The Travel Industry's Rebound
By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

Across the country many travel advisors are busier than they have been in years. And it isn’t just since the start of the pandemic – but it is truly the busiest they have been in many years.

But there are also advisors who are seeing things pick up but aren’t experiencing the record-breaking bookings that some of their colleagues are seeing. This is especially true if your specialty is cruise, Europe, or Asia. The lingering uncertainty around each of those specialties means that many consumers aren’t quite ready to commit to travel yet.

Finally, the third group of advisors are those who aren’t seeing an increase in business at all. They hear their colleagues in the industry talk about being busy, but they aren’t experiencing it.

This leads me to ask the question, “Why?”

Why are some advisors having record-breaking weeks while others are waiting on the phone to ring? I think there are a couple of factors.

The first is that the advisors who are incredibly busy right now are the ones who have established relationships with clients and maintained communication with their client and prospect lists throughout the pandemic. They did not go radio silent. They continued to show up in inboxes in a way that nurtured the relationship.

I’ve said it over and over again: relationships are more critical in the travel industry than in many others. This is not a transactional business! Clients are looking for a travel advisor they know, like, and trust. Your marketing is how you build that know, like, and trust.

The second factor is what your clients believe is your specialty or strength. If you have focused exclusively on cruises in your marketing, then they aren’t going to call you to book a dude ranch vacation this summer. They just aren’t. Take a look at your marketing, try to see it from the viewpoint of someone who has never worked with you. What message are you giving out?

It has always amazed me that people think that you open a business (whether it is a travel business, a florist, or a boutique), and you think that people will just naturally find you. It doesn’t happen that way. Can you attract clients? Absolutely. But you can’t just sit back and wait on them to come rolling in.

If you are one of those advisors whose phone isn’t ringing, what can you do? I recommend first looking at your marketing. What message are you putting out there? If you aren’t doing anything, that’s a big part of the problem. How are consumers supposed to get to know YOU?

What consumers are looking for right now in a travel advisor is an expert they can trust. Many were burned by OTAs (online travel agencies) and swore, “Never again”. And yet, many of them don’t know an advisor to work with. You have to help them find you!

I firmly believe we are in renaissance for our industry. And goodness knows we deserve one after the past 15 months. Those who will benefit the most are those who continued building relationships with their clients and prospective clients, and those who marketed to expand that list. They have a definite leg up on everyone else, but it’s not too late to put the right steps in place to get your share of the pie!