Make Memories, Make a Difference, Make Money

Sometimes, people need a reason to travel. I’m not talking about needing rest or recuperation, I’m referring to needing a hook…going somewhere to get something they cannot get at home.

In this issue, our cover feature focuses on sports travel, which, if you break it down, is really a series of once-in-a-lifetime events. This is the type of travel that diehards will participate in one way or another, regardless of the economy. As the story says, if you give the client an excellent experience and help them create a lasting memory, you’ll have a loyal customer for years. Sounds a bit like the honeymoon market, doesn’t it?

It shouldn’t be too difficult to sway your clients toward traveling for a sports event they’re interested in; after all, it’s a fleeting moment they need to seize, because it’s not going to repeat itself.

Dig deep to find who among your clients are candidates for sports travel. Interview them the next time you speak to them. Who knows, maybe one of them has always wanted to be sipping mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby, or perhaps others are simply fanatical football fans who would do anything to see their team compete on the road. This isn’t simply about getting them a hotel and an airline ticket; here, it’s about building an itinerary that could include a stay in unique accommodations, behind-the-scenes tours, and the chance to network with those who have similar interests.

Along those lines, surely you know people who have gone to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, perhaps even sent them there yourself. But if those clients happened to be gay, have you been able to give them insider tips on which bars and parades they should look out for? Which hotels are gay-friendly? Which mainstream tour operator has developed a program specifically for gay travelers? It’s all in there.

Niche travel isn’t just about focusing on a unique portion of the travel market, it’s about servicing that niche in a manner that speaks to these travelers’ needs and, at the same time, wows them and delights them.

By the way, I think Deanna Sutherland Tracey of CDT Travel in Newburgh, NY, gets the award for go-getter of the year (so far). While Alaska is seeing some tough times of late, Deanna is pulling in the business by partnering with suppliers to host consumer events (did she really bring a wolf to one?). Perhaps, even more importantly, her passion for the destination is apparently contagious. She is selling what she loves and that’s resulting in higher profits for her agency.

Here’s to a great start for the New Year!