Following is the latest in a series of columns by travel agent, entrepreneur and business strategist Tammy Levent
A common practice among travel agents is to go on familiarization visits, also known as “fam” trips. The idea behind them is to get familiar with the various properties and vendors so that you will have a better idea of what facts to mention to clients when trying to sell them on a vacation.
Going on one or two fams a year to learn more about the different properties is one thing, but in my consulting with other travel agents over the last several years I’ve met too many agents who go on four to six or more a year.
You’re not an agent my friend, you’re a fam addict!
Here are just a few reasons to scale back on the number of fam trips you take annually:
You have other needs you should address first. Your website isn’t finished, your emails are going unanswered, you barely market yourself and you don’t even have business cards yet. Then, you whine about not having any clients.
Yes! These are all real issues that agents haven’t addressed because they are going on too many fam trips.
This is a business, not a hobby and should be treated accordingly. It’s easy to get swept up in the dream of traveling full time as an agent, but unfortunately until you have achieved a certain level of success this kind of thinking leads to treating your business too much like a hobby.
I have actually heard of agents that only try to sell enough trips per year to pay for their vacations. If this is you, I’m sorry but you will never be a full-time agent. Instead you will always be stuck in your day job wishing you were able to run your travel business full time.
Fam trips aren’t free. Gone are the days when airlines took it upon themselves to grant us free or discounted tickets just because we were agents visiting a site. So even if the resort takes care of the cost of your stay, you will still need to cover your airfare and any additional transportation costs.
Every time you are on a trip, is time away from your office. Unless you have already achieved some success and have a few staff members working with you, odds are the phone goes unanswered every time you take a fam trip.
Do you realize how many potential clients you are losing simply because you can never take their call? Clients want immediate attention and if they don’t hear back from you asap they will book with someone else.
Now you have not only lost time and the cost of the trip, you have potentially lost commissions. I hope the fam trip was worth it!
To me, fam trips should not be the reason you become an agent.
After reading this article, if you realize you are a fam addict it may be time to reassess your business. Remember, the goal is to make money—not find new ways of spending it.
Tammy Levent is the founder of T.A.S.K., the Travel Agent’s Success Kit, which teaches the agents of today how to succeed in being travel entrepreneurs. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.