Don't Be Left Behind in 2013


Ruthanne Terrero
Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero

It’s February and your clients are being bombarded with lists of where to go this year. They are likely overwhelmed by the choices they’re finding in travel magazines and other publications that are setting the landscape for 2013 with lists and compilations of ranches, islands and places so remote you’ve never even heard of them.

Your customers are getting the same dazed feeling they get when they Google a destination and receive a million answers in their search return. By now as well, suppliers will have mailed their brochures out to their consumer lists. Dining room tables across the nation are stacked high with river cruise, ocean cruise and tour operator books filled with dazzling photos and enticing itineraries.

What does all this mean? If you haven’t yet reached out to your clients to begin their travel planning for 2013 and 2014, you’re already behind. That’s right, it’s only the second month of the year and you need to start playing catch-up because your roster of customers is already drowning with travel options.

The good news is, with so many choices, they’re probably so confused they haven’t done a single thing yet to get themselves on a plane. So it’s time to spring into action. 

You know that plan you have to periodically reach out to clients throughout the year to see what’s on their bucket list? Do it now. The economy is better than it’s been for years and they’re no doubt ready to start planning that big vacation. Amp up your staffing—enlist friends and family to assist, if need be—but reach out and touch your clients in February by setting up times to chat with them about where they’ll go.

If you usually handle your customers only through e-mail, give them a phone call. Shock the heck out of them and tell them you’d like to make an appointment to review their travel portfolio. Don’t e-mail and ask them if they’d like to talk, just call them—today.

Bring them together as a group in collaboration with a wine shop, a museum or a restaurant to host a travel show ASAP.  Don’t wait until summer—you don’t want your clients thumbing through brochures and logging on to websites they’ve seen in the consumer magazines without seeking your help.

Now, what will you say to all of these people you’ve rounded up and offered to service? Of course, you’ll want to speak to them about their summer vacation (hint: many schools in the northeast U.S. had to cancel their annual February break because of school days lost from Hurricane Sandy so there will be pent-up demand for family. Sell these people up so they can reward themselves for enduring this). 

Take it a step further. Did they take a trip last year with just their daughter or mother to bond? Suggest they do it again this year and the next—make it an annual event. 

When I spoke with Kate Urekew of Boston-based Circles recently, she said that she’s finding clients are giving themselves permission to take trips that enable them to spend special time with certain family members or friends and they’re making it a regular practice, not just a one-time thing.

There’s a world of opportunity out there for you and your business. Just don’t delay the planning and consultation process or someone else who has started the year off with a rush of energy will beat you to it.