Despite the ever-changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, entrepreneurship continues to thrive. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans starting new businesses increased by 24% in 2020 and was pacing to be even higher in 2021.
What does this mean for you? There’s never been a better time to start a new business or take the next step in your career and use your travel experience to start your very own independent agency, which is why we’ve compiled 14 useful tips to help you be successful in 2022.
1. Evaluate Your Agency’s Brand
What do you want your focus to be for 2022 and beyond? How do you want your clients to remember you? Having too broad a range of specialties (but a master of none) isn’t going to help you stand out in the marketplace, so be sure to narrow it down and focus on one or a few and communicate that expertise to your clients.
2. Narrow Your Focus
Think of specialties as more than just suppliers. Ask yourself these questions to help narrow down your niche:
•Do you love selling to first-time cruisers? If yes, focus on those vendors, as well as the needs and concerns of those clients. If no, perhaps move away from those suppliers that no longer service your client base.
•What age demographic do you seem to work best with? Focus on brands that cater to those clients.
•Do you like selling big ships or small ships? Tours, cruises or FITs? Home in what you prefer to sell and make those your specialties.
•Love commissions with commas? Consider becoming a “Suite Specialist” and learn how to speak “Suite Talk” to your clients to get that sale.
•Connect with your brand message! If you’re a cruise agency, focus on that in your marketing strategy. Selling luxury? Then promote and share luxury brands.
3. Know Your Specialties Inside And Out
Once you have your brand identity locked in, take the time to learn and know your specialties like the back of your hand. Your client needs you to know more than they do. This is more important than ever with the fluctuating policy changes due to the pandemic.
4. Make A Plan
Talk to your family and lay out a plan for working extra hours. For example, having family members help with dinner and housework allows more time for you to focus on your leads.
5. Never Forget The Follow Up
Regular follow up gives your clients a chance to be heard and engaged with effectively. Plus, this will help clients keep you in mind when they want to book their next vacation.
6. Understand Not All Leads Will Close
Sometimes another agency may have a better offer. That’s ok – sometimes you’ll have the better offer. That lead is part of the percentage that you don’t close, so take another lead and move on.
7. Evaluate Discount Chasers
When working with clients seeking big discounts, ask yourself if this is a client you want to build a relationship with. It’s ok to not be the “discount agent”, you can be the one that offers great service and helpful tips instead.
8. Hone Your Education
No matter how secure you feel in your knowledge, the industry is constantly changing. Be sure to keep up with your education both with your travel partner, as well as your preferred suppliers. Missed knowledge can result in missed sales.
9. ‘Not My Specialty’
If you’re not interested in booking something (pre-travel hotel, rental car, airfare), it’s perfectly fine to tell your clients that’s not your specialty. Recommend options, but be sure to tell your clients that they may get a better deal booking directly.
10. Showcase Your Contact Info
Make sure all your leads know how to reach you. On initial contact, let them know to save your direct phone number. If they lose it, they might get rerouted to another agency.
11. Update Your Website
Ensure your agency’s website is up to date with all your current specialties, training and awards for credibility – clients will want to see these.
12. Always Be Honest
Be sure to keep your clients updated on the latest COVID realities, such as how they need to remain flexible or what to expect on a certain travel trip, such as vaccination requirements for current cruise lines.
13. Make The Sales Process Enjoyable
Your business helps create unforgettable travel memories for your clients. They should have fun working with you from the first hello. If working with you is not enjoyable, they have other options to choose from instead.
14. Developing Relationships
Reminder: Selling is something we do “with” someone, not “to” someone. Relationships matter in this industry – if the roles were reversed, would you return to this working relationship?
The new year provides a blank canvas of opportunity for many – don’t miss your chance to achieve your goals and see greater success than ever before.
Whatever the path to building your ideal business may look like, Avoya will be there along the way, providing as much or as little support and resources as you’re looking for.