by Peter J. Bates

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Planning for the Rest of 2010

According to conversations I’ve had with my friends in the travel agent community, 2010 is shaping up to be a much better year than 2009, but many challenges still lie ahead as agencies look to climb the ladder of profitability. Doing better than last year is a huge plus, but the barometer you should measure yourself against is that of more profitable years from the recent past. We must keep reality in check.

Now that the first quarter of 2010 is over, I’ve outlined out what I perceive to be the five biggest challenges that remain for the year with some suggestions on how best to address them.

Challenge 1: Maintaining and Growing Your Client Base
Winning new clients and retaining current ones must remain a top priority. We all know very well that a healthy customer base is the foundation of a healthy business.

Stay connected via phone, e-mail and/or social media with your valued clients. Maintain ‘top of mind’ presence by keeping the lines of communication open. Impress your clients with how well you know them by presenting vacation suggestions sure to fit their individual tastes and preferences.

Encourage ‘word of mouth’ praise because the payoff to you is invaluable. Consider incentivizing your current clients to bring you new potential customers. That investment (in terms of an upgrade or special extra to enhance the luxury vacation experience) can yield huge rewards for you and your business.

Tap into local community events to build awareness of your depth of knowledge and the customized travel experiences you can deftly craft.