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How to get an abundance of travel clients

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Every business wants an abundance of customers, and travel agents are no exception.

For most, the more clients the better: When some aren’t traveling, the others are and business doesn’t slow down at any point.

So how do you get those customers to come through the front door?

“It can be a challenge to increase your client base, especially if you’re a home-based agent and don’t have the benefit of a storefront with walk-in traffic,” said Sarah Garrett, a Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist with Garrett Travel in Vero Beach, Florida.

“One of the things that I have found that works for me are vendor events,” she said. “I joined my town’s Main Street Association. They have a Downtown Friday street festival once a month where I set up a booth. Hanging from my tent is a large, three feet in diameter, globe beach ball. It’s a fun display that people are drawn to, opening the door for a conversation about travel.”

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She asks passers-by if they would like to be added to her email list and admits she’s had good results from this, including several bookings.

Carol Nunnery agrees that agents really need to get out in their community.

“Year-after-year, there should be an increase in repeat business and referrals,” said Nunnery, a Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist with Nunnery Travels in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

“Joining local organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and a BNI Group (Business Networking International) will help an agent expand their sales force, build relationships with like-minded business people and create opportunities to cross-promote their brand with others.”

Nunnery advises agents to be consistent with follow up.

“By providing a level of service that is above and beyond anything anticipated, a business will surely flourish,” she said. “When I first purchased my travel agency, I would get dressed in my Dream Vacations apparel and go out shopping for leads. Sometimes I would set up my office in Panera or Starbucks. Other days I would walk the mall. I sought out opportunities where I could start conversations, and I looked for acquaintances with whom I might be able to share information about my new venture.”

Sandy Nussbaum-Giercyk said that travel agents should specialize to gain more clients.

“Know your product inside and out then be patient,” said Nussbaum-Giercyk, owner, Instant Impressions Travel Services. “Anyone can Google. You need to add value for your client, and you can do that by knowing your product, then providing honest in-depth feedback.”

“If everyone is doing email and social media, take time to put pen to paper and send a hand-written note,” said Chuck Flagg of Cruise Planners in Canton, Georgia. “Start with friends and family and do not ask them for the business, but for their referrals. The people who know you the best also love you and want to see you succeed. Tell them what you are doing now and ask them to help you.”

Sarah Fazendin writes about travel that brings in more customers.

“About half of my new leads are generated through my website,” said Fazendin, Family Travel Designer with Tafari Travel, Virtuoso in Denver, Colorado.

“Every week, I create a new piece of content that is search engine optimized and include a direct call to action at the end of every blog post. By the time someone has submitted their contact information to me, they have read about me and my travel agency online, are qualified and ready to talk about a specific destination or trip.”

If you want more customers, you need to learn how to market your business.

“Spend more time marketing your business than learning product/supplier information,” said Vanessa McGovern, CEO and Co-Founder of the Gifted Travel Network. “We see too many agents lost in webinars, seminars and certifications, and they think if they just attend one more webinar they will be able to get more clients. Wrong.”

McGovern suggests that travel agents learn how to market themselves: “We want to encourage agents to think of themselves more as marketers than agents. Believe there are clients to be sold to. Stop focusing on the lack of clients and the problems in our industry and start focusing on all the amazing amounts of opportunity that exist to have an endless flow of clients.”

Jacqui Whitt provides the simplest advice to gain more clients.

“Give the best service ever,” said Whitt of Adios Adventure Travel. “Follow up after each trip with a feedback survey. Send a list of relevant questions with yes and no answers with space for written comments. Send it by email. It should take less than three minutes to complete.

Margie Lenau of Wonderland Family Vacations in Grand Rapids, Michigan, advises to not overwhelm yourself. A specific campaign with a goal is better than not being specific.

“Be consistent,” she said. “Don’t market a special offer without marketing to a problem that can be solved. Using stories will keep your marketing interesting and personal. People can feel the emotion from the stories and may feel like they have a connection with you. The more you market, the better you will know your ideal clients and what will speak to them.”

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