The Non-Vacationers

Ruthanne Terrero, vice president–content/editorial director

We’re at a point in the year where some of us have taken our big summer vacation and some of us haven’t. Those who haven’t are feeling pretty bad by now because they haven’t planned anything yet, or they simply haven’t had the time to get away

Have you ever noticed that there are those who just don’t know how to take a vacation? They don’t factor it in to their lifestyle; to them, a trip is one of the greatest splurges they could ever take. Or else they just come up with excuses not to go and act miserable about it. I sat behind a woman on the train recently who was chatting about her daughter’s trip to Hawaii. “She keeps sending me photos to make me jealous. It must be nice to be young!” she exclaimed.

Now I’m pretty sure that there are no age restrictions for travel to Hawaii and I’m also certain that this woman had the means to indulge on a trip; I’ve been sitting behind her on the Long Island Railroad for at least 20 years and she’s gone to work virtually every day.

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Apparently, her seat companion had the same thought. “So why don’t you go?” she said. What ensued was a tangled explanation that she and her sister were always trying to plan a getaway but couldn’t decide on where to go and the sister could only get five days off from work, etc. “Maybe we’ll go in January,” she concluded. Right, putting off your summer vacation by six months is always a good idea.

Travel advisors can reach this personality type by putting quick and easy travel opportunities in front of them. There should be no barriers with the transportation; the pricing shouldn’t be rock bottom, of course, but you should be able to provide plenty of value to the travel proposition, whether it’s free meals or transfers or a free hotel night. Your travel agency network likely has a plethora of amenities you can spell out in your promotions.

This type of clientele is likely to be found in your own neighborhood and they might not be looking online for ideas so direct mail is likely the best marketing method. The woman on the train said she and her sister were going to leaf through piles of brochures when they got together. She didn't mention the Internet at all.

Another tip? Don’t position the trip as an indulgence (that could evoke a sense of guilt); present it as a necessity. Every eight months or so my banker calls me to tell me my IRA CD is going to expire. That triggers my visit to her; if I don’t go in to sign up for something new, the bank will automatically roll my money in to another CD at whatever abysmal rate they’re offering at the moment. As a travel advisor you can provide a similar sense of urgency by framing for them the need to get away. “You don’t want to sit and watch everyone go away for their summer vacation and be the only one stuck at home,” would be one good way of putting things.

Appeal to their bragging rights by offering them opportunities that others won’t have access to, such as special events happening during a specific cruise, or free air that’s available up to a certain date. If all else fails, bring up the “you only live once” factor and combine it with “you can’t take it with you.”

Last Note: The women on the train were also comparing what they’ve heard about river cruises but neither seemed to know that much about them. If either had a decent travel agent, they’d likely have been quoting him or her big time. Thing is, they just haven’t been discovered by the right advisor yet.

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