Here is a depressing statistic – the average income for a travel agent is $35,000 per year. I don’t know about you, but that is not enough to get me very excited. If it was per MONTH, then yes. But per year? No way Jose!
If that’s average, that means there are a lot of people selling travel making LESS than that. Why isn’t anybody having a temper tantrum about this? It seems as though the entire industry is willing to put up with such pathetic and uninspiring possibilities. There are days I want to shake everyone and say “Wake up! You can do better! It’s possible. And if you follow the right steps, this industry is bursting with so much potential that it’s a no-brainer to make enough money to support you and give you the freedom you so desperately want.”
But don’t take it from me. I recently had the pleasure of allowing some of my students in the Travel Entrepreneurs Success Academy (TESA) share with their fellow TESA members the number 1 strategy they attribute to their growth in sales. Incidentally, all three of these students have experienced at least a tripling of their sales in the last year. If you are looking for a strategy to triple your sales this year, have a read through of these three different strategies that worked for my students.
Strategy #1 – Turn Away Business
What? Sounds counter-intuitive right? But in fact, when done right, turning away the wrong business almost always leads to a substantial increase in sales. Why? Because of a spiritual law, “when you let go of something of a lower nature, you make room to receive something of a higher nature.”
Now, for you grounded, left brain, logical thinkers, I’ll give you a more practical explanation as to why turning away business leads to a substantial increase in sales. Focus. Before you turn away business, you must do a strategic analysis of your numbers. Figure out how much money your business needs to run on a day-to-day basis, but also to pay you a monthly salary, cover your travel expenses, cover your education, marketing, etc. Total it up. Put it all in there and find the grand total of how much money your business needs to run and pay you what you deserve.
Once you know that number, you now know how much revenue you need to generate. That’s your revenue goal. From there, you can extrapolate a sales goal. For example, if your revenue goal is $100,000 and you average 12% commission on your sales (and you are on a 100% commission split with your host agency with a monthly fee which has been accounted for in your annual expense estimate), your sales goal should be $833,000 for the year, ($100,000/0.12). When you know your yearly sales goal, you can break it down and establish a goal for how many bookings and the booking size. For example, if $833,000 is your sales goal and you have some idea of how many bookings you can handle per month, you might then establish a goal of doing 10 bookings per month with a booking size of $7,000.
These goals are pure gold. Why? Focus and clarity. Once you know what you are going after and why, it makes it super easy to turn away business that is not going to get you closer to your goal. Assuming 10 bookings per month of $7,000 or more was your goal, it is very easy to turn down a request for a 3 night getaway to Las Vegas whose booking size is likely to be less than $1,000.
Strategy #2 – Network
Yes, this might be the oldest marketing trick in the book, but most people do it wrong and then erroneously assume it doesn’t work. When you network correctly, it can have massive results for you. So how do you network correctly? Here are some quick tips.
First, just get out there. Stop waiting until everything is perfect. Don’t worry if your website is not ready or needs tweaking. Don’t worry if you are not totally clear on your message. Just get out there and start connecting with other people in your community and online. My TESA student Shannon LeBlanc recommends committing to attending 2 networking opportunities per week. Both don’t have to be group networking events. You could do 1 networking event and 1 lunch or coffee with a single business owner.
Second, come from a place of giving and not getting. Go with an attitude of “how can I be of service to other members of my business community?” When you help someone else, it naturally leads to them wanting to help you. So when you speak to people, be curious and listen. Let go of the need to get your message out there to enough people. When done in this order, they will give you a chance to share. Just be patient.
Third, stop expecting immediate results. Networking is a long term strategy. The results will pay off and they are likely to pay off royally, but it may take 12 – 18 months before they do. Or even longer. In addition, stop looking at your networking as being a direct route to sales. Many, many times, your networking will lead to great B2B partnerships which will eventually lead to a huge boost in sales. But the partnership would not have happened if you hadn’t done the networking.
Strategy #3 – Put 1 Group in Your Revenue Mix (or 1 more group)
Every single person selling travel should have at least 1 group per year. This will give you an enormous boost in revenue. One group can net you well more than the $35,000 average income of the travel agent. A lot of people want to do groups, but they just don’t know how to get them. So here are some tips.
First, find a great partner with a seriously loyal following, or an international event with a “die hard” affinity. Trying to a fill a group on your own just because it looks like a great offer is just plain naive. You’d have better odds in Las Vegas hitting the slot machines (and it would be a lot more fun.) Start with your own passions. For example, when I did my first group of 21 people to South Africa, I built it around my passion for personal and spiritual growth and found a pied piper who has a very big, engaged and loyal following. A GIFTE member who loves to square dance found a high-profile square dance caller and ended up doing a 200 person cruise. Or if sports are your thing – consider finding an international sports event and finding places where those die-hard fans hang out. There are endless ideas. But you have to make it happen. It won’t just come to you. Get creative.
Second, give your partner a bigger incentive than “free travel” for being the host. For example, if you partner with a non-profit organization who is willing to promote a travel experience to their donors, make sure the fundraising is a home run – even if that means adding a hefty surcharge to the per person cost of the travel experience. When I partnered with my pied piper, I paid him a fee in excess of $5,000.
Third, get your partner to put “skin in the game.” If there is a deposit required, get the partner to pay it. Have them pay for their flights out of their own pocket. The monetary incentive should more than cover their travel cost, so it’s a timing thing. But the skin in the game makes them more likely to do the marketing needed to fill the trip.
Today, it’s time to act like a business owner. If you are unhappy with the financial results you are getting in your business, you can do something about it. You are not a victim. The travel business is bursting with opportunity. You just need to go and get it. Perhaps one of these 3 strategies (or a combination of them) will be the game changer in your business this year.