Fear of Missing Out, otherwise known as FOMO, can have repercussions for a travel agent who opens Facebook only to find out that their good friend or family member just posted pictures of their amazing vacation – you know, the one you didn’t know anything about. They didn’t use you and the FOMO officially kicks in, not to mention all the other emotions that go along with this realization.
Every agent has been there, so Travel Market Report asked a number of them their advice on how to handle this scenario. Here are the three things they said you should be doing and the two that you need to let go of.
Be better, not bitter
Resist the temptation to unfriend, confront, or bombard them with the poop emoji or other not-so-friendly ideograms. Instead, positively engage with their post, first “liking” it and second, commenting with your own positive experience with the destination or cruise line they used. As hard as it might be, even ask to see more pictures.
“Nothing good can come of stirring up any bad blood over a decision the person has already made. And if I were to take that road, I know I would lose any future business from this person that might have otherwise come my way,” said Dawn Stark, ACC, owner of Dawn’s Destinations in Oceanside, New York.
Michele Cartwright, CTA, owner of Destinations by Design in Eleanor, West Virginia, concurs: “Never be bitter and negatively comment – that’s the first step to scaring away business. I am happy when people experience travel, even when they do not book with me.”
Reevaluate your marketing
Check your bio and descriptions on your Facebook page. Is your messaging clear and concise? Are you actually communicating to your friends that you’re a travel agency owner/travel agent? Also, run Facebooks ads from your business page. Spread the news that you’re a stellar travel agent who is ready to book their next vacation. Post pictures and videos from your own vacations, fams, and even your clients’ vacation pictures (for the latter, be sure to ask their permission first).
“Evaluating marketing techniques is an ongoing process,” said Cartwright. “It is my responsibility to remind people what I do for a living and to ask for their business.”
Double down on your hustle
Move on with stride and turn your FOMO into drive. Use that drive to create the perfect vacation for your current clients. And then ask them to post pictures so you can share them on your business page.
Bad scenarios such as the example noted above are unavoidable, but it is how you choose to deal with them that will dictate the outcome. It is often possible to turn a bad situation around into a good one. For example, if your good friend just returned from an annual family reunion trip, learn what their likes and dislikes were and start offering up ideas for next year’s vacation.
“I use [these moments] as an opportunity to increase my knowledge base so that the next time I have more to offer in the way of expertise and service,” said Stark.
Now that you know what you should be doing, here are the two things you need to be letting go of:
The idea that your friends and family should be your entire database
Your database should be filled with people outside of your inner circle. Use those Facebook ads we talked about earlier to reach potential new clients. As one agent put it, “There’s nothing wrong with having friends and family as clients, however they shouldn’t be the bulk of your existing clients. Stop swimming in that pool, you’ll drown.”
Wendy Campbell, owner of Go Elite Travel, agrees that sometimes friends and family can be more trouble than they’re worth. “When I first started in the industry, I would get my feelings hurt and be somewhat bitter toward that person for not utilizing my services, but over the years, I have realized that it’s okay. Friends and family often just want free advice. The closer one is to the client, the more they feel they can ‘use’ you but not ‘USE’ you!”
Any negative emotions
Don’t take it personally. They didn’t purposely decide to book somewhere else. More than likely, it all came about quite naturally and you may never know the real story behind “the time they booked without you.” If your friend or family member went with another agent, remind yourself that some people don’t like to mix business with personal. Set your feelings aside and ask yourself, “Did I really want to book that trip?” If they went to an all-inclusive in Cancun but your niche is European river cruises, would you have been able to create the perfect experience for them? Remember, focus on your own hustle!
FROM THE SPONSOR: At Travel Planners International, you’re more than just an independent contractor, you’re a small business owner. For the last 30 years, we’ve believed in, guided, and championed for the small business travel agency owner – and we have no intention of stopping. So, along with competitive commission plans, profit-generating marketing programs, and access to cutting-edge technology, we give emerging entrepreneurs the tools, guidance, and confidence to be successful and to harness their entrepreneurial spirit. But, don’t just take our word for it. Visit travelplannersinternational.com and let’s get you where you want to be!