THE E-MAGAZINE THAT FOCUSES ON THE REALITY OF SELLING TRAVEL
PLUS The O&M The EDGE The Frontline The BDM
In this issue EDITORIAL
You know that old saying about planning don’t you? It’s old and done to death as so many of the ‘old’ sayings are – however the essence of these sayings still hold true. Planning for business growth has never gone out of style. Although some self‐made millionaires can boast they never had a plan – just don’t bank on it for your own business. In this month’s issue of Selling Travel we do focus on that 2012 business plan and hopefully so will you. I’ve changed that saying by the way to this: “IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN ‐ YOU AIN’T GOT NO PLAN!” Basic and to the point as always. Other topics will guide you in terms of DIY FAM trips and we offer another closing technique too. Don’t forget, if you need help with anything you see in Selling Travel I am as close as your email or Skype button.
Best regards, Steve Crowhurst, CTM Publisher www.smptraining.com firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: smptraining1 T: 250‐752‐0106 CHECK FOR WEBINARS HERE
THE O&M – Making Accountability Count THE FRONTLINE – The ART of the FIRST Photo THE EDGE – What’s Going On? YOUR 2012 BUSINESS PLAN – Ideas and Steps GRAPH YOUR PLAN GOAL (D) MINE THE NEW ADVERTISING – Turning Service into PR DIY FAM TRIPS – Book’m Yourself Danno CLOSING THE SALE 5 – The Emotional Close GOING HOME BASED – Things To Think About RECOVERY SELLING – Sri Lanka by Steve Gillick THE EXTREME BDM – The Wizard of Ads FROM THE BOOK – LED Displays PRODUCTS & SERVICES – SMP Support Resources. BACKPAGE COMMENT – Something to think about
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 anyway monetized. Using any images or content from Selling Travel must be sourced as follows: “Copyright SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com” SMP Training Co. 568 Country Club Drive, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada V9K 1G1
Dear Reader: Well who has their crystal ball plugged in? Anyone? I want to know where we’re at re the end of the world thingy. Supposed to be May 21st 2012 or around that date. If this is true then it’s a great time to be selling travel insurance and one‐way airfares. Even one‐way insurance if it’s available. How about cruises to nowhere? So much opportunity when the chips are down, eh? Whatever is planned for us in the coming year we should at least learn to drop, cover and hold on. If nothing happens and all this chatter and buzz about the end of the world was a viral joke then you, them, me and us had better have a plan to go forward. That how‐to‐plan guide can be found in this issue. Your business plan should no doubt focus on sales, plus how you intend to sell less and profit more. So less work, more pay and more play. Now that’s a decent goal to go for. You may wish to establish yourself further up the management ladder and that’s an excellent target. Takes guts and perseverance and of course very careful planning. Don’t forget to plan for challenges and that means economic challenges which in turn could affect your clients buying power. Be ready with at least a few months of salary stashed away as a recovery fund or business continuation fund so that you can survive until the cash starts to flow once more. This is one of the first action items for your 2012 plan. Right, with that, it’s time for you to get stuck into your planning session. Hope you arrive at the target you most desire and structure a plan that will pay you handsomely. Keep an eye on what SMP Training brings to your table each month through webinars, articles and workshops. It’s all there to help you boost your sales and revenue.
Steve Crowhurst Author, Trainer, Columnist, Keynote Speaker, Publisher and world traveller. Just back from speaking for 2‐days at the Aboriginal Tourism Conference. Delivered eight different workshops – my first time ever to present that many at one conference and all different topics. Just proves that there is always something to learn! In each issue of Selling Travel magazine, one thing I try to do is mix and match text fonts, colours, images, clip art etc., so that you can see first hand what you might like to use or not. If there is something visual here that you don’t like, doesn’t appeal to you, ask yourself why. Learn from what puts you off and make sure you don’t send similar combinations to your clients.
How’s your teamwork coming along? Everyone on the same page? To use a metaphor ‐ would you trust your team enough to go on a climbing expedition with them? To be dangling at the end of a nylon rope belayed by your team? Trust? Accountability? Trust is a huge factor when it comes to letting your team get on with closing the sales that you hired them to close. Make sure you have your KPIs/KPOs in place as Key Performance Indicators and Objectives go a long way to frontline accountability as does your Performance Management activities. For some owners & managers sitting opposite your “rainmaker” to chat about their revenue contribution and how it should increase or put on the table that your top producer is slacking off when it comes to being accountable for their actions (delivering below best of service, selling away from preferred suppliers or not attending skill‐up workshops) – well this is a situation where if you don’t make them accountable then your actions are suspect too. When it comes to selling travel, accountability must be demonstrated by the top brass, the owner, manager, the suits in the corner office and of course, each and every member of the frontline sales team. Only then would you feel comfortable going on that climbing expedition or, stepping out for a latte, leaving the sales responsibility in the hands of your hired guns. If you do not yet have your sales KPOs and KPIs in place you may want to wander over to www.kpidashboard.com ‐ it’s worth a look and if not for you, you might then conduct a search for more information on KPOs/KPIs. The art of Selling Travel is multi faceted as you know. So much to know, to learn, to implement and the groundwork can actually be done by your sales team. Turn the KPI/KPO/accountability project over to them and they might surprise you with what they place on your desk and don’t be surprised if you have to invest a little more of yourself too. Back to the climbing experience – find a local climbing wall and get the team roped up. Amazing things can happen during these events. Trust being one and accountability a quick second. Logo Font: Mandingo
HEY GREAT NEWS! Pretty soon you will be able to access my workshops, e‐Books, whitepapers and webinars through The Travel Institute’s Professional Educators Program. It’s taken me a long time to access the US market and I’ve knocked on more than a few doors – but then as always if you keep working at it, out of the blue comes that silver lining. The Travel Institute embody the same things I do – they go for it. I received a call, an email and an application and within ten days, we’re in business. So thanks to the team at The Travel Institute and I look forward to bringing my A‐Game to your members.
ONE DAY WITH ME AND YOU’LL NEED A WEEK TO RECOVER! BUT HEY! BRING THIS IN HOUSE. BE FIRST. GIVE YOUR TEAM THE EDGE THEY NEED.
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO BLOW YOUR SOCKS OFF? WELL HERE IT IS! A FULL DAY OF CUTTING EDGE MARKETING IDEAS, TIPS ‘N’ TOOLS FOR TRAVEL AGENTS.
HERE’S THE SCENARIO… Mrs. Allchange has just purchased her dream vacation from you. She is beside herself with joy and ecstatic that she has finally managed to book her trip. She plans on telling all her friends!
Well now, this is a perfect time to whip out your camera, or smart phone and shoot your client! Well not exactly, that’s photographer speak – what you will do is ask your client or preferably suggest this “Why don’t we take a picture of you as I hand you your travel documents… this would be the first photo in your trip album…” Think promotional opportunity as you choose the best place to shoot the shot. If you have an agency logo on one of your walls, that would be the best background for your shot. If no logo on the wall, then you could, weather permitting, shoot the shot outside your agency with the agency signage in the shot. You have other options too. Best idea is to print the photo so that you can hand it or send it to your client, who can then show it to her friends. Now, before you print the photograph, you can also add text to it such as “Safe travels… see you when you return. Love and hugs… your travel agent.” No doubt your image will be digital and this presents a few more opportunities, if you suggest them. Frontline Font: PlazaPUit
This photograph is yours to use as long as your client has given you his or her permission that you can use her image for promotional purposes. With that agreement and it should be signed and you only need a one‐liner (not a 50 page legal document) now you and your agency owner / manager can use this image to promote your agency and of course yourself. What to do with this image? Assuming everyone in the photo is looking good, smiling and it’s not blurred – then you have something to Facebook, Tweet, post on your agency website and blog about. What’s the story? The story for this customer is that she finally booked her dream trip, and here’s the kicker, with YOU. You where the travel counsellor who help Mrs. Allchange realize her dream trip. This is not small stuff – this is BIG stuff. It’s what other clients and non‐clients (yet) are wanting and by promoting yourself as the travel counsellor who can make travel dreams come true, you will attract others who want the same service. Your next step is to work on your photographic skills, where to shoot the shots, how to add text to the image and how to present the final image to your customers. The first photo is as suggested, the very first image to be shown friends and family when your client recounts her dream trip. Now you’re a star!
THE EDGE IS: KNOWING WHAT’S GOING ON AND WHAT HAS GONE ON AROUND THE WORLD. THE DATE IS the 16th century. A time of unprecedented change. The beginning of the modern era of science, a time of maps, exploration, religious and political upheaval. This is a time of great opportunity for you. As a home based agent and independent of all things red tape and ivory tower, you are free to decide what YOU want to sell. Whether you are keen on the 16th century or any other century, the idea here is to look for iconic dates and anniversaries that are related to the special niche or travel passion you have. Special dates can range from fun events to morbid. With the last of the World War 1 soldiers passing away there are still many families wanting to know what great granddad did and where he did it. Same for World War 2 – sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters also want to know where father or granddad spent WW2. My own father for instance spent five years in a POW camp in what was then German occupied Poland. Visiting that location is still high on my list. WW2 dates and events are not restricted to men – there were many, many women who survived or gave their life in WW2 Europe and elsewhere. More recent dates such as 9/11 and 7/7 and dates of massive earthquakes and tsunamis are dates when people would like to see the recovery that has occurred. There are more joyful dates too for events that happened and have been recorded. To stand where something of interest happened can be a lifetime dream. The Edge Font: Baby Kruffy
I’m looking for real‐time challenges that stop you from being the best you can be. Be sure to include your email and website links. Thanks! The golden days of Hollywood held a fascination for my dear ole Mum. When she finally visited my wife and I we went off to LA and to Grauman's Chinese Theatre where Mum knelt on the sidewalk to put her hands in the concrete where Clark Gable’s hands had actually been locked in cement on January 20, 1937. Now, if this was an anniversary you wanted to promote and sell then you would put together a group and head down to LA to be on the sidewalk January 20th 2012 – which would be the 75th anniversary of Ceremony #33 that Clark Gable attended. So you get the idea. Now, what dates and anniversaries are there waiting for you to research and get the edge on everyone else? Thinking about your own travel passion first. Start researching and look for a couple of fantastic events that you can package. Next, you can go more mainstream, more current and look for dates and events that might work for a younger generation. Most certainly many people will want to visit the grave site of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, when it is finally disclosed. Whether centuries past or just last week, dates, events and special anniversaries are a niche market for an independent agent who can decide, “I like that and I am going to sell it!” Get the edge each month. Right here!
It doesn’t matter which segment of the trade you are in, NOW is the time to ponder your 2012 Business Plan and how you are going to prosper next year. This step‐by‐step guide will help you get there. It’s basic. No fluff. Street smart and sales savvy. If you’re a “wait’n’wing” it person… well, best of luck then. It’s a pain in the brain I know, but it’s a job worth doing, planning that is. It should make you think about your business, the direction you are going, where the competition is going, where your host, consortium or franchise head office is going and where your preferred suppliers are going. Then there’s the Canadian economy, the world economy and let’s throw in there world events known and yet to happen, plus we should add a dash of weather, global warming, acts of terror and well we can stop there. That should be enough to work with. Whoops, almost forgot the customer!! How could that happen? Got carried away with everything external, almost left the main internal ingredient at the station. Did it again! What about the agency team? Better include them in the planning too. START HERE: Existing Customers Everyone knows that their existing customers are the lifeblood of their business – few owners, managers and consultants however reach out on a regular basis to build the relationship towards friendship. This is something that must be worked into the overall plan. It is very important to say “hi”, touch base and to exchange information. You should work hard to collect as much information about your existing clients as you can. Profile them. Check their travel history. Look for new products you can promote to them. Find out about any changes in their lives that present a new opportunities for you. Agency Team: It’s a new year. Things change. New knowledge is required. Review your team and find out their knowledge needs. They must be able to support your 2012 plan.
The Art of Planning Planning is every bit an art in itself and it has changed from the ‘good old days’ that many might be holding onto. Today you can purchase business planning software and perhaps even find free applications somewhere on your provincial small business websites. Once you find that business planning program the work and the fun can start and you must start with your next years goal in mind. The question here then is how much do you wish to grow by. Don’t ponder this too long. It’s a simple question, assuming you wish to grow you business that is. If you wrote let’s say $100,000 in revenue last year do you intend to boost your sales by 5%? If so, you must translate that percentage into a revenue figure (always do this). That 5% would translate into an additional $5,000 in revenue. Some like to calculate what that means in terms of sales. So make this calculation, you will need to know your average commission rate. Let’s go with 11%. Which means you’ll need to close an additional $46,000 +/‐ in sales. Next question: Where will this increase in sales come from? Which and what will you decide to focus sell and grow by $5,000? Will it be cruising or tours, or your own niche tours? How will you generate your planned for growth? That’s for you to ponder. The Repeat What We Did Last Year Plan Each year you start off with zero sales. You might have some bookings flowing into the new year, but by and large, you generate your sales all over again. Because 200 clients booked with you last year, does not mean that same business will return this year. You cannot repeat exactly what you did last year.
IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN…
YOU AIN’T GOT NO PLAN!!
You can however get close to it. To do this, you must review your marketing activity, what was happening during the year in terms of weather patterns, supplier promotions and take a good look at last years over all performance. It’s possible that seasons have changed, the good weather might come earlier this year and so on. These are factors agency owners tend to miss. Today there is an economic shuffle going on, the planet seems to be shaking more than usual, the hurricanes are stronger, the ring of fire is on fire and so on. So much to consider but well worth it. Next you’ll want to study your BSP reports and your own internal reports to analyze where people in your province went and when, and then compare your own reports to masses. Was there growth in Canadians going to South America for instance? Did you miss out on this? Do you want to attract any of those travellers? How about Europe? Check the statistics on CLIA’s website and find our how many Canadians cruised last year, then check the provincial count. Now calculate your percentage of cruise sales against the number of people cruising from your province. What percentage did you sell? Any room for growth? Could you capture more? How many of your clients are likely to repeat what they did last year, this year. One way to study next years potential is to make contact with your clients and ask them in a survey, by email, or by telephone and always when face to face. You say, “We’re conducting a 2012 travel survey and would really appreciate your help… could you tell us if you are thinking about or planning a vacation in 2012 and if so, where do you plan on going and when…?” The answers, thinking and planning, so let’s rate those 30% chance for thinking and 60% chance for planning. You should have the destination or type of trip plus the month of travel. Yes it’s all up for grabs but most of this information is good information. Now you can plot the potential using MS Excel and create a 2012 graph of this information. It will show two lines, one for the 30% chance and one for the 60% chance. You can also combine all this data and graph the totals. This would give you a “What if” projection. Now you can start to plan how you will market your agency, your self, your services and your offers. Your marketing plan must drive the customer to call.
The Dream Trip Question Whenever you survey your clients, always include the dream trip question. It goes something line this: “If money and time were not a concern what would be your dream trip? Where would you like to go, what have you dreamed of doing” Many times people do not realize their dream trip is as close as tomorrow and also very affordable. Some dream trips are simply to visit Hawaii, other dreams are trekking somewhere, to look upon Mt. Everest, to have their picture taken in front of the Taj Mahal, to white water, to visit an ancestral place, take a religious tour and naturally…to go on a world cruise. Not one of those dream trips are out of reach and no one needs to wait until they retire. Get your dream trip started and work it until you have delivered on making everyone’s dream come true. The New Customer Plan At this stage you have reviewed and graphed past sales and you have also learned from your existing clients where they might want to go in 2012 and what their dream trip is. Now it’s time to plan for attracting additional clients to do business with you. Here you think about who you want, and the type of vacations you want to sell. You might include corporate travel, you might want to attract more groups, start a new niche. Here’s where you think and plan your new ideas. The Marketing Plan Let’s suggest that some of your 2011 clients will repeat in 2012, plus some of your 2010 clients will repeat in 2012 also. Overall you are expecting a pretty good revenue flow – however although all expenses might be covered, there is no profit. You’ll need to attract new customers. More boomers and or younger travellers. How young? Think on it. The so called Gen X’es are in their 40’s – not exactly young as in those potential customers in their mid 20’s. Depending upon your targeted new clients, you’ll need to adapt your marketing activities. Going for the twenty‐somethings will mean having more social media in your plan.
2012 BUSINESS PLAN STEPS Where are you now? Here you write a detailed analysis, outlining each of the items below as they are now: 1. Your sales and revenue economic situation. 2. Your technological situation. 3. The current social and cultural situation. 4. Any and all media environments, strategies. 5. Staffing situations. 6. Supplier relationships. 7. Head office, host, consortium relationships. 8. Local and overseas situations (economic, political, weather)
Vision and Mission Statements These statements are purely internal. They are created to drive your agency in the right direction. Check your vision statement to make sure it is still valid. Same for your Mission Statement. A good mission statement captures the purpose of your agency. The vision statement sets out a direction and where your agency is headed.
What Are You Offering? Review what it is you are actually offering. Are you cheap, expensive, middle of the road, serving everything to everyone? What are planning on offering in 2012?
Current Customers Understand who your existing customers are, what they want from you and what they want from you in 2012. Most customers have moved from ‘service’ to an experience – are you delivering? How will you deliver on building those relationships into friendships?
Value What value are you offering? What’s your value proposition? What would customers do business with you in 2012? What will set you apart from the rest in 2012?
Competition Do you have competition? Do you care? Are YOU the competition? Decide which and then either look forward and set the mark for all to follow or, if not quite that confident, check what your competitors are doing, analyze it and use the information wisely.
Positioning Where and how are you positioned in the current marketplace? How do you want to be positioned in 2012? How are you thought of now? What will you do to be perceived differently in 2012? What marketing will you apply to make these changes?
The SWOT Analysis This is time consuming but also enlightening. Complete a full and detailed SWOT analysis on your agency and discover your Strengths, Weaknesses, the Opportunities open to you and the potential Threats that might prevent your plan being fulfilled. For more information of SWOT Analysis – Google the term or research on Wikipedia. There are plenty of SWOT based websites to explore.
Critical Issues Your SWOT analysis should, but not always, reveal the issues that are critical to your success in 2012. A critical issue might be to engage younger customers, or to hire new staff well educated in social media.
The Keys to Success Determine what these keys are and plan for them. Will you need to change locations, sell more cruises, more insurance, increase your service fees? Decide on your product, pricing and promotional activities.
Where Do You Want To Be Year End 2012? Here’s the goal you need to write and then plan for. This plan will include everyone working with you and for you. Try to make this a team event. Get everyone’s buy‐in and commitment.
Trends You should make a study of the trends announced by your preferred suppliers, your technology providers and any industry guru you can read / listen to. Take it all in and then decide which trends you should pay attention to. Do not be swayed by the term “fastest growing” – this is a well used term in the industry and you could be conned into going in the wrong direction.
Marketing Strategy This is the strategy that should deliver on the promotion of your business, your team, your offers, your service and cause new customers to make contact with you.
Sales Strategy Once the marketing strategy is up and running and potential clients are making contact, your sales strategy should click in. The idea behind your sales strategy is to close more sales than last year, up‐sell, cross‐sell, upgrade, ask for referrals etc. These outcomes will not happen unless your sales team have been well trained and have practiced over and over again.
Sales and Marketing Budget First things first – complete your expenses budget. Do not and never under estimate the power of this exercise. Aim for actual costs versus off the cuff. Once you have the total cost of running your agency for 2012 – now you can plan the sales and revenue required, where the revenue is coming from and how you intend to get it. You will know your breakeven figures and you will know the profit you desire. Simple stuff – all you have to do now is… make it happen. That means follow the plan. Plot each and every month by sales type, air, hotel, tour etc., and increase the sales and revenue by your budgeted amount. Now you plan your marketing and promotional activities, and when you should engage these activities so that the payoff meets your plan. Create a graph / chart of your plan and commit to the time lines required.
The Look Back Chart Here’s where you graph your sales and revenue history for at least 5 to 10 years. When you do this, you will be looking at a true representation of your business. Believe it or not every business forms a pattern. That pattern is based on where you are located, what you sell, who you sell it too, when they buy etc. Over time the DNA of your business is formed. It will become very clear to you once you graph those 5 to 10 years of history.
If the above graph represented your existing agency then you would be expecting the same peaks and valleys shown here, in 2012. Subject to whether or not you market the same products to the same data base. This graph shows clearly a lack of sales in the summer period and that should be a red alert suggesting you have time now, with two months to go before 2012 arrives to plan your marketing activities that will help you close more sales in those low revenue producing months. Or you could take an extended vacation during those months. Your call! Revenue Graphs It’s always a good idea to review your revenue graph for the current year. You’ll plot the overall earned revenue breakdown and once that is done you can graph your revenue intake month by month. Next you should graph your revenue by agent x month. This graph offers you the chance to check how each agent performs over the same period.
Knowing each agents production capability allows you to plan ahead and train the low producers.
This is how your revenue graph for 2011 should look. When you graph your revenue you will be able to get a clear image of where your money comes from.
To make your 2012 plan a success you’ll need to establish the goals for the agency, for your team and for yourself. Do this well and your goals will turn into gold! Yes they will. Believe it. When passion and plan come together, the usual result is success. Passion without a plan is going to suck wind. A plan without the drive to make it happen, is just a plan. Once you have written your 2012 plan you will assess each member of your team and decide who is going to contribute what and how they will make that happen. You will need to listen to your team and get their ideas and input too. Then you establish criteria for each person’s goals and objectives. You’ll need a measurement for success. That can be the number of bookings or passengers they close, the amount of insurance they sell, however overall you looking for revenue contribution. You may not care how it arrives and where it comes from – all you want at the end of the day is profit. On the other hand, you may have committed to selling ‘X’ number of cruises to fulfill your obligation to the cruise program created by your consortium. In this case you will certainly need to structure a plan that sets a cruise sales goal for each agent. Here’s how your graphed plan might look for each of four members of your sales team. It’s easy to spot their seasonal selling strengths.
The Revenue to Salary Graph Your planning must consider the return on revenue for 2012. Before you set your teams goals, you’ll need to check whether or not they can deliver or better, if they have delivered in the past. The expectation at minimum is 3 times their salary in revenue. If you are paying someone $30,000 a year, then you’ll require a minimum return of $90,000 in commission revenue.
Share The Gold Plan If all goes as planned then you should be realizing a decent profit. If this happens, will you share some of your profit with your ream and if so how much? Let’s go with sharing of 10%. You profit by $50,000 after expenses and so you now have $5,000 to share with your team. You can divide this amount by four or you could calculate each agents percentage of contribution and share the $5,000 accordingly. This works if each person is selling the same products, and there are no restrictions on what they sell. However if one person is only selling low cost travel and another is selling world cruises there will be a disconnect. Team Goals and Going for Gold As mentioned, get your team together. Get there input, have the team set the goals and the amount of gold they want for themselves. Generally when someone has the chance to say what they will do – they’ll do it and then some. When ordered to do it, something gets lost in translation – such as the goal and the gold. Look for goal planning software online if you do not have it in house. Now it’s your turn to Go For Gold!
Whether you know it or not something is always advertising you. Many agencies today have turned to their customer service model as their basic PR strategy. Other agencies have looked to their niche markets and specialty services as a form of next level marketing and advertising push. The customer as you know is high on the list as a source of advertising which would culminate in referrals and viral messaging. So, the question for you here is this: what are you planning for 2012? How will you engage these new forms of advertising? Can you UP your service, start a new niche?
If, through your level of DAZZLING service, you can capture the hearts and minds of your clients you will eventually be creating an army of BRAND CHAMPIONS, people who love what you do for them and are willing to tell others. Call it word of mouth, referrals, ambassadorship, or call it the new advertising. Add the word strategy and that means you must now plan this new promotional format. This is actually one of those ‘coming round again’ situations. If you’ve been in the travel business for some time you already know about servicing your client to the point of instant referrals. It just happens. Today however we have more tools at our disposal to help push the message out. Proven many times is the power of service over price which is followed by convenience over price. Take care of these two issues for your clients and they will be advertising you to everyone they meet and boasting about you at the next party.
The Customer Service PR Strategy Time to put pen to paper. Time to sketch out this new PR program. This is all about how you treat your customer and what you do for them and then how you help your customer talk about you PLUS how you take what your customer says about you and promote it to a wider audience. That wider audience should be thinking, “I want that too!” and make the call to you. PR stands for Public Relations. It means managing the relationship you have with your customers. You’ve heard of CRM – Customer Relationship Management – same thing. The goal behind your PR strategy is to deliver on the clients needs so well that they will talk about you. Additionally, your PR strategy should include how you will stay in touch with your customers even when they do not travel. It includes your bon voyage activities and you intend to follow up after they return. Scheduling No plan or strategy can work by itself. It needs to be implemented and it needs to be scheduled. You’ll need to write the ‘playbook’ for the entire agency team to read and digest. Each month you schedule a PR activity – could be birthday cards, could be generic postcards, coupons, small gifts, invitations, advance notice of a special price a supplier is about to launch, a new destination – or, it could simply be you staying in touch and asking, “How are you doing?” Check to see if service can be your new PR campaign. Discuss how you can attract your clients to become your Brand Champions and promote you to their friends.
DO IT YOURSELF FAM TRIPS What goes around comes around. Back in the day you could write your own tickets, add a code, take off and go see what you were selling. Did I mention that was free? Today, sheesh wouldn’t ya know it, you have to sell something in order to go taste what you sold. Well, be thankful it’s not full rate. You have to say that being able to travel at such low costs is worth it. Next question is, what are you doing with this wonderful perk? Are you taking advantage of low fares and many times free rooms to build your destination and supplier knowledge so that you can sell more travel? Better write your Fam Plan now. Today there is no need to wait for a supplier to wave their FAM ON flag as you can pretty much design your own Fam and then get travelling. You should do this with purpose, if not, then let’s call this trip a vacation. A Fam should be leading towards more sales. A Fam should give you further insight as to how to sell this or that destination. If you are booking with a preferred supplier to experience their flight, or their cruise product, hotel or resort then you’ll asking for onsite training to, once again, help you boost your sales when you return home. There are Fam websites for you to explore too. For a few dollars a month you can subscribe to www.famnews.com and receive their listings. Another would be www.famconnection.com and one more, www.famrates.com. How easy is that? It looks like the work is all done for you. All you have to do is book and go, come back and sell.
When you plan your fam trip you should first consider the marketing plan of your agency and then go see what the agency owner / manager is planning to promote. Once you have that information under your belt you can focus on personal fam‐vacations and specialty Fams that feed your niche market and passion – all of which could and should be turned in to new business for you and your agency. Your Fam trip reports are now the base content for you to write an e‐book, a digital travel guide and sell it online. Same for your video footage. So, when you are planning those DIY Fams, think financial return and plan accordingly. If you shoot exceptional footage, still images and have a way with words, well your suppliers might want to purchase this content from you. Same for travel magazines. You can also sell your works off your own agency website. So, where to and when?
THE EMOTION CLOSE There’s no emotion in selling travel is there? How about from the customer’s point of view? Any emotion there? Well the short answer is Yes and Yes. Plenty of emotion running around here and it’s all good. Well it’s all good if the customer gets what they want. If not, then there’s a fair bit of pouting and sulking going on and this can lead to up‐selling and cross‐selling and a list of suggestions to that the customer can travel to their dream destination as they want to.
Ah, the good old Emotion Close. Sometimes you must incite the emotion, other times it’s sitting right there across from you or loud and clear in your earpiece. To incite emotion means you should be exuding the passion for this customer’s trip. “WOW! This is going to be a fantastic trip!” Saying that would set the scene. Conversely you can initiate positive negative emotion by using the now or never close in combination which goes like this: “I know you want this vacation, but it has to be booked now…” Steve Gillick, COO of CITC often quotes the phrase Infectious Enthusiasm and that’s exactly what the Emotional Close is all about. You build the client up to such an emotional high that they just have to have what they have always dreamed of – that once in a lifetime trip. Your customer should be saying, “Yes! Yes!” and the customer in the other seat should be saying, “I’ll have what she’s having!”
The Principal Behind The Technique Play to the customer’s emotions, evoking specific emotions of excitement, interest, concern. Find if they respond more to positive or negative emotions and act accordingly. If in doubt (?) go for positive emotions, these are usually better.
You might say it like this: q q
“That hotel is luxurious… I’m know you’ll feel wonderful when you get there…” “I have to tell you, today is the day if you want those flights… they do sell out so quickly and I have a feeling you’d be very upset if you left it until tomorrow and they were sold out…”
How it works The Emotion Close works because all decisions are based on emotions. Even if you go through a logical thought process, the final step is always emotional.
Now you practice until you can use this technique and apply it in all situations.
There’s a lot of choice when it comes to who you are going home with. The host groups are based in Canada, the USA, the UK and even locally, and just round the block to where you live. Attracting home based agents is now big business with many major agency chains and brands also entering the market.
GOING HOME-BASED I have to say, if I was starting over and starting now and I had the same passion I had when I started, I’d be going home‐based in a New York minute. Even faster! I’ve owned and operated travel agencies, and worked for chain agencies too – working frontline to senior management. Between then and now I have also been home‐based for 19 years and have a deep understanding of what it takes to run a successful home‐based business. It’s not for everyone. Although you may feel the urge to go it alone and go home to make it happen – it can be one of those “beware of what you ask for – you might get it” situations. For those who strive for structure and well entrenched systems will find doing it all yourself, alone, is a tough road to haul. On the other hand for the individual that has a multiple of talents and skill sets ranging from marketing, sales, accounting, advertising, designing slogans, social media strategies and a most crucial skill in time & self management – going home would be the best of all worlds. Management to Front Line and Vice Versa Before you go home, you’ll need to take stock of your skills to do so. Owners and managers sometimes forget they have a support team. They have “people”. Going home means adding, well let’s see, about four more jobs to your workload you’ve not been used to for the last 15 years. For frontline going home, if you have never managed a travel agency, or created a business / marketing plan, structured a budget or made hardcore sales calls… well, you’ll be in for a big surprise come month 4 when the sales funnel is empty. Who To Host With Okay, relax. Let’s put the support mechanism in place and we’ll call it a host agency / group. The role of OSRs has been a long standing sales strategy in the retail trade. Today this term has changed to be home‐based agent, mobile agent, virtual agent, independent agent and I am sure there are more to be invented as the business opportunity continues to grow. The agency or group you host with can be a small local firm or a major chain operating a home‐based division.
Before you go home, you must complete your due diligence on any and all host agencies in your country. You’ll have your preferred supplier BDMs to check with as to who is operating a quality hosting service. After that you’ll be checking who offers what you want and need. The concept of going home based is this: you sell and service and the host agency does the rest. Now, ‘the rest’ can be interpreted as ticket / document issuance, group departures, marketing tools and special rates – plus a whole lot more. It all sounds good, but is it all you want and need? Today, you’ll need a quality website and you’ll want it maintained, serviced and updated. It should play video, offer a store, shopping cart, PayPal or similar, a booking engine, e‐brochures, audio files, a variety of smartphone downloads and it should allow you to make changes at least to the home page. Your host should also be way ahead of the competition in their use of social media marketing. These things, the website and social communication are expected and what you want is to deliver above what’s expected. Your host should also be able to supply you with business planning software, trending information, stats and facts about travel out of your area, the best in training and hopefully support for your niche and travel passion. If you have a well developed niche market and produce your own tours, then your host agency should be able to market your tours across the entire home‐based network. A host agency is only as good as the quality of input from it’s HBAs. There should be an “owners association” that you can join or president – these associations are in place to keep the host agency ‘honest’ and on the cutting edge of support and service. If the host agency you are looking at does not have an established owner’s association – ask the hard questions starting with “Why?” Secure Data You’ll want to know your files and client information is stored securely. If not, your neck is in the noose. Your home computer should also be passworded to the hilt and wired versus wireless. Lifestyle And finally, what kind of lifestyle are you looking for? The home‐based agent lifestyle if you do it right, will deliver to you a fabulous career. You can make the money you need, you can travel where you want to go, write travel books, video your travels, host talk shows, use any and all online tools and cruise the world with your groups. This of course means working full time not being a lawyer during the day and a travel agent at night. Go pro and help build the home‐based travel industry to the level it deserves.
Steve Gillick, CTM email@example.com
Many of us are familiar with the expression “You scratch my back. I’ll scratch yours”. It is mostly used in the context of ‘let’s cooperate; let’s work together; let’s strive for a win‐ win situation. If you help me, I will help you‘. Within the context of travel sales and with the perspective on global trials and tribulations, nothing could represent a more accurate guideline to success than the back‐scratch scenario. The relationship of the travel destination with the travel seller (travel counsellor/ travel agent/travel consultant etc) is a key factor in this success. TRAVEL INTELLIGENCE Lists of top travel destinations for 2011‐2012 that appear in travel magazines, e‐zines and guide books, usually include Sri Lanka. It is a relatively small teardrop shaped island just off the southern tip of India but it packs a wallop in terms of the rich history, culture, UNESCO sites, culinary appeal and the friendly engagement between locals and visitors. However the very mention of the country usually evokes one of two thoughts. We think of the civil strife that took place in Sri Lanka between the Tamil Tigers and the government forces, the violence and loss of life than ensued and the idea that the country may still be unsafe for tourism. Or we think of the tsunami that struck many nations bordering on or located in the Indian Ocean, and the photos of destruction, loss of life and dreams shattered that the media were quick to publish in the days following the tragedy. And while the tsunami struck in December 2004, some think, seven years later, that the country may still be unsafe or not fully recovered enough to embrace tourism. And if we were to add a third ‘concern’ we may have heard of the incidents of ‘grease devils’ in some small Sri Lankan towns in the Fall of 2011, where robberies, murder and instances of superstitious villagers taking justice into their own hands, resulted in news coverage of the vigilantism, (primarily on the BBC) and some people were given the impression that the specter of violence was once again appearing throughout the country.
Now jump ahead to the year 2011, when your client tells you they have heard wonderful things about travel to Sri Lanka, and you repeat some rumours you heard or read about in the newspaper or on television, and you try to talk the client out of their Sri Lanka dreams. The client will react in one of two ways. They will either believe you—as after all, you are the travel professional; the ‘expert’ if you will, whose career, reputation and take‐home pay depends on your knowledge of global destinations. Or the client will walk out of your agency and tell ten friends how ignorant you are of current events and that your agency should be avoided for any future travel plans. They may even be so turned off that they try booking on the internet! The term ‘travel intelligence’ is used specifically to identify government and other learned travel reports, travel warnings and travel advice. Successful sales skills are a reflection of the holistic knowledge and confidence you have about a destination. You get this from honing up on travel intelligence and being able to speak about a destination or ‘counsel’ your clients about travel to a destination, from that knowledge perspective. Therefore, whether we want to indulge in word games or not, your ‘travel intelligence’ has everything to do with selling a destination such as Sri Lanka. Know your geography of the country. Maps are ideal sales tools and are readily available on the internet. When a client expresses a concern (in sales lingo, we refer to resolvable concerns as ‘objections’) then you can call up the map on your monitor, trace the itinerary that the client wishes to follow and see if it intersects with any of the problem areas about which they may be concerned. Know your travel reports. Selling a destination that is under a travel advisory is fraught with problems, especially when it comes to insurance companies refusing coverage for a client who proceeds with travel plans despite the warnings. As of September/October 2011, no such travel warning existed for Sri Lanka, nor has it existed in some time. Access the Canadian consular affairs site at www.voyage.gc.ca or subscribe to www.etraveladvisories.com to check on the status of the destination in order to reassure your clients of the travel safety factor.
Selling Sri Lanka is an expression of what many refer to as ‘infectious enthusiasm’…
RECOVERY SELLING Selling Sri Lanka is an expression of what many refer to as ‘infectious enthusiasm’. There are just so many good things about travelling in the country and travel sellers will want to talk it up to their clients, once they return from a visit. GETTING A BIT FAMILIAR In September, I paid my second visit to the country, this time as a co‐escort of a travel counsellor Familiarization trip. The usual Fam protocol was observed with site inspections of no less than 14 hotels ranging from 5 star to exclusive villas, and from breathtaking architecture to ‘hmmm this is interesting’. And of course the beauty of a Fam is that travel sellers are able to see for themselves the variety of accommodation that is available and then, in learned fashion, recommend the best fit for their clients’ needs. Fam trip food in Sri Lanka is mostly buffet style which allows the travel counsellors to chose their own dishes, experiment with tastes they might not even know to sample, compare ‘plates’ with their neighbours and to visually select what best appeals to individual senses. And again from the travel seller perspective, this allows you to talk to clients about what they can expect, deal with clients with food allergies or concerns, as well as put to bed the myth that everything is extremely spicy. In Sri Lanka, one’s senses are almost always treated to savoury curries, some hot and some mild, surprisingly delicious (and safe to eat) salads (and for some reason the salad Niçoise was amazing just about everywhere); different styles of rice and breads, and yummy deserts. And of course each meal ended with tea and coffee‐‐ which someone might take for granted as just a beverage, but in Sri Lanka it is soooo tasty! But it was the ‘get involved’ activities that grabbed the attention of the travel counsellors, and this started on the day after we arrived with a visit to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. Have you ever bottle fed an elephant? or walked up to a mother protectively standing over her baby? Have you every wanted to play National Geographic nature photographer and snap away at elephants walking a few feet in front of you as they make their way to bathe in the river? And there you are, watching the elephants cavorting and playing and showing obvious joy as they socialize in their family groups or receive their daily rub‐down from their mahout.
And as if this was not enough we hopped into jeeps in Minneriya National Wildlife Park to watch the elephant herds, admire the soaring eagles and strutting peacocks and get a sense of adventure and involvement with nature that one does not always associate with a trip to Sri Lanka. But again, from the sales perspective, what we were tasting was niche market suggestions for our clients. Culinary travel, wildlife travel, bird watching, adventure, nature, flora, history, religion, agriculture, photography and much more. Niche travel is so important these days and Sri Lanka makes you, as the travel seller, look good in your clients’ eyes for suggesting a destination that fulfills their travel dreams.
After 1,500 km of travel; after exploring the ruins of Pollunaruwa, climbing the spectacular fortress of Sigiriya, wandering through the caves at Dambulla, sharing amongst pilgrims the Buddhist relics and statues in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, sipping freshly picked tea in Nuwara Eliya and meditatively walking on the sand beaches of Bentota at sunrise…and loving every minute of it, we were already practicing our sales spiels for clients looking for something new, refreshing, different and energizing. Selling Sri Lanka requires your skills for using up‐to‐date information—travel intelligence to put to rest many of the myths to which your clients may be clinging. Was it a safe journey for everyone on the Fam trip? Yes Were their eyes opened to a new and exciting destination? Absolutely! Did anyone complain or want to leave early? Not a soul. Did their perceptions change about a country that was formally, in their minds, on the cusp of uncertainty as to whether it would satisfy the travel needs of their clients? No Question! With great cross‐generational appeal, with a huge variety of niche market potential, and always with the warm Sinhalese greeting of “Ayubowan” (May you live longer and be healthy), Sri Lanka is a destination on the move! Lay the myths of the past to rest. Time to sell the country with confidence and educate your clients about Sri Lanka’s great potential.
On this page we enhance the sales relationship between supplier BDMs and the travel agent. Outcome: faster, quicker, larger, higher revenue sales!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO SUSTAIN YOUR OWN SALES KNOW‐HOW AND WORLD KNOWLEDGE, FACTS, STATS AND TRENDS?
Books You Need To Read Here’s a book very few BDMs would have read. Find this gem online at Amazon and read it over many, many times. Here it is:
You know it’s true. Many travel agents look up to you as an expert in what you represent. Not only that, they also look to you for business guidance that might help their agency prosper. The question then is how are you keeping your knowledge base topped up? What are you reading? What courses are you taking? How many webinars are you attending each month and how are you pushing what you learn back out to your accounts and the frontline? Knowledge By Topic At the very least you should know what’s “playing” on every single webpage of your company’s website – and even more so, on the agent pages section. Next you’ll be wanting to know more and more about technology and social marketing tools so that you can explain how they can be used to promote and sell your products. If you happen to be in the business of representing a product to Europe about now, then you should be well schooled in what’s happening overseas, and get the company input about how the European situation might affect how your accounts sell your tours to that area of the world. Although the European economy seems to be in a downward spiral, the outcome might prove to be a positive situation for selling European tours. Who knows? Your head office should. Ask them and take the news to the frontline.
Typically we’re talking currency fluctuations and value for money and what one Canadian dollar will buy in Europe if and when the crisis continues or worsens. If this is true as it has been in the past, then you’ll need to be ready with a few slogans that your accounts can use to attract their customers to travel to Europe in 2012 based on the Canadian dollar going farther. There will be room for a dedicated webinar on this subject. As soon as you have your information, be first, get on that laptop and beam out to your accounts how they can prosper in 2012 by taking advantage of the European situation.
BDM Font: Baily
After that find, find and read the other two volumes: Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads: Turning Paupers into Princes and Lead into Gold and Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads: Tools and Techniques for Profitable Persuasion. These books take some reading and digesting. Perhaps a few reviews will get the learning learnt. Then you can pass on the knowledge and or suggest your accounts by and read these very same books.
Remember the BDM Mantra: “If I can’t sell it to them… they won’t sell it for me!”
IDEA # 162: Moving TEXT Displays
It’s hard to say in the same sentence as iPad, but hey, those old LED text displays can still work for your agency. You can have single line LED displays, two line displays, displays that can hang in your agency window, larger displays for external use, on top of your building, on the exterior wall, on a bill board and resting on the rear seat ledge for the car following you to read. ASK ME ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE When a customer walks in and you on the phone, your LED display are can be “saying” something, “asking” something, “stating” something… Displays come in all shapes and sizes. Most are programmable which means you can preset the marketing message to coincide with your next special offer, or whatever it is you are going to promote. Signs in the rear window of your car can help push people to make contact with you. Better check your local laws as some areas of the world want nothing to do with any distraction on the road. A moving display in the rear window of the car ahead might be included. Your agency window is a well established place for a sign like this. Local people are used to looking in or at your window and hoping for a breath of fresh air and a nudge towards flying off to some wonderful spot in the world. Title Font: BadaBoom BB
THE COFFEE GIFT CARD
Head to your favourite barista or coffee shop and check if they have Coffee Cards to sell you. Some of the cards sell for ten‐bucks and that’s affordable. Print yourself a few deckles with your logo on them and stick them to the cover that house the coffee card. Now you’re good to go. Hand these cards to old clients, people you’ve just met and prospects who need a nudge to complete the booking. Coffee cards are great closers and make a great thank you too. Try it.
412 PAGES 273 IDEAS 100s of VARIATIONS 700 LINKS TO MORE RESOURCES When you need a source of ideas to either implement as is, or to help jog your own creative juices, this is the book to buy. It took me over 25 years to get it ‘here’ and that story is on page 5. It was some journey. When I started writing it, the IBM Selectric was the word processor of choice! What a laugh. Some suppliers have purchased a copy for each of their Business Development Managers, host agencies have made bulk purchases for their members and individual agents have written in to say this book is their idea bible.
WHEN YOU BUY THIS BOOK YOU WILL RECEIVE 2 HOURS OF IDEA TIME WITH THE AUTHOR AND 10% OFF YOUR FIRST STATIONERY ORDER WHEN PURCHASED THROUGH BIG BARK GRAPHICS EASY TO USE E-STORE!
It also, as you can see, comes in pill form, a cure for the common creative block! Okay, just kidding, but it is available in E‐BOOK format if you prefer to read it on screen! For e‐Book’s: www.smptraining.com/store.html
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CONFERENCE KEYNOTES Fast paced, humourous, excellent imagery and delivered with a street‐savvy, no‐fluff and little theory format. Click 4 More.
WEBINARS & WORKSHOPS Webinar’s are an SMP specialty. Running 75 to 90 minutes, they include a workbook plus 30 minutes of post webinar time with me AND a 5‐day review of the webinar recording for additional note taking. Click here for details.
BUSINESS CONSULTING Have you heard of or experienced NBG? If not – it’s about time! NBG can be applied to any aspect of your travel or tourism business including divisions, departments or individuals. Put the power of my creativity and longevity in the business to work for you. q q q q q
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Franchising, Hosting And Start-Ups
PUBLICATIONS The ultimate desk reference for TAs. With 412 pages, covering 273 marketing ideas + 700 links to additional information. Order today from Big Bark Graphics – Enter the Big Bark Store here. Now available in e‐Book format from The Travel Institute.
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Read sample copy here
SELF‐STUDY GUIDES AVAILABLE FROM CITC
Time to study currency fluctuation and what that means as the European situation worsens or turns around. When these economic events happen there is always opportunity connected to exchange rates. There are also many ‘specials’ to be found overseas, and direct with hotels and tour firms that are on location. For Europe you can find numerous specials when booked in or out of London UK. So booking direct or via a UK agency or tour company you can serve your clients well IF the exchange rates are favourable. To stay on top of the rates of exchange, create a Google Alert and monitor your emails for anything related to how rates of exchange are moving up or down compared to your currency.
“SUCCCESS IS THE SUM OF SMALL EFFORTS REPEATED DAY IN AND DAY OUT.” Robert Collier
TELL A TRAVEL AGENT COLLEAGUE, HEAD OFFICE, YOUR SALES MANAGER OR YOUR HOST AGENCY ABOUT SELLING TRAVEL MAGAZINE AND LETS WORK TOGETHER TO BUILD THE SELLING TRAVEL COMMUNITY. SELLING TRAVEL is published monthly by
www.smptraining.com T: 250-752-0106 firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketing Ideas for the Travel Trade