I’ve always said the travel industry is the best industry in the world. And I still stand by that! Right now it isn’t a lot of fun, but that isn’t going to last forever.

While this isn’t a great time in the travel industry, it can be a great time for your travel business. When have you ever had enough time to take a step back and do some significant work ON your business?

Many of you have been so busy working IN your business you haven’t had time to work ON it.  

Right now, you have a unique opportunity to make changes – whether big or small – to your business because you have the gift of time!

It is time to really look at your business with fresh eyes and see what’s working and what isn’t. It is also a great time to imagine, “What if…”

What if I completely change the focus of my business?

What if I introduce fees?

What if I stop taking all clients and just take the ones I want to work with?

As a travel entrepreneur, YOU are leading your travel business. You are the one setting the goals and guiding the ship. You get to make the decisions. If there is something that isn’t working or you think could be working better, now is the time to fix it.

To give you some suggestions on where to start, here are 4 areas I think you should take a look at.

Niche/Focus

Are you happy with the clients you are working with and the type of travel you are booking? If the answer is anything other than an enthusiastic “yes” now is the time to make changes. If you have been longing to pivot more to a particular type of travel or serve a specific client segment, do it now! Spend time getting everything in place and relaunch when this crisis is over.

If you aren’t really sure what your focus is, now is the time to fix that! Marketing is much more difficult when you have no idea who your target audience is. Putting the time in to figure this out is critically important because specialists make more money – a lot more money. And they don’t work 80 hours a week to do it.

Marketing

Anyone who has received this newsletter for more than a few weeks probably knows the first marketing recommendation I have: a weekly email newsletter (or ezine)! Right now, our GTN advisors are seeing open rates in excess of 50% for their ezines! They are also getting a lot of direct messages from current and potential clients. Why? Because having a weekly ezine that is informative and fun and not overly “salesy” builds know, like, and trust with your readers. That is where life-long clients come from. All you need to get started is an autoresponder (Constant Contact, AWeber, Mail Chimp, etc.). You don’t need to be a tech wizard or a graphic designer. Just do it consistently and I promise you it will pay dividends.

Also, consider what else you are doing to get in front of your ideal client. How are they supposed to know you exist? Marketing is much easier when you know who you are marketing to, so make sure you completed that step first.  

Profitability

It’s time for a deep dive into your numbers – even if you aren’t a numbers person. Pull out your records for last year and start crunching numbers. What’s your average yield (total commission generated divided by total sales)? This is an important number to know. Increasing your average yield by 1% can result in thousands of dollars more in your pocket. In addition to knowing your overall yield, you need to know your yield by vendor. You might be surprised at how two vendors who seem very similar have very different average yields. We have one mass-market cruise line that has an average yield of 12.23% while another is 10.62%. One river cruise line is 17.82% and another is 14.77%. That’s the information you need to know!

If you really want to increase your profitability you need to introduce fees. You may think this is a bad time to do that, but I think it is the PERFECT time. There has been lots of media attention about the service provided by travel advisors. People are looking for help and guidance. A professional fee is appropriate for a service provider and that’s what you should be charging. If the client says, “I’m not going to pay a fee when others work for free.” Then send them on their way. They aren’t your ideal clients. Since you probably keep 100% of your fees, it is the perfect way to boost profitability.

Community

Do you have a community? How has it supported you through this crisis? For many travel advisors, their host agency is their community. Has your host agency encouraged and inspired you through this challenging time? I surely hope so! Have they given you extra love and attention? Another consideration is if they are still a fit for you. Perhaps they were the perfect fit a few years ago, but not so much anymore. Perhaps it is time to change. If you wonder what is involved with changing host agencies, we have a document that can help with that. Just email us (joinus@giftedtravelnetwork.com) and we will be happy to send it to you.

If you are working all alone and not affiliated with a host agency, you might be feeling really isolated right now. There is no substitute for a community to help you feel connected and inspired. You will be more successful – and profitable – than being on your own.

In many ways, this downtime can be a blessing to your business. It is giving you a window of opportunity to work on your business without sacrificing your clients or having to put in extra hours to make it happen. Our industry is going to come back stronger than ever and those advisors who put time into strategic planning and evaluation will be the most successful of all.