Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement & performance at CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., sat down with TMR to offer up some tips for building your cruise business.
1. Get out there.
Especially if you are a home-based agent, don't rely on your immediate environment to grow your business. Be present and active in the community, and constantly represent yourself. Wear a name badge when you are at the grocery store – and when people ask you where the apples are, they will say “Oh, you’re a travel agent!”
2. Always carry a business card.
3. Market yourself.
The biggest challenge we have as an industry is that the consumer just doesn’t know we exist. We have to collectively shout out that we are travel agents; we have to just go back to the title that the public knows. Yes, you are a professional. But the public knows you as a travel agent.
4. Do something different.
Get your car wrapped, so even if you don't have a storefront they can still see you. They'll take a picture of your car while you are in Starbucks and call you. Put your business card on magnets of the back of the car so when they come out of the store they can take them.
5. Talk to people.
You need to be comfortable talking to people and educating people; don’t be afraid of rejection. Be an educator — and then ask people for the buy. People buy from people who are likable and thorough; they buy from people just like you.
6. Build your business by partnering with other local small businesses.
Talk to the owner of the local dry cleaner or Italian restaurant. People who go to the dry cleaner are paying for luxury with some frequency, so suggest you put out a little box of business cards and give away $50 worth of dry cleaning. Then enter all the names into a database and share them with him.