Five Actions to Take Before the Year Ends

 

Ruthanne Terrero
Memories of Sorrento: Today was the first cold snap we've had in New York. In my opinion, it's a bit early, but the cooler weather will definitely be turning your clients’ minds to thoughts of the Caribbean for this winter or the Mediterranean for next summer. Give them a call now to discuss their next vacation. Heck, talking about the weather is always a great ice breaker. Be sure to share with them photos of your travels in 2009 to inspire them. By the way, I'm shown here on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy.

 

1. Do you have an amazingly low-key client you’ve been servicing for years? They never complain and, in fact, you no longer bother to call the hotel prior to their arrival because you know they’re unfazed by anything.

If this sounds familiar, you may risk losing them because you’re taking their business for granted. Someday, they may travel with a friend whose travel advisor has not only verified their accommodations but put in a special word for them with the general manager. Their friend may be getting little perks throughout the itinerary they’re sharing with your client, such as an upgrade to a better room, late checkout or extra turn-down amenities. They might even be personally greeted by the general manager as they enter the hotel as  your client, who is paying the same room rate, silently stands by. Your client, because you didn’t call ahead, may have even had a mix up in their room arrangements when they arrived, but you’ll never hear about it because they never complain.

If you even suspect you have such a potential problem with any of your clients, I recommend you get in touch with them right now, thank them for their business and put them on you’re A-list where all of your more demanding customers reside.

2. Sure, your client list is international because you’re virtual, thanks to the Internet, but have you noticed that a new family has moved in down the street from you? This is the time to welcome them to the neighborhood without the use of cyberspace. Send them a personal welcome note, show up at their doorstep with a cake and your card or see if there is a Welcome Wagon group in your town that you can participate in. Good old-fashioned neighborly hospitality is still a good forum on which to build your business.

3. Take a look at your business mix. Are you missing out on any travel niches? This could be adventure travel, walking vacations, girlfriend getaways, any of the buzzwords you wish you knew more about, when you hear about them at a tradeshow. Make a list of the niches you’d like to get involved with and identify the travel companies that provide the service. This is often easy enough if you belong to a consortium that has preferred vendors. Then, identify each of those advisors in your agency who can take on a new business segment, or hire a new advisor who can take on all of the new segments with enthusiasm.

4. After a year like 2009 you may not feel as though you should be in hiring mode but this is a great time to capture new talent. I’m not suggesting that you steal personnel from other agencies but you should at least know who works for your competition. After the sheer physical labor it’s taken to get through some of the challenges this year has wrought, some advisors may be looking for a fresh start with a new partner.

5. Along those lines, you should keep in mind that some of your own travel advisors may be feeling the same way, that perhaps a switch to a new environment would be the best thing for them. Maybe they had to work longer hours because the price of their clients’ trips kept going down and all they have to show for it is a lower take-home pay than last year. Identify the talent you want to keep and sit with them to determine how you can help their business in 2010. Often, people will leave a job because they don’t feel there’s any room for them to grow. Sometimes they just don’t feel they’re getting respect.  Find out what makes your top advisors smile and craft a career path for them in your agency.