WHAT THEY DIDN’T TEACH YOU IN TRAVEL SCHOOL! 4/2016
THE HOW-TO MAGAZINE FOR TRAVEL TRADE PROFESSIONALS 4
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WHAT THEY DIDN’T TEACH YOU IN TRAVEL SCHOOL!
THE TRAVEL INSTITUTE – Student Membership Option
WHAT THE TRAVEL TRADE ISN’T TELLING YOU!
SELLING TRAVEL’S WEBSITE CREATION SERVICE
WHO IS BURIED IN GRANT’S TOMB? By Steve Gillick
READ MORE ME HERE!
THE SOURCE OF MARKETING IDEAS
The DESIRE to travel starts early and continues throughout one’s life – are you marketing to Generation Z?
Share your money making ideas in SELLING TRAVEL. CONTACT Steve Crowhurst firstname.lastname@example.org 250-738-0064 www.sellingtravel.net
Publisher: SMP Training Co. www.sellingtravel.net
Contributors Steve Crowhurst, Anthony Dalton, Steve Gillick.
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SELLING TRAVEL is owned and published by Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. Protected by International Copyright Law. SELLING TRAVEL can be shared, forwarded, cut and pasted but not sold, resold or in any way monetized. Using any images or content from SELLING TRAVEL must be sourced as follows: “Copyright SMP Training Co. www.sellingtravel.net” SMP Training Co. 6171 Strathcona Place, Nanaimo, BC, Canada, V9T 0A1 Note: Steve Crowhurst is not responsible for outcomes based on how you interpret or use the ideas in SELLING TRAVEL. T: 250-760-0893.
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SALES & MARKETING TIPS, TOOLS & TECHNIQUES FOR ALL TRAVEL TRADE PROFESSIONALS
Steve Crowhurst, Publisher
WHAT THEY DIDN’T TEACH YOU… I know, I know. You spent six grand and you passed with flying colours and you now work in a local travel agency, own a travel agency or started a home-based one. Or, you might have gone straight into being your own tour operator, bought a hotel or opened a B&B. It’s all good. As long as your career is focused on travel & tourism, then as I say, it’s all good and here’s the but… BUT, so much of what you learned in travel school was then and this is now. Some things you just cannot learn at school. You learn on the job, in the real world. Or you read Selling Travel! Selling travel today is different from the old days. Yes? Ya think so? Well not quite. A dream trip then is a dream trip now. A deal then, is a deal now. Communication has changed that’s for sure but closing the sale hasn’t. Methods of payment have changed, but saving up hasn’t. Old style marketing has morphed more than changed. A niche is still a niche. Service still reigns supreme. There’s always a client you don’t need or want. It always takes time to build a quality client list. There’s always a guru telling you what to do, very few showing you how. Everyone in the business of selling travel continues to need and want workable, doable, low-to-no-cost, new business generating ideas. The very reason to read this magazine. So find out what you didn’t learn at travel school and make your own list of action items you’d like to learn more about. Don’t forget you have a series of e-Guides you can purchase from The Travel Institute that will help you move ahead in most things related to selling travel. Here’s to your continued success in SELLING TRAVEL. Best regards. Steve Crowhurst, CTC, CTM Hon. firstname.lastname@example.org www.sellingtravel.net
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WHAT THEY DIDN’T TEACH YOU IN TRAVEL SCHOOL! There was a time in my life when I was a General Manager of a travel school, so I have the inside track on how travel schools are run and they usually run according to the personality, drive, forward thinking and creative capability of the ownership and the educational team. Many schools are delivering the curriculum handed down from the educational association that governs their state, province, territory, country etc. The curriculum is then embellished with real time experience by the educator presenting the material. That said, there are things you can never learn in class or get to grips with until you yourself are out in the world of selling travel. So here’s a few tips to help speed up your success after leaving travel school. Never Sell on Price! Wrong! You will hear this, read about it and be told never to sell price and this is a good tip to start with. The truth is: yes you can and should sell price as and when it closes the sale. The price depends on what you are selling and what you are comparing. If you are selling low cost trips then the price is the selling point. If you are selling luxury tours, then the price still matters, however luxury pricing is generally based on what’s included. If there are two tours, with the same things / events included and the accommodation is a match, then the price is again the selling point. Currency fluctuation and world events also play a key role in whether or not you sell on price and price alone. Sell On Savings! Yes! If you wish, you could be creative and instead of selling on price, you sell on savings. Your focus would be on “taking this tour will save you…$XXX” as opposed to announcing, “…the cheapest I can find is…” Using the word savings is classier than discount.
Wait for a FAM Trip! Wrong! Never, ever put your education on hold. Be responsible for your own education and use FAM trips for times when you can fit them in to your schedule. Professional travel agents always decide what they need to know and where they need to go. They book it, request an agents rate if available and go for it. In this way, you would return with the knowledge you need to start selling that destination or cruise or tour. If you wait for a FAM you could be six months behind in your business. If you are in the travel business purely for the FAM trips, then you should quite honestly leave now. Your travel school may have been too polite to tell you, but FAM trips are reserved for the bone fide producers. Sell Your Previous Talents If you have come from another industry into the travel industry, which is more than likely unless you were born into selling travel, you can in fact use your past position and talents to attract a client base to do business with you.
This idea of marketing your previous business life, skills and talents you experience prior to entering the travel industry does not always make for a topic of conversation. Rarely is it discussed as a marketing concept in a marketing class. It is however extremely valid and it works like this - let’s assume you worked in a bank before selling travel. What could you say about yourself as a former bank employee to attract would–be travellers? Could it be that you understand currency exchange? How about traveller’s cheques? Fraud? Saving fees? How to make your money go further / buy more? Travel insurance perhaps if you sold it over the counter at the bank? Keep reviewing your existing talents & knowledge and determine where they fit into your travel marketing plan - then decide how to turn those skills and talents into a marketable event. Negotiating With Suppliers Your preferred suppliers have heard it all before. The promises of untold riches if they support your group tour ideas and more. If they invested in your advertising and joint ventured with you or paid for it in full they would enjoy even more untold riches. Believe it. They have all been there spent that before and for little return in most cases. To gain support from your suppliers you will need to prove to them that you can produce. That’s the way it is. Very few suppliers will go on risk for thousands of dollars with a travel agent who does not have a track record. The answer then is for you to get busy attracting group business and proving to yourself first and foremost that you can in fact, attract, sell and close group business.
You also need to show that your advertising and promotional creativity works. With ten or more profitable groups behind you, you will have some credibility when you call your supplier to discuss their involvement IF they want your business. That said, some suppliers will go out on a limb and help you out first time around. You will still need to show them a plan of how you will, most importantly, follow up to convert all inquiries into a booking. And then you must walk the talk. When a supplier does invest in you and takes the risk, you get one shot at demonstrating your talents. They need you to close the sales you say you can close. Whether you have a team of travel agents working for you, with you or you are a standalone, self-employed home based agent there is no other option than to close the inquiries generated by the joint marketing venture. Speaking to fifty people is of no interest. Closing 50 paid bookings is. So although you may hear that getting out to meet people is the way to boost your sales, and this is true, the only measure of your success and talents that a supplier is interested in is the number of bookings you generated for them. Finding Your Niche I am sure you heard all about niche markets at your travel school and this is the way to go selling travel in the present times. There are options to how you sell a niche market. Here’s a few agency models to think on: 1. Dedicated niche only agency. 2. A general all-purpose travel agency with a niche market / specialty. 3. A travel agency with two or three specialties.
When you sell only one niche / specialty you are swimming in dangerous waters. Imagine if your sole niche was focused on Belgium, then based on the recent attacks, you might well be out of business about now. On the other hand, as you become known for selling a specific niche and you are generating huge returns, then the suppliers who support such a niche will more than likely seek you out. Being an all-purpose travel agency today is tough. It requires knowledge of all continents, 195 countries, all air routes, all cruise lines and itineraries etc. When you add in one or more specialties, and if you’re working by yourself, something has to give. If you drop the ball, your clients will migrate elsewhere. Having two or three specialties that are connected to each other is more often the better way to structure your business. You could for instance sell honeymoon and wedding packages. A second niche that is related might be your wedding planning services / or your wedding photography service if you are an excellent photographer. Today your “niche” can also be a service as opposed to a product. The 20-5-1 Formula Did your travel school tell you about the sales formula that goes something like X meetings, X presentations, X bookings? Over time you would get to know your level of sales performance and decide your own formula. It could be that for you, you need to meet, email, phone or be in front of 20 people to get five people going to the next step resulting in one booking. Some TAs could be enjoying a 5/5/5/ formula. Others might be at 60/5/1.
With the world in its present state, your local community might be shying away from travelling overseas. If that’s the case your numbers could go to 250/5/1. It’s important to determine your current and hoped-for formula. Once you understand how well you sell, then you can plan your sales and marketing to accommodate your needs. If you are a low closer then you need more prospects. If you are an excellent closer, then you might need to raise the bar and attract a better class / category of client. Winning The Business If you heard that everyone wants to travel and that group travel is everywhere that might well be true. For the most part, the majority of travellers have their dedicated method of booking. They are online, or using a travel agent. To win the business in your community then means you must demonstrate why you are better than the Internet. Where another travel agency is involved, show why dealing with you is better than dealing with them. Corporate accounts and group travel accounts are usually already held by a travel agency specializing in travel management and groups and incentives. Many of these agencies are massive in terms of sales and the technology they employ. Either way, for you to go up against any other travel agency means you must be prepared to win the business from the customer’s current agent of record. Not that easy when there is a 2, 3, 5 to 20 year relationship in place. So although there is opportunity on every street corner, you will more than likely need to wrestle the business away from the current agency.
Dress Code Over the years the industry has dumbed down in so many areas and one particular area is that of dress code. If you truly wish to stand out as a travel professional then you'll want to dress like it and that means full business attire and not a scruffy t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Now, there is a twist to this comment and that is to dress according to your client base and also the product you are selling. Let me add one more twist, you can and could wear the attire that matches your niche and if you do, simply make sure that what you wear is in good repair. The key point then is to represent yourself, your agency, your suppliers and the industry in a professional manner. If you don't then you become branded as how you look and appear in public. That "look" you become famous for could help generate more bookings for you, or it could be driving business away. Think back to what your travel school told you about dressing for success. If this point was missed, you now have an idea of what can help you win more business. The QR Code LIVES! In the marketing courses you took you may have been advised about traditional methods of marketing travel and how new technology can help boost those so-called offline (as opposed to online) marketing activities. It's true that if you add and an "e" to those traditional marketing methods and consider the digital versions then you have the best of both worlds. In other words, you could produce a paper based flyer or newsletter and also write the same content and email it as a PDF, post it to your blog, post to your Facebook page and so on.
One of the not-so-new tools is the QR code and many marketing gurus are telling you that the QR code is dead. Well, that ain't so. Not in the travel business. Mind you, you have to know how and when to use a QR code for a greater ROI. The QR code can be replicated in so many forms, from being printed on paper or clothing, to showing as an image on your website, stamped on brochures etc. One of the best ways to use a QR code is to have it printed on the back of a t-shirt that you wear on the weekends around town, or to the gym, or wherever you go. When it is printed on the back of the t-shirt, people behind you can scan it, and then go directly to your website. Using New Tech' to Promote Traditional Marketing Methods Here's where you use your Facebook page to promote a live and in person presentation. Your website can also carry that message and your blog too. It's a matter of using the current high tech tools to promote high touch which in turn means the client will get to meet you in person versus the digital version. So many travel agents are, in a sense, hiding behind email so much so that they rarely get to meet their clients unless the client wanders into the agency. Here's a way to keep your client relationships real by promoting an event where you can meet, greet and chat. Use your tech tools to promote a date, time and place where your clients and their friends and family can come listen to you talk about your latest trip and or tour. Itâ€™s really that simple. The venue you select will take care of signage, coffee, seating, screen or TV for any videosâ€Ś and then you just need to practice your stagecraft and perhaps invite a BDM to assist with the product review.
Travel Opportunities Are Everywhere This statement is often bantered around the trade and itâ€™s often a statement made during a travel school selling class. This statement is in fact a true statement. The challenge in saying it is teaching oneâ€™s audience how to seek and grasp those opportunities. I know this for a fact as I receive emails from new travel agents who are confused about where all those opportunities are that they heard about. Fact is they tell me, "I can't seem to find them or attract any business and people I talk to, never book with me." If your travel school advised you that opportunity is everywhere, they are correct. What might have been glossed over is the fact that it takes time and experience to recognise when an opportunity exists and to quickly determine whether or not it is worth while chasing and whether not the overall investment of time, money and energy will pay off. Here's how you explore what you deem to be an opportunity. First things first you must approach non-competitive sources who might have experienced the opportunity or similar experience before. These sources would be your corporate head office, your manager, a fellow travel agent, tourism board officials and your preferred supplier BDMs. The same sources apply to home based agents. You can be seduced by grand tales of riches by getting involved with events such as the Olympics - well, take it from me, there are too many travel agents and travel agencies buried in debt for trying. Stay away from such events where you attempt to package tickets, flights, hotels and tours unless your pockets are way deep! Opportunity lies in seeing a new tour taking off, or a spike in clients vacationing at home versus going overseas, or a destination that has recovered from a major devastating event. Some opportunities are fads versus
long term and that's okay. You could be in and out of that fad and make some money while it lasts. Why not? Success with long term opportunities usually refers to the fact that you can duplicate a tour for instance and repeat it every month. Once the format is created it's a matter of marketing the same tour for another date. As business builds you might want to offer more dates and new itineraries. Letâ€™s say you notice a new car dealership in town. The opportunity is to approach the owner manager and discuss a sales contest at some time in the future and suggest that the top three sales people win a one week vacation that the dealership purchases from you. From this small seed you can grow the relationship and as the dealership grows, so does your business. Eventually that dealership might employ 40 people and they travel with partners and friends and family so your client base is growing too and it all started by you noticing a new business in town. Start your opportunity search by reading the local newspaper and look for new businesses and also events where you can market your services. Look for events where you can help people better understand how to use travel to attract customers to their store, business or service. For instance, you know of a long term women's clothing store. It's been in town for years. You approach and discuss a travel promotion for their summer fashions. The fashion store makes use of your posters, brochures and videos as they offer their clients a reason to buy that dress or swimsuit in the window. Your travel collateral will for sure cause their customers to see themselves on that beach wearing that fashion item. Of course your marketing partner, the fashion store, sends their clients to you to book their trip.
Review There’s so many things that you were taught, told, advised about and so much of it can only be revealed as mentioned at the start of this article, once you are truly involved in selling travel. Travel educators cannot stay on top of everything they need to know so a good deal of your learning how to sell travel would normally come from you asking those “WHY?” and “HOW?” questions to prompt the travel educators experience. Make no mistake, the Golden Years of selling travel when quite literally the streets were paved with commissions have gone. Today, you need to work a little harder, smarter, longer perhaps and build your skills and talents to such a point that you are worth every penny of the fees you charge. Continuing Education Your travel school training is the start and from there on it really is your responsibility to further your education, spending your own money and taking advantage in a good way, when the trade offers you a chance to travel for free or at a discount. Besides travel & tourism education you should also factor in generic business, sales and marketing courses that go beyond what your travel school taught you. Once again it would be impossible for any travel school to teach you all the possible cutting edge marketing tips, tools and techniques.
Once you enter the travel industry and any time thereafter, you should, you must, you owe it to yourself to study every possible business planning and idea implementation technique there is. Did your travel course tell you about the use of travel apps? You cannot escape the tech, and you’ll need to know how smartphones work, the best travel apps for your clients and you’ll also need to know how to demonstrate those apps. Start now! Did your travel course explain why safety is a #1 concern? Travel safety information is a “must know” item for you and there is no excuse for not advising your clients how they can travel safely by being more aware of their surroundings. Be sure to study up on travel safety gadgets that your clients should carry with them and also how to dress when travelling, i.e. no shorts and flip flops when flying. If anything happens where there is a fire in the cabin, they will not survive the walk on hot steel!
Check the next article:
What The Travel Trade Isn’t Telling You!
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It’s a common thing to hear veteran travel agents and also sales reps telling anyone who will listen that there’s no money in selling travel. Now the fact that they themselves have spent a life long career in the travel business doesn’t seem to register somehow. It’s also a fact that ma & pa tell their kids not to enter the travel industry as they know someone who works in the travel trade and they often say there’s no money in it. Here’s what they’re not telling you:
It’s All a Lie… There IS Money to be Made! Over the course of time, trade magazines and travel trade associations have conducted studies based on what travel agents are earning. More often than not, the earnings are somewhere in the $20,000 to $35,000 range. Then there’s the few who are at the top of their game and naturally they are earning five figure incomes.
It’s called training and then it’s all down to practice, something the majority of low income travel agents never do.
In between those statistics are travel agents who work for travel corporations both leisure and corporate and their salaries are coming in around the $45,000 + range. Some up to $60,000.
When I mention these totals in my workshops, there is always someone to challenge the statement and of course they usually base the fact that that amount can never be charged on themselves. Meaning they aren’t worth that amount of money.
Six Figures A six figure income would start at $100,000 and having been there sold that, I know it’s there to be done. Then there are those to generate double that amount. So there is, once again, money to be made in selling travel. Now the BUT… In order to generate that level of income or more, you must know how to market, sell and close the sale. Nothing magic about it.
$450 Service Fees Through my own research and in talking with travel agents who achieve these levels there are some agents charging $450 an hour for their consultation.
My usual response would be that if one person is doing it, it proves it can be done. Next step is to learn how to become so good at what you do that you too can charge fees at that level. Product Knowledge is NOT Sales It has become common practice for the travel trade, meaning suppliers and tourism boards, to deliver what they term Sales
Training when in fact it’s product knowledge training. What they’re not telling you, or teaching you is HOW TO SELL their products and generally the reason for this is that they themselves have never sold their own product. Developed it, yes. Know all about it, yes. Can articulate it, yes. Sell it, NO! So what you get in terms of training is product knowledge and not sales. You Need Plan B The travel trade in general is not business planning savvy and therefore you never get to learn how to plan your travel business to maximize on marketing time and seasonality. There is Plan A which is your generic ‘go sell’ plan that you can repeat every year, and then there’s Plan B for when all hell breaks loose in the area you sell to and you now need a back-up plan in order to stay in business. No one tells you this, because they’re not up to speed in what’s happening around the world and how world events affect the local selling scene. Watch The News You can and should rely on your suppliers for the latest news about their products and then you should also make a commitment to watching the local and world news on your preferred screen. No one will tell you to do this – however, it is an absolute fact that you need to know what is happening in your world and especially if you are to stay above the poverty line. You should always be well informed.
After you watch the news, then you decide whether or not your Plan A is relevant. If not, you have time to make changes and start promoting product that is not close to the site of the terror attack for instance. Specialization Just For The Sake of It Here’s a great one. Everyone as far as I read it is talking niche markets and specialization. Great if you know how. Not so good if you have no experience or know very little about the niche you are in or thinking about. Niche based selling means that you are ‘the guru’, the knower of all things related to the said niche. This would mean you speak the language, you have travelled ‘there’ twenty times or more, you have all the contacts you need on site… and most importantly, you have travelled the itinerary you are selling. As most niche opportunities are based on a person’s passion, to enter a niche market you are not passionate about is pure death. A slow death too as your marketing money runs away and the income is not filling the empty pot. If You Cannot Sell… Has anyone ever told you that in order to be successful in selling travel, you must know how to sell? Sounds easy however more travel agents are prone to customer service and not sales, hence low incomes. If You Cannot Market… Before you can close a sale you need to attract it. This is where your marketing expertise comes into play. Once again if you have never been instructed on, about or shown how to first of all “think” marketing, and then create a winning strategy you will never attract the clients you need and want.
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Here’s something they didn’t tell you in travel school – it really is all about YOU. That’s right and even when that tab on your website says About US… it should really be about you, and you, and you. If your About US tab leads a visitor to your website, then to a wall of text about the company, that’s okay - BUT your prospective customers are wanting to know WHO they will be dealing with and what type of experience they (you) have. Here’s some ideas on how you can make your About US / About ME page better. Your advertising and promotional activities are (hopefully) attracting the travelling consumer to look further into the offers you are pushing their way. Their next move is to visit your website to have a look round, and then, they click on the About US tab. The reason they do that is obvious. They want to know more about your agency and specifically about you. There are of course degrees of information your About US page should have available. To list just corporate fluff is bordering on typical and not exciting. No customer service there at all. The Team This is very, very important. That visitor to your website is going to give you roughly three seconds to tell your story. Your About US page is where you can, in those few seconds, sell your team and yourself. This is where customers click to learn about you. If they find nothing but corporate speak, they might just click away. To keep prospects glued to your webpage and then move them to where they can email or generate a booking, you’ll need to tell them more about yourself, your travel history that I like to call
provenance and of course tell them about your travel speciality. The Photo This too is a must have. Sure I know some of you might balk at having your photo on your website, but why is the question? If you are concerned about stalking, ID theft…well chances are you’re living in a fear based world. Stop it! Just get on with promoting yourself. Back to the photo:
Be sure it’s a professional shot Keep it corporate unless you want to look like you are doing what you sell – i.e. wear adventure clothing if you sell adventure tours for instance. Never, ever have that tongue hanging out as if you’re drunk and forget the devil horns hand sign. Go retro for a different look and use black & white or sepia. Very classy.
Too Much Information Let the information reflect your travel talents and not your family, private or social life. No children’s names, no pets. List nothing outside of your travel selling activity.
The Full Story No need to bore anyone with the last 35 years of your travel history. You can however, and should, have a Read More… caption for those prospective customers who do want to know more about your travels. Let that read more link to a hidden page that represents your travel bio complete with photographs you have taken, and also your video footage too. The About ME Video So easy to do. You have a smartphone that shoots HD, so set it up and talk to it. Try it out a few times until you get it right. Crop the video footage and you’re done. Now upload your About ME video to your About US / ME page. Now the visitor to your website can see the real you. From US to YOU When you run your own show as a home based travel agent, then the About US tab doesn’t make sense. So change that tab to About ME… or something a little more exciting. Get to Know Me Better… that might work. Or use your name, About Steve. You could try several phrases until you get the best response. Try My World, or I’ve Been There… anything that’s a little different and attracts someone to read more. List Your Credentials Many travel agents have their CTA, CTC, CTIE and a host of CLIA designations plus even more specialty courses under their belt yet they fail to promote their credentials other than listing the acronyms after their name on their business card. We need a little more faith in our accomplishments and that means your certifications need to be marketed.
You should stand tall and tell the world that you are an accomplished and talented travel agent and there is something else you need to show and tell too. If your travel school did not tell you to start counting or keep count of your travels by miles, destinations, nights away, flights flown, nautical miles cruised, number of cruises etc., then I’m telling you now. Count up what you’ve done, where you have been, what you’ve seen, miles flown and cruised etc., and build this into a marketing campaign. This travel data about yourself is one of the things that sets you apart from the rest. If you have not yet built a substantial travel record then guess what – it’s time to hit the road and build that history. Your clients want to know that you know! The Silent Video There is a new trend in video and it is a silent one. The messaging that was once audio is now shown in titles on the video. The reason behind this is that the person playing your video may be at work, or travelling on public transportation and without headphones. So, the gurus tell us – the trend in video today is to create the silent movie version. What a great way for you to showcase yourself and your travels. An image of the world comes into view and up pops your icon showing 82 countries visited. Subtle. To the point. Easily understood. The Contact Me Now Phrase From your About ME webpage the customer-to-be should be able to email you directly. Do not ever show an email address as info@. Use your name and let your prospect feel special. Allow them to contact you directly because after it is all about YOU, and even more so, it is all about THEM!
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Come on, I know you’ve always wanted to travel to a place you have always dreamed about. Where is it? How long have you been dreaming about going there? Why haven’t you made it there as yet? Money? Life in general? Things not happening as you planned? Well guess what? You are tracking the same as so many of your clients. The thing to keep in mind is that that dream never leaves a person. It is always in their mind to one day complete on that inner contract. To get “there” someday before they die. The dream trip therefore is something you always promote.
Chances are your travel school did talk about dream trips in terms of the price, the place, the product and so on, but did they tell you how to sell them? Did they show you how to market them? Well here you will find out the full W5. The first thing you must do is get in touch with your own inner dreamer.
What Actually is Your Dream? It is very important that you fully understand your own dream trip and why you haven’t yet completed the trip. Or, you have made the trip and you can now articulate the challenge in making it happen even though you work in the travel industry. Either way you have a story to talk about and to reference in your marketing and also when you take the stage and present at your own consumer event that speaks to… you‘ve got it, Dream Trips and making them come true. The Overall Feeling Of Satisfaction I can still recall the feeling of having sailed around the world. I did that by the time I was 19. I had planned and dreamed of travelling the world from around the age of eleven, and it intensified at thirteen, and at eighteen I found the way to make it happen. I worked on board P&O ships scrubbing decks, loading stores and carrying the beer from hold to passenger decks. There is no better feeling than accomplishing that dream trip.
It pays to know just what your own dream trip is. That way, you can share your ideas with your clients when you ask them about where they have always dreamed of going. You can build your business around your dream trip and you can also focus on what so many people say they want to do before they die and that is to cruise around the world.
Always Add That Dream Trip It doesn’t matter what type of ad you are placing… always add in at least a one liner that promotes a luxury trip or a world cruise. Not a segment, the entire round trip. Put the price in there too… $300,000 no worries. Just do it. You just never know and the cost for the extra lines in your add amount to a pittance.
A quick survey of your existing clients will tell you just where your clients are dreaming of travelling. With that information it is a quick win to find the product, match it to your clients and promote. There may be clients sharing the same dream and then for the most part, chances are everyone has a slightly different version of the same dream. Meaning one couple will want the world cruise, another will want Amazon. Another will want a river cruise, round trip. On the touring side of our business, well… the world is waiting isn’t it? Where, when, how long for… three weeks to three years… just let your client tell you and start planning. There Are Two Ways To Do This Getting into the Dream Trip business means you must be ready to take on some extraordinary requests. You’ll need to be very creative and not afraid of phoning direct to a small B&B for instance somewhere in the Scottish hills to make the booking. You either create the dream trip then promote it (the world cruise), or you promote your Dream Trip Services. The easier road is to promote that you are the agent that can arrange “your dream trip and personal journey.” This of course becomes an FIT service just like the old days of Thomas Cook & Sons.
If not a world cruise, you can add something else. The key point is this: if you are spending good money on advertising, you should always use that add space to promote something a little more expensive than the usual low price point vacation. By promoting a product that carries a hefty price tag also lets your audience know that you can arrange such a vacation. If you continue to promote low priced products that factor will become your brand, your positioning statement. You are the cheapo agency. Not exactly the positioning you want and need unless that is your business building strategy. When you enter the Dream Trip segment you will also be faced with booking low and very low cost trips. The price of a dream is not always expensive.
Set Your Parameters Early It will serve you well to make known the level of dream trip that you arrange. No harm in stating $5,000 and up in your company overview. For some travellers, they have worked hard all their lives at low paying jobs and do not have the money to spend on a true luxury vacation worth thousands of dollars. This person’s dream trip may be to visit a long lost relative at the other end of the country and they have saved that $1,000 over many years to afford this trip. Others have dreamed of visiting Hawaii for instance and again have scrimped and saved in order to buy themselves that dream trip. These people’s dreams are some of the best trips to arrange. What you do not make in commission you make in personal experience and gratitude from the client. Turning Your Dream Trip into a Group There comes a time when you can turn your own dream trip and personal journey into a group departure, as you attract like-minded travellers to join you. At the same time your trip is funded by the group. Naturally you would have developed your own dream trip into a full scale itinerary, with dates, places, hotels, events etc., all lined up. With that data in place, you can now talk it up. You can now say, “Hey, I’m going to…. why don’t you join me?” Some companies would call this The President’s Tour, or similar title. You can say the same thing if you wish. The key point here is to play on the fact that the head of the agency is going on this tour. The role you take on is many fold. You are now the leader of the group, so you’d better know what it is you’ll be seeing and doing.
That also means when it comes time to get up and dance the dance that you are there without a shake of the head. When that strange meal appears in front of the group, you are the first to tuck in and show how tasty it is. You can never be the one that says, “Oh no… I don’t dance!” “Oh I could never eat that!” Be the leader you promote yourself to be and especially if this is YOUR dream trip. Promoting Someone Else’s Dream Trip Chances are, amongst your client base there is someone with a very interesting dream trip they would like to achieve. When you find that tid bit of information, ask them if you can build on it and form a group. The key point being, their costs would go down based on group rates. When your clients read that this tour is based on a fellow travellers desire, then chances are they will book. Also the friends of your initial dream trip couple will also book. Just a little creativity here and you can build a series of client-based dream tours. Go There First When arranging a high end dream tour, you should always travel the itinerary yourself, before promoting it. You never really want to sell a tour “cold” having never visited the country, area or route. If you do, it might turn out to be a one way ticket to litigation. Invest your time and money into developing the dream trip itinerary first hand and then you’ll be way ahead of the game. You can then promote with confidence. So, dream trips. Perhaps a new niche for you and your clients too. Start now and find out who has what dream trip in mind and when they want to go.
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By Steve Gillick
This was the ultimate trick question that Groucho Marx asked on his quiz show “You Bet Your Life”. Sometimes the answer actually stumped the contestant. But when we think about it, some things that seem to be blatantly obvious to some, don’t necessarily register with others. There is the famous cruise-related question where one of the guests asks the chef what he does with the ice sculptures after they’ve melted. And it’s hard for some of us to believe that in the “travel” industry, you have to have some knowledge of travel-related information: destinations, weather, climate, geography, time zones, languages, currency exchange rates, driving habits, culinary preferences, political situations, festivals and holidays, the people, the culture and even some history.
No one said that becoming a travel consultant was easy, but as in every profession, there are those who seem to have been born with the knowledge to succeed and others who have to study hard to acquire the knowledge. And then there are those who scrape by with minimum knowledge and a lot of price reductions and compensation offered for inconveniences the client suffered due to the consultant’s inadequacies: minimal personal travel experience, failure to research, disinterest in
reading the daily press about current issues that affect the industry; indifference in attending professional development webinars, seminars or conferences, disregard for free industry gems such as Selling Travel or one of the Gillick’s World destination publications, and the totally mistaken belief that the words “customer service” are in fact an oxymoron (a figure of speech in which the words seem to contradict each other). Can you believe it? What’s obvious to some, is lost to others.
And why does all that travel-related stuff matter? Well for starters, a destination is a dynamic entity with a pulse and personality all its own. In fact for some destinations the biggest challenge is to carve out a specific identity that differentiates them from others with similar features and attractions. Organizations such as the CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization) are active in putting together think-tanks on how to distinguish each of their 29 member countries while at the same time uniting them under the “one Caribbean” banner. It’s quite a challenge.
client sees value is to get to know the client. Where have they travelled before? What worked for them and what didn’t? What kind of price point do they put on their vacations? What kind of food, activities and ambiance do they like? Who do they travel with and what are the needs of those travelers (spouse, partner, kids, friends)? And then there is the magic wand question: “If you could wave a magic wand and go anywhere in the world and do anything you want to do…where would that be?” You will be surprised at the responses.
But once a country has identified its personality, ensured that all the travel and tourism components are on board, and that a marketing campaign is available and ready to start promoting, then it’s all a matter of follow-through for travel consultants to learn about the destination with their clients’ needs in mind.
• I love reading about Samurai Warriors and if I could I would want to go to Japan, visit some of the famous castles and have the opportunity to wear Samurai armour. Is this possible? Absolutely.
Client needs? Where did that come from? It’s all a matter of basic selling know-how. You learn of a client’s wants and needs and dreams by interviewing them—asking a lot of open-ended questions—and once you understand your client, then you can use your knowledge and experience to recommend the most suitable destinations that respond to those needs. It’s a pretty exciting idea that you—as a travel consultant—can open a map of the entire globe and recommend destinations that will wow your clients, surpass their expectations and add that one component that determines whether that client will ever want to use your services again: Value. Every client sees value in their own unique way and on their own unique terms. Therefore the only way to determine how a
• I want to visit Chile or Argentina and tour the vineyards but also have a one-onone session with one of the famous vintners and just talk about my love of wine and learn a bit of insider information from them. Is this possible? Absolutely. • I want to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I want to go to a private island, have my meals prepared by a 5 star chef and do nothing but enjoy the peaceful sound of the water and the wind. Oh and I would want to bring 24 friends with me. Is this possible? Absolutely (you can rent Sir Richard Branson’s British Virgin Island retreat, Necker Island, and have a blast!) One of the key ways to ensure that Value is the theme for every clients’ travels lies in the driving force behind successful travel consultants: Passion. Passion is that inner love for what you do. Passion drives you to think of your vocation as a career, as opposed to a job.
Passion drives you to want to stay up-to-speed with everything that relates to the destinations you currently sell, and drives you to want to look into other destinations that may be a great alternative for your clients. Passion is that endorphin-release that makes you want to get up in the morning and do what you love to do: Talk travel, Sell travel, Be Travel. The Travel industry is one amazing place to establish a career and grow with it. You can be a generalist and sell everything. You can be a specialist and hone in on your own personal loves whether its Chilean or French wine tours or Super Luxury African Safaris or Gourmet Cooking in India. The point is that once you understand and embrace the idea of travel as a totally attractive and enthralling concept then, as the expression goes, the world is your oyster. For those who want to dabble in travel; treat it like a part-time job that will allow them to get super-travel discounts and freebies for themselves and their friends, you need to think again. We are talking about a career that not only defines what you do but who you are. Sure there’s a lot of detail to acquire along the way but that’s the exciting challenge of immersing yourself in a passion-based career. “Travel” industry and “Travel Career” are not oxymorons. They are lifestyle choices. If you feel that tingle down your spine when you think of travel, then the world is calling you to get involved.
Oh, and by the way? The Grant’s Tomb question wasn’t such a silly question after all. Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia are not actually buried below ground at the Tomb so technically, no one is buried in Grant’s Tomb. Some blatantly obvious things are not so blatantly obvious after all!
Taking yourself to market is the key to building YOUR YOUNIVERSE. Got to know where you are going. Must ponder Branding YOU. Or Brand U as one good looking fella by the name of Cory Andrichuk would say and also show you how. Fact is you don’t really “get it” until after you leave travel school that your success is built around YOU. Sounds weird I know, but that’s the way we roll. Cannot hide behind anything or anyone else. It’s all YOU. Make it or break it, all YOU. So here’s where you learn about creating the YOUNIVERSE you wish to sell in.
Once you leave travel school and head out into the big wide world, no matter your age there will be a slight shock to the system waiting for you around the first bend. Let me assume you are going to go for it. You are going to focus on selling enough travel to warrant your dear self an income of thirty to sixty thousand dollars a year. When I mention those salary / income amounts some TAs attack and tell me no way can anyone generate that kind of income. I am then often reminded that this is a low paying / earning industry. Well I have no answer to that other than, “Wrong!” It’s all in how you get down to doing business. What Does Your YOUniverse Look Like? It’s important to visualize your world. The world you wish to sell to and sell in. You need to develop your world, your YOUniverse as we call it. Will your world be filled with all things social or will you go retro? You Verses The Rest Whatever you put out there, must, should, beat out the competition. You’ll need to stand taller than the rest, be better than the best. This means, video, presentations, and much slicker emails and a fabulous website where your prospects will surely go. You’ll need to complete a competitive study and make sure you surpass the best.
Never Let Your Yin Yang Clang If you follow the path of simplicity, and harmony then you will know about the Yin Yang symbol. Light / dark, hard / soft, expensive / cheap… where do you fit on the Yin Yang scale? Whatever it is, be sure to maintain the brand. That Brand U that Cory talks about, can splinter if you go against the branding you create. You cannot be all things to all travellers. If you try, your brand will surely cause some sparks and that’s when your Yin Yang will clang. Steps to Your YOUniverse 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.
Decide your product / destination Decide your client profile Decide your marketing approach Plan your marketing plan Commit to being best Always deliver 100% Ride the social media wave Produce videos that are tops Host consumer events Start a blog or talk show or e-magazine Ask for the booking every time Look like the professional you say you are and support it with an excellent head & shoulders photograph. 13. Start a niche market if you have the knowledge and the skills.
Also create a winning logo. Let it be of the times and appeal to the client profile you want to attract. Now, when ready, start marketing YOUR YOUNIVERSE.
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Hereâ€™s where you find even more ideas on how to sell travel and boost your revenues. Ct is the destination information and how-to-sell trade magazine for travel agents and every article I write is always geared to new business generation for YOU and your suppliers. The content ranges from a step-by-step how-to article to a comment about a current topic. Many of the articles are worth reviewing with your suppliers should you be able to work together to generate that new dollar for all. Click here to read.
No other travel speaker / trainer has written and published more articles, e-Books, and magazines on new business generation for travel agents than Steve. With well over 375 published articles in CT, 20+ E-Books and 50 issues of Selling Travel, he has given you a source of timely and cutting edge tips, tools and techniques to help you sell more travel.
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