A focused marketing strategy and relationship-based CRM combined with productivity gains from better use of technology are among the suggestions offered by Sharon Meyer, Trams, Inc.’s COO for building stronger post recession agencies. Meyer oversees Trams operations, which now serves more than 45,000 agents and 11,000 agency locations and is a major technology provider.
Meyer believes travel agents need to learn how to “get more from less” in the current downturn as they determine what is truly important for them. They have discarded the rest and eliminated anything that is a drain on time, energy and resources. Agents must affirm core values, she believes, and use technology tools.
“As a result of the current economic environment, plenty of people have been forced to re-examine and simplify out of necessity," Meyer said. "Although this kind of involuntary simplicity is not easy, many are finding there can be benefits drawn from it. So, is it possible the economic downturn can be turned into an opportunity to make permanent changes in our habits that actually improve our lives, our businesses and even our bottom lines? During turbulent times many agencies re-examine priorities and as a result often make fundamental changes that they otherwise may not have been able to make. Usually the priorities that surface result as a clearer understanding of the agency’s core values, which often include things like fostering relationships, focusing business strategies and developing employees - all of which end up benefiting the business long term."
Meyer offers her insights quarterly online at www.trams.com.
“Achieving simplicity implies that that the act itself is simple, it actually takes planning, effort and follow-through." Meyer continued. "With that in mind, I thought I would share some ideas on how agents may be able to simplify and ultimately get more from less with your Trams tools. Spend less time on business you don’t want to sell by driving in more business you do. In a perfect world travel agents would only have to sell the desired type of travel from the desired supplier partners to the desired clients. Although there is no such thing as a perfect world, a focused marketing strategy will help you come closer to accomplishing this. We’ve heard countless times that sending a smaller number of promotions to a more targeted audience generates a bigger response!
"Create a culture that puts a big value on the smallest of client details so that your database enables this type of targeted marketing, [and] feel less pressure to acquire new clients by retaining more existing clients,” Meyer continued, citing a recent ASTA study that suggests that one in five clients book a trip with a travel agency and then never return. “Statistics also suggest that it costs 5 times more to acquire a new client than to maintain an existing one. Simple math demonstrates that agencies that create relationship-focused strategies by actively reaching out, are rewarded by their increased client retention. These agencies have created company-wide standards for things like following up on trip inquiries, welcoming new clients, thanking clients for bookings, welcoming clients home from trips, rewarding client referrals and periodic touch-base calls.
“Focus on less clutter and get more done," Meyer suggests. "Look around your office to determine to the amount of de-cluttering that’s needed. If your desks and monitors are buried in files, rolodexes and sticky notes, it’s time to rethink things. Your database is your tool for centralizing all of your information including your to-do lists. Produce less waste by requesting more electronically. Make a dedicated effort to move to a less paper-centric office and not only will you reduce your printing, paper and shipping costs, but you’ll increase productivity, all while helping the environment. Still receiving paper bills, statements, confirmations and documentation? Where possible request electronic versions."
Meyer encourages agents to share their ideas on getting more from less by -emailing her at [email protected] or posting a message on the new Trams Facebook. Meyer also reminds Trams users that Trams 2010 TMU will be held April 13-15 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.