Diana M. Hechler, president of D. Tours Travel in Larchmont, NY, has been a home-based agent for six or seven years, depending on how you count it. Says Hechler: "I launched officially in May 1999, when I incorporated D. Tours Travel. However, I really just did a few group tours that first year, and my real home-based travel concierge service began in the fall of 2000."
She arrived at that career choice in the most natural possible way: she loved travel, especially to Europe, and over the years, her family and friends asked repeatedly for advice on their trips to Europe and other destinations. Hechler decided she might as well get paid for it.
When asked what her biggest challenge has been in getting her home-based business off the ground, she replies: "My biggest challenge as a home-based agent has been to figure out how to maximize my publicity and marketing efforts. Newspaper and other print media do not provide sufficient return for advertising investments (although I had to learn that the hard way), so how do you reach new clients without a storefront?"
Hechler goes on to say, "I have a huge referral component to my business, which is gratifying. I consider that a reflection on not only the service that I provide, but also a comparison to what is out there in the on-line travel community as well as the one-size-fits-all approach of some of the mass-market purveyors."
Other methods she has used include a quarterly newsletter, "which I send to pretty much everyone I've ever heard of." She says this "has been a huge boon to my business. It's not at all about the latest specials, but is rather information and an insider's focus on particular destinations. The idea is 'news you can use.' In the Spotlight
"Even if a prospect/ client is not traveling to that destination in the near future, the information is sufficiently useful (and not found in a standard guidebook) that they'll save the newsletter for a trip down the road. Last year, I had a new client—from whom I had never heard before—show me her collection of all of my newsletters from the previous 3 years! I also use the newsletter to pique interest in destinations that I like to promote and sell: Italy, Costa Rica, Scotland, major European cities, etc." Contact Hechler at [email protected]