Column: Top 10 Tips to Survive 2015

In case you missed it, we're rounding up the top six features that will help you set your business strategies for 2015. For the latest travel industry news, trends and research, check out our new Owners and Managers page on Travel Agent Central. 

Times are good, but keep this advice in mind as you navigate the new year.

  1. Shake it off. What were your worst moments in 2014? If specific suppliers and clients caused you great strife, strike them from your game book. If your worst problems were caused by errors made by you or your team, analyze the situation to ensure they never happen again. Then move on and face the new year without any bitterness or extra baggage.

  2. Balance your portfolio of specializations. If the one destination you’re an expert on faces a crisis such as Ebola, for example, you’ll have others to sell in its place.

  3. Shut it down, please. If you opened a Facebook page or a Twitter account for your agency three years ago and haven’t updated it in a year, delete it. Potential customers who see it may decide you’ve gone out of business, are negligent in your marketing or have sadly passed away.

  4. Disengage from the nitty-gritty. You slave to ensure that every detail of a client’s trip is perfect, but step back for one hour a day to determine how you can run your business better. Hire someone to help with the minutiae so you can strategize on marketing yourself and growing your profits through better partnerships.

  5. Manage your growth. Along those lines, this might be the first time in years your business is truly booming. How much business can you take on before you’re not able to service clients properly? Should you partner with another advisor or merge your agency with another’s? Or is being a sole proprietor the only route for you? Take a holistic view of your business before you get too bogged down in the day to day so you can grow healthily and happily.

  6. Sell leaner, sell meaner. You’re humming along with plenty of referral business coming your way—but are all those clients worth your time? Take those who have the potential to deliver high margins and politely ditch the rest. Keep those who ask you about the experiences they’ll have on their trip, not those seeking you to rebate them $100 to match what another agent offered them for a package or a cruise.

  7. Hello, it’s me. Are you starting to sell a lot of one supplier’s product? Be sure your regional sales rep knows who you are. Arrange a meeting with them by phone or in person to determine if there are certain goals you can meet for enhanced commissions. Getting to know them personally means they’ll likely have your back if you need assistance with an issue.

  8. Network outside of your network. Did you know there are other amazing advisors living parallel lives with you, who you haven’t met, who belong to different consortia? Link up with them at supplier events and ask them what makes their agency group so special. Constantly assess your partnerships; you won’t be able to do that if you hang out only with those in your network.

  9. Do you belong? Speaking of networks, here’s a hint to determine if you’re with the right consortia. When you describe them, you refer to the group as “we.” You think of them as your family of colleagues and that shows through. If instead you’re referring to them as “they,” you’ve got some issues that need resolving or maybe you’re just not a good fit for each other.

10. Go local. You have clients all over the world that you’ve never met, but consider the neighbors in your town who don’t know how to find a good travel consultant. You don’t have to open an agency on Main Street, but hosting an event at the local wine shop or library could be an amazingly simple way to expand your business.