - it’s out there waiting for you and it’s still called Specialty Advertising. You can now order online.
http://www.allstarlogo.com/fleece-blankets Chances are your clients own their own headset and have a laptop or handheld device and do not really need a flash drive – then again, there are some unique flash drives that would be desirable such as this lipstick version - 64 Mb to 128 Gb! WOW! Perhaps an addition to your next Women Only tour of Hong Kong?
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
FEES FOR ICs “Houston we have a problem!” Here’s the challenge – there are so many ICs entering the trade, that the overall level of expertise is going down. Of course everyone wants to join the travel trade, unfortunately many that are entering are just not worth their fees. If you have ICs working for your agency then it’s on your head (and your neck) to make sure each IC is well invested into building their expertise to the level that satisfies a standard fee. It’s your reputation, too. As you know, Independent Contractors, or Home Based Agents or Tethered Agents or Virtual Agents… the list goes on, come in all levels of travel knowledge. Many should not be allowed into the trade and others should be welcomed with open arms. Such is the case for any industry. Nothing new there. The challenge is simply your reputation. Pure and simple – you can lose that reputation very quickly if you do not manage your ICs and what they are charging for their limited knowledge. The best route to IC success is to make sure, before you sell them your IC package, that they have travelled on their own dollar to the countries that you sell. You’ll want your ICs to be self supporting and well versed in the world of travel as a tourist/traveller. Next, establish a learning curve for each IC to be associated with your agency and push them to become certified. That would be a commitment by your ICs to gain their CTC, CTE, MCC, ACC…etc., add the specialist programs that suit your agency’s product line and niche programs, too. Of course this takes time and it will weed out the free trippers versus the ICs who are true travel trade material. Once they have gained the level of knowledge you want and need you can train them in the art of
service fees. Your agency may belong to one of the established host agencies and that would mean that you have access to programs that will train your newly acquired IC. All of which is good. The missing ingredient is the IC’s understanding of the business they are joining. This is where your coaching skills take over and if the IC does not respond to the output level you desire, then it’s out the door. You’ll also want your ICs representing your business in public in the best possible light. This means how they dress and how they go about their business locally. A dress code is a desired aspect of managing an IC team. Business casual can work. Travel casual can work. Well groomed is a must. So now you have a team of well dressed, well educated, well travelled, experienced ICs that can articulate the values of the agency they are associated with and will eventually be well worth their fees. Once again this takes time. It takes management time, your time and it removes you from working on other projects, however if you are going to manage an IC team then you must make sure you follow this onboarding plan. Only then will you be at ease with the fees charged by your associates.
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
MANAGER…HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE?
That’s the question of the hour. How much does a manager charge for when they are engaged with a client? As you know there are combo-managers who manage and sell and then we have agency managers who manage and don’t sell. Whichever mantle you wear, you still need a pricing structure for when you are involved in a booking. You have to be worth more than twenty bucks! I think $50, perhaps $150 – yes? If you are just starting out in management a lower rate might apply. As the manager of the agency you have to be worth at least $95 an hour or more. Now you’re in business and if you can buy into the fact that you have the knowledge your clients need and want – then you move yourself into the realm of ‘management consultant’ versus combo-counsellor.
You’ll want your agency team to also move their mindset to the level of consultant and be as knowledgeable as you about their trade and especially the key products that your agency sells on a day-to-day basis. Anything that sounds like ‘twenty bucks’ is way too low. Everybody knows that when it is that cheap, it’s just, well…cheap - and you get what you pay for. A fee of $75 to $250 sounds about right. Sounds business like. Sounds like you know what you’re talking about. Back to you and your fee. What do you know? What are your years, knowledge and expertise worth? Time to take stock and price yourself INTO the market. You can reserve the highest fee you can handle, and this would be the starting fee and your initial consultation fee. Your fees go up from there.
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
IS YOUR JUICE WORTH THE SQUEEZE? When it comes to paying a fee for something the customer is truly expecting to receive the very best. No mistakes. All correct. Fees in the travel industry come in various amounts and for a variety of services ranging from advice to a second itinerary. The main squeeze that should deliver the juice is the fee paid for advice and planning. How do you measure up do you think? Do you actually offer excellent value for money when it comes to advice and travel planning know-how? Is your agency team so highly trained in the art of delivering this top notch level of travel planning advice that you so desire? Do they have the depth of industry knowledge and first hand travel experience to qualify charging the fees you wish to charge? If your team do not have the level of knowledge and experience to support your fee schedule then it’s time for a training plan to be put in place. Here you’ll need to take a skills and knowledge inventory per member of your agency team and then assess each person’s competency, rated against a model that you deem as best. Here’s the challenge: you cannot afford to have different fees for different individuals. That doesn’t work. You need one established fee and each member of your team is trained to deliver nothing but the best for that fee. Where your service model requires certain things to be said, reviewed, offered, stated or suggested, then these interactions must be role-played to perfection so that the message is always the same. Now your juice is getting squeeze – worthy.
Travellers not fond of travel agents… says a survey by MMGY Global. Seems only 4% of the Americans polled think travel agents offer the best prices, and only 5% think they are the most convenient way to book travel. The perception amongst the travellers surveyed was that online agencies like Expedia and Travelocity do much better; 48% of travelers say they are the cheapest and 45% say they are the most convenient. Surveys are like icebergs – there’s always something deep down not seen and here you never really know what the traveller being surveyed is thinking about when they check the boxes. However, results like these should make you think as to whether or not you measure up at the service end no matter what product or destination you are selling. To those responding to the survey it would appear that the online travel agent serves a juice that is most certainly squeeze-worthy. I wonder how they fare when a client asks for a 25 day FIT to 13 countries? Not sure what the rating would be then. Perhaps travel agents would rise in the calculations. Take a hard look at what you deliver for the fees you charge and make absolutely sure you top up the knowledge of those team members who are not delivering to the level that you promise in your marketing.
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
SELLING YOUR SERVICES VIA VIDEO Chances are you have a webcam close by, or you can access one when you need to. All of this is good. I’m assuming you have used it, know your way around the software and can find the embed code or the link. Even better. Now it’s time to go on camera and here’s why. The continued suggestion to hit the video air waves might be getting a little boring, but it is the way forward. A quick study and review of how you can use video to pre-sell your services and your fees wouldn’t be a bad thing to get underway. Make a list of your core and key services, and do this per leisure, group, FIT and corporate and niche if you have one. List the services under each heading and then price them if you haven’t done so already.
below. Click on Computer & HD Displays and select your choice. In the next window you’ll be asked to save as – so choose a name for your PPT and then click the down arrow to select the format (MPEG 4, or WMV Windows Media Video) best suited for your end user / player – then save to the location (Desktop?) where you wish to find it again.
Next, you’ll need to script your overall key points that you should cover in your video. Then: Practice. Practice. Practice. Now it is showtime and you are about to be the star presenter for your agency. PowerPoint to Video If you are using PPT versions 2007, 2010, 2013 then you will find the options to convert your PPT into video. The PPT version 2003 does not have this new tool so you’ll need to use a conversion program such as www.avs4you.com - it is low cost and a terrific program to use. Very easy.
If you are using let’s say PPT 2013 then once your PPT is completed you can click on File, then Export to reach the window shown
Your content should show you in the best light possible – dress code, tone of voice, excellent eye contact with the camera and so on. Then with all the pizzazz of a movie star tell your audience about your services and your fees and sell, sell, sell! The sell part is all about YOU and your team. If you can, feature your team in the video too. You only have three minutes max’ but it is enough time for a ten-second clip from each member of your staff. What else could you use video for? What else could you sell via the video medium? Discuss it internally and launch a new marketing platform.
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
SERVICE FEE LIST The following has been scoured from online sources and presents quite a comprehensive listing of agency fees. Give some thought to your own fee schedule and what level of fees you would or should be charging. The keywords here are “from” so you are not locked in; “non-refundable” so you retain any and all fees. The Complimentary Services heading is a great idea and an excellent lead into the fee schedule and your Initial Consultation fee which you can always credit to the client’s file if you wish. Or, you could consider it an earned fee for consultation. This from one agency website: Independent trip fees are not applicable to cost of trip. They are also nonrefundable and paid in advance. For departures within one month of request date, please double the above amounts. Gutsy, but in total control! Like it. OUR COMPLIMENTARY SERVICES INCLUDE: 1. Management and communication of traveler preferences 2. Downloadable professional destination reports 3. Travel insurance review and purchase 4. Emergency contact number 5. Post-trip Review and Resolution, including: - Managing and filing travel insurance claims INITIAL CONSULTATION: 1. Initial Travel/Cruise Consultation from $XX AIRLINE TICKETS: 1. Continental US Airline tickets, train tickets, ticket refunds from $XX per … 2. Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii or Canadian Airline tickets from $XX per … 3. Exchange tickets from $XX per … 4. Discount coupon tickets from $XX per … 5. Multiple airline tickets from $XX per … 6. Multi-leg flights (more than six flights) on a single ticket from $xx per … 7. Domestic Award Tickets from $xx per … 8. International Airline Tickets: Non-stop flights $XX // Connecting flights from $XX per … 9. International Mileage Upgrade Tickets from $XX per … 10. International Award Tickets from $XX per person from research to ticket issuance 11. Round the World or Complex International Tickets from $XXX per … 12. Manual Air Invoices/Duplicate Invoices $xx per invoice CRUISES: 1. Cruise Research & Management Fee $XX per … 2. Cruise cancellation $XX per … 3. Cruise Wedding Planning Fee from $XX per … 4. Group Cruise Research & Planning Fee $XX to initiate research
TOURS: 1. Tour Research & Management Fee $XX per … 2. Destination Wedding Planning Fee from $XXX 3. Tour Cancellation Fee $XX per … HOTELS: 1. Hotel Only Reservations from $XX per … 2. Cancelled Hotel Reservations from $XX per … CAR RENTAL: 1. Car Only Reservations from $XX per … DOMESTIC & INDEPENDENT TRIP PLANNING: 1. Research and Management for trips depending on trip duration and complexity: 7 nights or less from $250 8 to 15 nights from $300 over 16 to 25 nights from $350 Over 25 nights TBA SPECIAL SERVICES: 1. Theatre Reservations from $XX per ticket 2. Returned / NSF cheque fee $XX 3. Visa applications $XX plus cost of visa, postage & delivery fees 4. Accessible Specialty Services $XX per hour (including scooter rental, arrangement for oxygen supplies, pet / seeing eye dog paperwork, luggage services, wheelchair rental and supply).
You can search online for more service fee suggestions. Notice the words / phrase Research and Management – what a great phrase that is – so be sure to use it somewhere in your service fee marketing. Over to you. Start writing out the services you provide and wish to provide. Use your base breakeven fee as a starting point and add the margin you need and want. Try to go from FREE to FEE as we say.
PROFITING FROM SERVICE FEES
THE “I WANNA PICK YOUR BRAIN” SERVICE FEE There are times when you’ll need a schedule of fees to suit those situations when your clients demand something of you and it’s not related to a new booking. The request takes up your time, prevents you from working on other opportunities and so you need a fee to charge or to scare off the offending customer! Remember your base, breakeven fee level? This rate should be the very least you charge for a quick chat to a cancellation. Alright. Here comes someone. They look promising. An adventurous looking person. Savvy looking. Could be well travelled and whoops… what did they say… they wanted to “pick my brains”… oh great! Hey it’s kool. You just need a fee for this. The “I Wanna Pick Your Brains” Fee No problem. In fact this is a money maker if you look at it from the right aspect. Of course you want to sell a travel product to this person, and you might. However right now, they just want to ‘pick your brain’ – and that costs time, expertise and… moola. So what is your advice only fee? You know that when someone wants to chat, you’ll never stay on topic. Other things creep into the conversation so more than likely out of a two-hour chat, 25% of the time will not be related to the trip they are seeking information for. I suggest you do not offer an hourly rate but a packaged deal. Your minimum is 2 hours (whether they use it or not) that costs $150 to $275 and whatever you discover, you hand over to your client. At best you would have made $275 over a 2 hour period or
less. The equivalent of a booking worth $2,750 at 10%. If this same person now wants you to book their trip you do not refund the fee. That was a separate transaction. You charge your booking fees and you retain full commission on whatever is being booked. The “Hey I Need a Hotel in Europe” Fee Well this could be considered a booking, not that glorious, so it’s more a service than a booking. You either want this business or you don’t – and if you don’t then one way out of this transaction is to refuse the business outright, another is to charge a very high fee hoping the client will not continue with their request. You can always suggest a website where they can book direct, which would be excellent customer service. Then again, these fiddly bits can add up if you have the patience for them. A response might be, “Sure I can do that for you – let me explain our a la carte fees and we’ll get busy.” Your fee for this type of fiddly work starts at $199 for the first three hotel reservations. No matter what comes your way that is not a five week luxury tour of the world booking, you can still make money by accessing a fee for the service. Don’t be shy about it. Your suppliers charge, your bank charges, your computer store has a green fee, your mechanic has a rag fee. You are in good company when you charge your fees and as long as you do so with confidence they client will buy into them too.
PROFIT FROM MEASURING UP
THE TOP 15O TRAVEL AGENTS Hereâ€™s something to read. It will also help you think about your service fees and the expertise you need in order to charge them. Below is a link to the 2012 Conde Naste review by Wendy Perrin featuring 150 top TAs around the world. As you read through each mini-bio, highlight keywords and expertise that you like then write your own mini bio. See if you can match these experts for their knowledge, talents and skills and if you do, perhaps your hourly rate should change and move up by $100 OR MORE!
I love this. THE CONVERSATION PRISM created by Brian Solis and now in its fourth version. So well thought out and designed that you should, when you have the time, click and view each and every social network listed. The prism website states: Version 4.0 brings about some of the most significant changes. With all of the changes in social media, we narrowed the view to focus on those that are on a path to mainstream understanding or acceptance. The result was the removal of 122 services while only adding 111. This introduces an opportunity for a series of industry or vertical-specific Prisms to be introduced so stay tuned. The latest social headings then are featured on the outer rim of the prism. Depending upon where you want to go with your social media marketing conversation, how you intend to socialize, engage your current clients, then finally ask for the sale – the circular list of headings, websites and applications will serve you well. It is the map to the social treasure you are looking for whether it’s social recognition or social sales and I’m betting on the latter. Social Media Does Not Sell, You Do This heading is one I created and stand behind as it is true in all aspects of selling. The tools you use on the job, to do the job do not close the sale – that’s your job and the job of your agency team. So beware of falling into the social media trap of purely chatting away online, getting LIKES and nothing else. It must all come down to money in the bank and that must happen always sooner rather than later.
The Blended Marketing Plan The term ‘blended’ usually means your marketing plan includes both online and offline tools and applications. The world of hard copy and digital do work well together and as you know e-mail rides both horses. It is now ‘traditional’ as it has been with us for more than 40 years – also it is still the #1 tool in the digital marketing world. We are still learning how to use email properly and depending on the version of Windows you use and the email product you use the marketing side of email has improved so well. Also, you can now use ready-to-send templates also found in Windows or an external program such as Constant Contact. Your Next Move Make a strong coffee, block the day and hit every website you see on this prism. Get to know what’s out there in the current social world of digital anything and everything and narrow down to one or two new and different tools to give you that edge over what has become mundane. You can continue to use Facebook of course but move up to creating a business page. Personal pages do not mix well with business. In fact turn all your social media activity to a business page format. Make your LinkedIn page a business overview not a resume. Management Conversation Be sure to include the Conversation Prism on the next management meeting agenda. Study it. Go as deep as you can to understand it and the work behind this enterprise by Mr. Solis and his team. If you need help building your social media plan – you can email me and we’ll plan accordingly.
PROFITING THROUGH KLOUT
CHOOSE YOUR CLOUT OR KLOUT AND SELL LIKE YOU MEAN IT Every so often I come across articles in the trade press and they cause me to think about how many new comers to the trade are being misguided. The latest article highlighted several TA’s who were rated high in their use of social media. They had Klout and belonged to this site. They had measured up on the Klout score which is all about influence – versus sales. I’ll say it again, I love all things marketing and that includes all things social. What comes to mind every time I find an article exposing how well someone is doing in the trade I always ask the question: “How much did they generate in commission?” The response is usually an expression of “Say what? Sales? This is social media… we engage, we don’t ask for the sale!” And that was almost one response I received during a webinar when I posted the question to the presenter.
The thing is I have to pay the office rent, pay the mortgage, feed my kids, my dogs, get the car repaired… oh yes and pay salaries and bonuses to my staff. Well what can I do – I am so well engaged and I have Klout from here to there. People read my stuff. I have a following, yes I do. Just a minute my bank manager is saying “So what?” Pay up! I guess the banker is not into social media. He wants his money and expects me to generate it through my business to pay his.
So back to Klout for the moment. I am happy for any travel agent who can boast their Klout score as being close to Justin Beiber’s (I think I am anyway) or Barak Obama’s (much better). It sounds good. It looks good. So where’s the Klout Kaching? Where’s the money?
It seems my ‘eat what you kill’ business acumen is understood by people like bankers and lawyers and real estate sales people but is getting lost on the travel trade as they go all out to build clout and get socially engaged to people they believe they know, but don’t.
What seems to be happening in the trade is this: we’re losing words and phrases such as sales and closing to such words as engage, engaging and engagement. We want our clients to follow us and share their lives with us. We are told we want to influence them into submission.
Profiting through your clout means taking your trade clout and connections to market and doing such a great job that when you do ask for the sale you receive those expected “book me now” calls.
You know you cannot even utter the words close the sale, or ask for the business in some social media circles. No sir. This is all about delivering social content that is not an in your face advertisement and so well written that thousands of people LIKE it, LIKE you, too. So nice.
Is it better to take a booking or have 30 new likes, fans, pins, followers? Only you can answer that question and as the ownermanager you may wish to ask your front end team where their hearts are: in sales or social media engagement? It’s a tough call, but it’s not personal, it’s business. http://klout.com
PROFITING FROM TECHNOLOGY
CREATING MAPS FOR YOUR TOURS Here’s a very neat application that works very well. You’ll need to follow the steps to understand the full scale of choices however my quick attempt below shows my Mother Land, and a flight to London, then a camper icon, a route to Snowdonia in North Wales and then I could add a mountain image and another route to the Lake District for instance. Best to watch the tutorial to start.
This application would service you well for your niche market tours where you are going off the grid and need a special, one-of-a-kind map. You could show vineyards, shopping centers, theme parks, hiking trails etc. Tied into your niche. Your maps can be as detailed as you want them to be and you can add your own logos, add your maps to your website as a download, print them in a hard copy brochure or leave them as digital maps in your ebook or e-brochure. http://www.stepmap.com/tourism3
PROFITING FROM TECHNOLOGY
CREATE YOUR OWN ENGAGING SCREEN SAVERS What was old is new again! Screensavers are still out there and working hard to keep agency services, imagery, staff portraits and much more, alive and well and on a client’s computer screen. Here’s a program I personally use. It’s the Easy ScreenSaver Station. Add an image, add audio, add pretty much whatever you think will keep your client’s focussed on you. Not all clients create their own screen saver – many download a Nike or National Geographic screensaver. Why not yours? Do your due diligence on screensavers and how they can boost your present day marketing efforts. Wanna go whole hog? How about mouse pads? A mouse with a logo even?
Click here to check out the program. http://www.dd2002.com/
PROFITING FROM TECHNOLOGY
THE SLIDESHARE TOOLS Slideshare is a fantastic tool for, as the name says, sharing your presentations and also your videos and brochures, too. The focus is on marketing and you would use this program to promote your services in a PowerPoint presentation or push out a video of your most recent trip or tour you are trying to fill. The basic program is free as can see below and allows for one presentation per month with the Track Presentation for one presentation included. This should work fine for a typical travel agency. If you want more, then you go Pro.
The Slide Tracker allows you to follow up on your presentation. It will track who views your presentation, how long they spent viewing etc. Click the link to see what others are doing.
PROFITING FROM TECHNOLOGY
SAVE YOUR DEVICE LIFE TECH STUFF There you are, running late. An emergency occurs, you reach for your mobile phone and wouldn’t you know it, no power. No battery. What to do? You could “plug in” and charge your phone as long as you have the right cable with you and access to a power point / outlet – either in your car, on a wall, somewhere a socket to plug into. Your laptop via a USB perhaps. What if all devices are low on power? Time for some tech stuff to get you connected and on your way. Let’s work with the technology that’s out there to save you, me AND your clients from those times when splat hits the fan and you, me, they need access to their mobile phone. Here’s a couple of life saving gadgets you should invest in and also make sure your agency team are so equipped when they take off on their FAM and personal travel. This is all about personal safety as much as it is about making that meeting on time. The Mophie I’ll let the Mophie sales pitch deliver the message: Ultra-thin, 1500mAh protective battery case made for iPhone 5. Feel the difference in the palm of your hand; 13% thinner than any of our previous iPhone juice packs. It's so thin, you won't believe there's a battery inside.
The Crankerator www.photojojo.com Yes, that’s what it is called and sells for $60. There are many more crank style chargers to explore. The Pocket Socket 2 Hand Crank Charger The Pocket Socket 2 is a hand powered generator that charges electronics by hand crank. It generates up to 10watts of electricity at 120 volts. That is enough power to charge a wide range of devices. Sells for $65. Available from Amazon.com and other online sources. Think end-of-world scenarios. Need power.
PROFITING FROM KNOWING YOUR WINDOWS TOOLS
USING THE STICKY APP The old yellow sticky note. Been there stuck that. They served a purpose and they still do and now you can have your yellow sticky in a digital format, right on your desktop. You still have to manage them however. They will not take care of themselves and also just like the old days and ways – it’s up to the owner of the sticky to control the sticking of the sticky notes!
Where is this thing you ask? Well, if you are running Windows 7, it is right there on your program listing. Click START, then Programs, Accessories and half way down the list you’ll find Sticky Notes. Right click and Pin to Taskbar.
With the Sticky Note app firmly planted on your Task Bar you can quickly create a thing to do note / reminder. It will stay stuck to your desktop and to read it when other windows are open you can click the Sticky Icon on the taskbar or if you want to take a quick peek at your desktop without closing or minimizing your current windows on screen – simply click the view button in the far right bottom corner of your taskbar. It is to the right of your date and time app. Windows 8 users you’ll need to press/click the Windows key on your keyboard and type in Sticky Notes and it shall appear. Then right click and pin to the taskbar. You can leave the Sticky note on your desktop as you close down for the night – it will be there when you fire up your computer the next day.
WHERE DID WORDART GO? If you relied on using WordArt as I did and still do, then you might be wondering where it went in the latest versions of MS Office. Well… it’s not there. It’s no longer in the latest versions, however there is a way to access it. As agency manager you are no doubt involved in creating various promotions and one of the key elements to advertising travel is the slogan and the design of that slogan. Enter the use of alphabets in various graphical layouts. To find the older version of the WordArt Gallery all you have to do is SAVE your document as a Word 97-2003 Document – shown on the right.
If you have opened a NEW document it will be opening in the current version / format of 2010 / 2013 – to access the WordArt Gallery you will need to save it in the Word 97-2003 format as above – and once again, the old WordArt Gallery will be revealed when you click on the WordArt icon. Now all you have to do is produce a winning slogan!
YOUR NEXT IN-FLIGHT NOVEL BY
ANTHONY DALTON Here’s your next read, at home or when travelling – written by travel industry veteran, explorer, speaker, author Anthony Dalton. I’ve known Tony since 1978 and he is the real deal. When it comes to exploits he has actually done them as told in his book “Adventures With Camera & Pen”. More about Tony’s books right here: http://www.anthonydalton.net/
THE STORY… Canadian zoologist Gray Pendennis is pushing his limits. Desperate to find and protect a man-eating Royal Bengal tiger in a Bangladesh jungle, he is on a race against time as two bereaved fathers, whose daughters were killed by the striped predator, team up to hunt the menace. Working far from civilization, the three men are on a collision course beyond the boundaries of conscience. The rogue tiger’s kills escalate and the zoologist’s work is complicated by his fascination for a beautiful woman and her underwater archaeologist husband as they too join the hunters and the hunted where the mangrove forest meets the Bay of Bengal. A poacher – a high-ranking military officer – throws himself into the mix, adding another, deadlier force to the potent equation. The tiger, top of the food chain in his environment, uses stealth and cunning to gain the advantage, only to lose it as nature darkens the world.
The newly redesigned Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) program is a bold collection of courses and online training focused on the critical skills that today’s travel professionals need to succeed. Graduates will learn how to grow their business while earning recognized industry credentials. The CTIE certification is parallel to the Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) certification, thus, representing the pinnacle of travel industry professionalism for seasoned travel professionals who are interested in advancing their career. NEW: It is no longer a prerequisite to earn the CTA designation or test out of CTA prior to enrolling in CTIE. NEW: While studying for your CTIE, you will enjoy Premium Membership benefits such as white papers, expert webinars, podcasts, blog posts and much more. NEW: All courses are completed online in The Travel Institute’s Communiversity. NEW: Interest free 12 month payment plan is now available. The CTIE program is perfect for travel professionals in non-consumer sales roles such as: Suppliers Host agency executives Consortia leaders Marketers
Internet travel executives Back of office accountants IT support staff
The new CTIE curriculum covers these five core competencies: Communication Leadership Management Sales and Marketing Customer Service To earn the CTIE, travel professionals must: Possess at least 5 years of full-time industry, management, or business experience Complete a 2000-3000 word White Paper Commit to annual certification maintenance to retain certification After certification, commit to annual Travel Institute membership
That’s right. I’m giving two-thumbs up for The Travel Institute’s CTIE program and recommend you check it out. At the same time look for my management webinars & workbooks that will indirectly support what you learn by studying the CTIE content. Click on The Travel Institute’s logo for more information.
PROFITING THROUGH STEVE’S EXPERIENCE
When you need two-heads thinking, or another point of view focused on a business challenge or input to help you make a decision, try Skyping With Steve and tap into the knowledge of someone that understands your business, your industry and your management challenges, someone who speaks the language of travel & tourism. Here’s how it works: Email Steve for a preferred time and date. Include a brief overview of the topic / situation to be discussed. At the scheduled time – Skype Steve at: smptraining1 Rates are: $75 for the first 90 minutes ($65/hour thereafter) + taxes. Long term commitments negotiated. We will use the Pro version of Skype which allows us to share screens, exchange files, share desktops, deliver PowerPoint and host up to 10 video feeds. If you turn your webcam towards your management team in your boardroom, you can bring Steve into your meeting via the big screen.
CLASSIFIEDS Looking for something to sponsor? Try my latest keynote / workshop. Have it customized to suit your products / destinations.
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