Yes, we made it to the fourth quarter of 2020 … and what a journey it has been! Although most of us have had downtime as a result of the global pandemic, this isn’t a time to rest on our laurels. We all know that travel will come back; it’s just a matter of when, and how. So here are 10 must-do tasks for travel advisors to get busy with now through December that will put you in a stronger position to sell and thrive in 2021 when travel bounces back.
1. Go on a trip to see things first-hand.
This month or next, go on a trip yourself, within the U.S., to Mexico or other places in the Caribbean that are opening up to Americans. Take abundant pictures and video (with you in them) and share the details of your trip with enthusiasm on your social media pages. When clients see you traveling safely, that will spark a certain wanderlust in them.
2. Get to know your travel suppliers (and destinations) better. To start, choose five. Make one of them a segment that represents a new or expanded direction for your business. Take webinars, and participate in the Q&As. Then go to #3 as it applies to the courses you just completed.
3. Put on your matchmaker hat, and comb through your client database.
Tackle one travel segment at a time, so as not to overwhelm yourself. For instance, go through each of your cruise clients and list 3-5 possible trips in 2021/2022 for them – and explain why you think these are good options for them. Let them know you’re thinking of them during these strange COVID-influenced times, and that you wanted to share a bit of inspiration to bring a smile to their face and imagine how they’ll travel again when this pandemic finally ends. Be sensitive (as some people are quite shut down by the changes brought on by COVID-19) but also be encouraging (after all, you are their travel genie) to get them thinking and planning. And share something personal from your life that makes an emotional connection.
4. Spend time culling through and reconnecting with your industry contacts.
Send quick notes on LinkedIn saying you were just thinking of them and wondering how they’re faring in these strange COVID-19 days; or just wish them happy holidays and a better 2021 as the winter holiday season approaches. And get involved in those myriad Zoom meetings being offered in the industry so you can see your peers face to face. This is a time to be kind to one another – and that’s something people will remember. You never know when a contact will lead to new business or a profitable industry alliance.
5. Add your passion back into your travel business.
In addition to traveling, is there something else that you love to do? How can you develop that into a niche specialization in travel? It may be a full pivot, or just an adjustment. It’s always easier to seek out clients who match your offerings if you have a niche established. Use this downtime to plan, research, and get the wheels in motion, so all you have to do is start it up when travel restrictions are lifted.
6. Launch a weekly podcast, do a Facebook Live series.
Call it something like, “Wanderlust 2021: Getting Ready to Travel.” Make it a positive educational series, talking about and showing different types of niche travel and destinations, sharing with clients and prospects to help get them dreaming of where they want to go in 2021/2022. Remind them that a little daydreaming never hurt anyone; and in fact, it can really lift your spirits these days.
7. Step back and evaluate your business operations, top to bottom.
Are you providing enough ongoing education and support to your travel advisors? Is your incentives program working as it should? Which travel suppliers could you build stronger relationships with? Is your CRM delivering results? Are your banking, accounting, and payroll vendor relationships as efficient as they could be?
8. Take a good, hard look at your contracts and all legal documents, with the help of your legal counsel.
Do you need to update terms and conditions to reflect the current travel landscape? How are you selling travel insurance? Is your agency protected from liabilities?
9. Plug the hole.
We can’t all be experts in everything, but as a travel agency owner or entrepreneur, we pretty much have to be able to do it all. In what area or discipline could you stand to bolster your knowledge and experience? Social media? Marketing? Mobile apps? Financial planning? Setting sales goals? Pick one and take a course online. Knowledge is power.
10. Take a fresh look at your home office.
Is it a space that inspires and energizes you to do your best work? How’s the lighting, the desk set-up, the ease of access to your files and the printer? Do you have plants or a water element, or your dog’s bed at your feet, to infuse life into the space? If there’s clutter, clean it up and out. How are you showing up on Zoom calls, and what should you adjust to present the most professional, but still welcoming, persona? This pandemic has changed the entire business sphere, and many of us will continue working from a home office for quite some time, maybe even permanently. Invest in your environment, and it will bring you financial rewards as well as an emotional boost.
And one more suggestion, for good measure…
11. Reward yourself.
Buy that special item you’ve had your eye on online … book a spa treatment (if your state allows it) … go out to dinner with a friend or spouse and have some delicious wine or a liqueur with your coffee. You deserve it for all the months you’ve weathered lockdown and uncertainty. Do something nice for yourself – it will help you to recharge.
Pick one or do them all. Or let these suggestions set you on a course of finding your own motivation. Now is the time to mull over what you really want in your business; research your options to grow; make new contacts and revisit old ones; set new goals; and strategize about how you’ll accomplish those goals. Get ready now for the wave of travel bookings that will flood through your door when travel opens up again.
FROM THE SPONSOR: Silversea has recently released a variety of tools to help travel advisors grow their business. An enhanced Marketing Central allows users to customize and download marketing materials using Silversea branded assets. The new launched Silversea Academy brings a new level of immersion and learning to travel advisors wishing to sell Silversea. To access all the tools available to travel advisors, visit My.Silversea.com.