In this issue we’re once again focusing on giving you advice to increase your bottom line, now. I wish I could say there’s a magic bullet, but the fact is you’ll probably have to engage in a number of new strategies to become more profitable.
Victoria Boomgarden of Best Travel, who co-moderated the panel that’s featured in our “Bottom Line” cover story on pages 38-42, gave me a few more tips on this topic that I’d like to expand upon here.
1. Sell pre- and post-cruise tour options. You’re selling cruises, but are you creating an itinerary that will provide land experiences as well? Whether the port of embarkation is Miami, Rome or San Juan, be sure you’re booking a commissionable stay for two nights prior to the ship’s departure. As for the disembarkation city…I’ve rarely extended my stay after a cruise but I ’ve always sighed with envy when I’ve heard someone on the ship say they’re taking a few extra days to explore the region of our final port of call. Encourage your client to do this; they’ve traveled all that way, why not enjoy? If you don’t book it through the cruise line, try one of the tour operators with whom you work.
2. When you contact your clients with post-trip follow-ups, be ready to suggest their next adventure and be sure it’s relevant. What information do you have on them in your database? Did they once express a longing to see Tahiti before they die? This doesn’t have to be the trip of a lifetime; the deals are out there now and you need to tell them that.
3. Have you considered handling nontraditional travel agent services for your clients, such as managing client mileage programs? There are no rules here about selling only travel. What can you charge that will make your clients’ lives easier?
I’ve just spent a few days at ASTA’s THETRADESHOW. I can’t say the show floor was teeming with agents, but the sessions on social networking were standing room only. I attended one seminar on Twitter where travel agents of all ages and experience levels took fastidious notes. I must admit that some looked as if they were taking their written driving test at the DMV and a handful left in frustration halfway through. But I want to reassure you that if you’ve sat in on a number of Twitter sessions, whether at trade shows or online, and still haven’t mastered it, don’t despair. It’s an evolving technology and there’s no wrong way to use it; what you’re trying to do is establish yourself as an expert in the great big travel universe. You can do that by posting links to interesting travel articles and by making insightful comments on the news of the day that impacts travel. If you’re intriguing enough, those who read your posts (tweets) will look at your About Me section and click through to your website. How cool is that?
As an example, here are some folks I follow on Twitter because I find that the articles they give links to are extremely interesting: @susanpohlman (for Italy travel), @CruiseLaw (for cruise/law related topics, @cruisebuzz, @BrooklynNomad, @LabesTravel and @enchantedtravel.