Alyssa Schaier from Courtyard Travel on Long Island, NY follows in our Secrets to Success series. Schaier, featured in our December 2016 Trendsetters issue, has been in the industry for only two years but lists customer acquisition among her top assets.
Using her experience in public relations, Schaier remains a proactive member of the industry, selling leisure travel to affluent families in the metropolitan area as well as corporate group travel.
- Be Proactive, not reactive—Even if you have a qualified client base, don’t fall complacent waiting at your desk for travel inquiries/requests. We still need to actively market ourselves and our services. I just started in the industry two years ago and it required me to actively market Courtyard Travel, my colleagues, our services and myself. Utilizing my public relations and marketing background to do what I knew best, I focused on interacting with people and community members that could become my clientele. That meant actively participating in clubs, fundraisers, local activities, etc. Marketing to those that already know and trust me is a big advantage.
- Promote yourself and your company—Create strategic promotions at local venues offering special supplier amenities not available online. To support these events, implement an email and social media campaign—it helps promote your agency, your unique services, and your supplier relationships. These techniques enable you to reach potential clients, even for those who were unable to attend. Additionally, personal postings on Facebook also reinforce promotional and travel ideas, with the added benefit of keeping one’s name out in the marketplace.
- Partner with your suppliers to bring targeted customers a unique experience—Partnerships help you nurture your relationships on both the supplier and client side. For example, last January I created a partnership between Courtyard Travel, Island Destinations and a boutique clothing store to create a venue to promote both travel opportunities and trends in resort wear. The event included a fashion show, a booth with information and promotional literature, wine and food. Promotion via local signage, emails, and social media targeted local clientele easily able to join, learn and enjoy.
- Make it personal—Living in the digital age makes it easy to lose the “human touch” due to reliance on email communication and computerized customer service. To be successful in any service industry, you need to resist the temptation to take the “easy route.” Recently, I was referred to a potential client who was considering an extensive trip throughout Asia but had never worked with me and was apprehensive. After doing extensive research to design a custom Asian package, I then set up a lunch meeting at her house. To show attention to detail and an appreciation that the “little things matter,” I brought Asian cuisine, beautifully packaged handcrafted chopsticks, and soy sauce holders. Not only did I get the booking but they have started to discuss future bookings with me.
- Monitor pricing—No matter how wealthy a client may be, nobody wants to unnecessarily overpay for services. I find that clients are constantly researching, both online and elsewhere, to compare prices to ensure they are getting a “good deal.” So, I too, need to know what is going on in the marketplace so I can be competitive and explain price points (and differences) when asked. At Courtyard Travel, we monitor all client bookings to make sure that if the “booked” price goes down, we can follow up to ensure the client can get the best rate and/or some other benefit. Clients appreciate it when they know you are looking out for them.
Make sure to keep checking out Luxury Travel Advisor for more Secrets to Success from our featured advisors!