|Vice President—Content/ Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
One morning, I needed to get to Manhattan about an hour earlier than usual, which simply required taking a 7 a.m. train on the Long Island Railroad. But still I worried about it all weekend. Would it still be dark out there when I left for the station? Would there be other people there? Yes, I was apprehensive about doing something new, world traveler that I am.
When I did get to the station—way before 7, having left plenty of time for potential mishaps that would be spurred by my ignorance of this strange new commute—there were about 100 people there, all chatting animatedly to one another. One group I stood next to was planning a golf outing. All were greeting each other as their fellow train buddies arrived at the platform; they seemed quite chipper about being together again following the weekend. Quite a switch from the crowd I commute with, let me tell you. We all silently hang our heads with the thoughts of the oncoming day as we wait for the train.
How funny it was to do what I always do, but at a different time. It’s as if these people and I were leading parallel lives together in separate universes.
The realization made me wonder if, as travel advisors, you should do something similar with the idea of expanding your client base. By that I mean, frequent the country club (if that’s where you network), but go earlier or on a different day so that you meet a new crowd. Give talks at the library about your recent trips, but schedule them at completely varying times to reach entirely different slices of the population—perhaps stay-at-home parents who plan their family’s travel? Or, instead of presenting during the work week, slot a time on the weekend to try to reach couples who prefer to assess their travel options together.
Think of it: The group I just came upon on the train this morning takes golf outings. That’s an active crowd. As I listened to chatter on the ride in, I inferred that many of them have jobs with very specific hours, like 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Several were chatting about future weekend plans and their annual seasonal summer excursions. Suppose that you fall into a crowd like this in your new networking efforts, you could strike gold.
By the way, I was headed to the city to listen to a presentation by Peter Yesawich, vice chairman of MMGY Global. The 2013 Portrait of American Travelers study that Yesawich presented was from a predictive survey of 2,300 people who were queried every 90 days on their plans to travel. The good news is that over the past few months, travel sentiment is the highest it’s been in five years. Reasons for the positivity, said Yesawich, is that GDP growth forecast for the next few years is quite strong. Moreover, potential worrisome global events, such as aggression from North Korea appears to have been abated. Bottom line? “You should be forecasting growth for your business for the next few years,” he said.