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Planning for 2016December 28, 2015 By: Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection
Hit the Ground Running
Are you ready to hit the ground running in 2016? Rather than make New Year's Resolutions that are hardly ever kept, business owners need to think through all they want to accomplish in the coming year and come up with ideas on how to achieve those goals.
Show Me the Money
Yes, you love travel and that's why you started in the industry -- but as a business owner, you need to make money to continue doing what you love. You should have realistic quarterly financial goals -- and they should include an increase in commissions from 2015. You should also think about how you’re going to achieve those target numbers. Beyond selling hotels, cruises, and other travel products, are you selling supplemental items, such as travel insurance, that can earn you commissions and build your income over the course of the year?
If your business is growing substantially, it’s time to consider adding staff. If you’re spending too much time on simple bookings or paperwork, consider hiring a junior agent to help so that you can focus on the bigger, more complicated bookings. Think about hiring a Millennial agent – someone under the age of 30 -- to sell to his/her peers, who make up one of the largest growth markets in travel. A recent survey from Choice Hotels said that 35 percent of Millennials would still use travel agents when deciding on a hotel.
Time to Specialize
Millennials are just one market segment that you should be looking at in 2016. Agents need to specialize and develop their areas of expertise in order to grow their businesses. Whether it's river cruising, multigenerational travel, or specific destinations, decide which markets or specialties are “hot” for your business and do everything you can to learn more about them, so that you can position yourself as an expert.
Travel the World
Often it's hard to schedule your own travel when running a business. It's a bit of a Catch-22: If you're on the road, then chances are you're selling less while you’re away; however, experiencing travel helps you sell more effectively. Figure your slow times based on 2015 and 2014, and plan those as your times to travel. Decide where you want to go and what you want to experience based on what might appeal to your current and prospective clients.
Your specializations and travel plans for 2016 should be integrated into a formal marketing plan that specifically outlines how you can reach new prospects and get repeat purchases from your current client database. Social media should be a big part of your marketing; it’s free and easy to use. Use Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to promote your business and get friends and followers excited about your personal trips, your areas of expertise, and any new travel information you've discovered. Always include photos and/or videos with your posts; posts with images are much more likely to be shared or re-tweeted, making your social-media efforts that much more effective. Plan special events or attend shows linked to your specialties to help expand your reach. Send e-newsletters to clients on a regular basis to remind them of your knowledge and excite them with your travel tales.
Review your current suppliers and their objectives. Have they been providing you with the best service? If yes, then continue the relationship, but if not, switch to new suppliers who truly care about helping you grow your business.
Protect Your Business
Start 2016 by making sure that your business is safeguarded by errors-and-omissions (E&O) insurance coverage. Protect your bookings so that your hard work and commitment to building your business continues to pay dividends.
This article is brought to you by Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, and was produced in partnership with Travel Agent Central’s sales team. Travel Agent Central’s editorial team played no part in developing the article.