There’s no question the past few months have upended the travel industry, and while it may seem daunting, it’s possible to do things today that will help regain profitability.
“I’ve never seen times changes so quickly, we were poised to have one of the best years in travel ever, to falling off the cliff,” began Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners, during a webinar on Thursday. And although a full recovery for the industry will take time, Fee and Scott Koepf, senior vice president of strategic development, shared five strategies to help a travel advisors business during these unprecedented times.
1. Maximize your database
First, make sure you are maximizing your database by using an excellent CRM system, determining important data to retain, designing a process to capture data, and planning on an outreach program.
“During this stressful time we needed agents to focus on what they had to do – being on hold and rebooking – but we didn’t want them to lose out on the Future Cruise Credit (FCC). Our built-in CMS can target clients with specific insight,” Fee said.
2. Pair the right marketing with the right client
Making sure the right marketing goes to the right client has been successful thus far for Cruise Planners. Fee noted there’s been an uptick in purchases over the past few weeks and 2021 business is strong.
“The right tech package is going to carry you into the future. It’s more than an excel spreadsheet, you want to get as much info on these clients as possible, from experience to travel style and demographics,” added Koepf.
Through marketing, you want to make sure you stay top of mind for clients.
“When people hear marketing, they think that means selling, but marketing is a fancier word for communication.”
3. Stay in touch with your clients
Staying connected will ensure clients are loyal to you. “When this is all over you want to make sure you’re top of mind for clients,” Fee said, adding that if you’re not, they may be lured away by direct marketing from cruise lines and tour operators.
While Cruise Planners provide unique opportunities for customers to engage, if you feel like you’re not technologically savvy enough, reach out to your BDM for help or suggestions.
By being the expert, you’re making sure the message comes across and it is clear to your customers why they need to turn to you.
“You’ve been the hero. How many people booked with online players or big box stores and they were on hold for seven hours? The age for the travel agent has begun again, so don’t sit idle, take advantage of this time,” Fee said.
4. Be prepared for when clients are ready to travel
The next tip is to be ready for when that customer comes to your door, whether it’s by having packaged trips or knowing your top supplier partners new policies and procedures.
“We’re inundated with information, so it’s important to know not only about suppliers but what they’re doing in this given environment,” said Koepf.
Koepf said you can prepare by focusing on your education and training. “Put it on your calendar so you don’t push it off, and utilize association resources like CLIA and ASTA.” While Cruise Planners hosts 1-on-1 training seminars, maximize your relationship with which host or consortia you’re aligned with.
5. Find the silver lining
Finally, find the silver lining. “The only thing that is consistent now is inconsistency,” Koepf said. “So find the little bits of light, determine your strengths, and thank your clients.”