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Surviving the Recession: Sherry Laskin Kennedy

January 5, 2009 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Home-Based Travel Agent


Travel Agent recently interviewed leading agents and suppliers to
get their views on the current economic downturn, as well as their
advice for ways that agents can capitalize on it. In this exclusive
online series, we present the complete Q&As with these industry
experts. First up is Sherry Laskin Kennedy, agent and owner of The
Vacation Shoppe
, Satellite Beach, FL.

TA: What are you doing now to take advantage of the downturn?

am concentrating on keeping in touch with past clients and keeping the
relationship on track. Now at the holiday season is really great time
to have a reason to call your clients. Send greeting cards, birthday
cards, anniversary cards.

TA: Are you focusing on using your down time to educate yourself?

A slow time is fabulous for finishing all the educational programs
started earlier in the year, complete a CLIA level online, Princess and
Cunard Academy, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, Marriott, France...all
the more in-depth programs that take time and effort to complete.

TA: Are you using it to gain a competitive advantage while others are going into hibernation?

using this downtime to keep ahead of the pack. Many of the educational
programs offer travel benefits and fams once completed. Experiencing
the product or destination is the best way to impress your clients and
to gain their confidence. There is a lot of competition out there these
days. You have to be the most knowledgeable and experienced travel
agent that they could find.

TA: How do you market during a downturn?

is not the time to conserve your marketing dollars. This is the time to
negotiate with your local advertisers or join forces with another venue
(restaurant, wine store, health club etc) and get your name out there.
People are still looking to travel; they just want to think that they
are getting the bargain deal... not necessarily the best value. Invest
the most dollars you have available into advertising now, before the
storefront down the street beats you to it. Don't let these challenging
times affect your marketing and promotion. It's the most important time
to stay current and in your clients' face!

TA: How do you reach the customer who is receiving a barrage of deal offers?

and referral business will get you through to customers who have stacks
and stacks of travel agency postcards piling up at their home and in
their online mailbox. Ask for the business. Give a referral reward to
past clients either in the form of cash now, or dollars off their next

TA: How do you cut through the fray?

It isn't
easy. I'm investing in print ads right now that are eye-catching.  My
ads focus on a particularly unique cruise/tour that is priced for these
tough economic times. Then, once they call me and want to book, I can
try to upsell them to a better cabin, a pre/post cruise or tour stay or
even a better travel insurance program.  

What do you think of this $type?

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