As a business owner who sold travel for over 10 years and now a coach, consultant and mentor for the past 4+ years, you can assume I’ve seen my fair share of mistakes in this business. Heck, I made them all myself. Like a safari guide who knows exactly how to track down the elusive leopard, I’ve been able to hone my own “sixth sense” with respect to achieving success in the business of selling travel. To help you avoid taking wrong turns, following useless paths and making the wrong moves, I have compiled my very own list of the Top 10 Mistakes Made By Entrepreneurs Selling Travel. Without further adieu, here they are:
1. No specialty
Experts make more money, plain and simple. Besides consumers don’t need a travel booker or agent. There are travelers that want an opinion, a filter, and advice…just take a look at the massive traffic TripAdvisor.com gets on a daily basis. The way you shift from being perceived as a travel agent to a travel advisor is by establishing yourself as an expert. Claim your expertise!
2. No message.
Once you have claimed your expertise, you must craft language about your expertise that speaks to your ideal prospect. Skipping this step results in a lot of talk about “how” you do what you do, instead of what and why you do it. A core compelling message is critical to making your marketing magnetic. You want to pull your ideal prospects to you, not chase and hunt them down. People don’t like being sold to. Crafting your core, compelling message is how you stop chasing clients and start attracting them.
3. Cheap-ing out on marketing.
This can include designing your logo or business cards yourself, not having a custom designed website, only using supplier-fed marketing to market your business, or looking for every co-op dollar you can find. Something I teach to my children that applies to your own business is “you get what you give.” So if you are going to cut corners, cut costs and cheap out on marketing your business, you will get clients who want to cut corners, cut costs and cheap out on their travel.
4. No systematic list building.
This is a biggie and a huge blind spot. Because there is so much “marketing” support offered to the independent contractor by consortia, franchises and host agencies in the form of supplier-fed marketing materials, many naturally — but incorrectly — assume their marketing is done. It’s not even close to done. How are you building your clientele? Those marketing materials are getting sent to the clients and contacts already on your list. But how is that list getting built consistently? When you skip list building, your business will grow at the rate of a snail, if at all. Put clear, deliberate list building systems into your marketing activities.
5. No systematic relationship building.
The number 1 reason clients leave is lack of attention. Are you giving your contacts and past clients attention? Are you building a relationship with them and establishing “know, like and trust?” As a business owner selling a service, you’d better be. The single best way to do this is through a weekly electronic newsletter following the GIFTE formula found in the Make Money Selling Travel Blueprint.
6. Believing you should do it alone.
I don’t know why we feel as entrepreneurs we should figure this out ourselves, do it all ourselves. But there certainly is a widely accepted belief in this industry that we should do it ourselves. Maybe it’s because of a scarcity mindset. Maybe it’s pride. Either way, it’s wrong. You don’t need to do it all by yourself nor should you. The most successful business owners surround themselves with the best support and communities.
7. Waiting to invest until you have the money.
Every single big investment I’ve made in my businesses happened BEFORE I’ve had the money to do it. Many people have it the wrong way around. They think the cash flow needs to show up and then they can hire the coach, and then they can hire the assistant, and then they can invest in the custom designed website. This is incorrect. You put out a desire, or a goal, and the universe will respond in the form of opportunity. When you say “no” to that opportunity, you are telling the universe you don’t really want that goal. Saying yes to a big investment can be one of the scariest moments in business ownership, but it often results in a big leap forward. I’m talking about the kind of leap you can’t get otherwise.
8. Not knowing your numbers.
So many people get into this business and unknowingly bring their employee mindset. Employees don’t have to know their numbers, unless that’s part of their job description. You are a business owner. The way you take control of the steering wheel and drive your business forward along the path to success is by being very clear on revenue targets, how much it costs to run your business, sales targets, average commission per booking targets, etc. Knowing this numbers and then tracking them is critical to the success of your business.
9. Giving away too much of your commission.
When you make mistake #8, mistake #9 is a side affect. In other words, when you don’t know your numbers, you will settle for a disempowering commission split and give away thousands of your hard earned dollars a year, without even a blink. And often, people let loyalty get in the way too. I’m going to be blunt. If you are selling $300,000 or more a year and you are NOT on a 100% commission split with a host or getting your own IATA credentials, you are losing thousands and thousands of dollars a year. I made this mistake too, and never looked back when I discovered it and moved to a 100% commission split with my host.
10. Not charging fees.
So many travel entrepreneurs are scared to death of charging fees. This comes from a major scarcity mindset rampant in the travel industry that was injected when online booking engines burst onto the scene. Charging a fee requires a different mindset. You are not a travel agent. You are a travel advisor. Not everyone wants your advice. Some people want the ease of using a booking engine. That’s OK. Not everyone is your ideal client. If you were a general contractor specializing in home remodels, you wouldn’t go looking for clients at Home Depot or even target them as your ideal. There are do-it-yourselfers and there are travelers who want help, advice, an opinion and someone to take care of the details. You provide immense value. If you want them to value it, charge them. For help on how to charge a service fee, check out my other blog article that offers a step-by-step script that GIFTE members have used and successfully charged thousands and thousands of dollars in service fees, http://www.travelbusinessu.com/converting-price-shoppers-into-valuable-clients
Are you making any of these mistakes? Give yourself a point for each one you are making. If you score is 1 or higher, then there is work to do. Get focused and go fix your mistake.