Think — And Sell — Strategically
During Wave Season were you unable to book your customers on the trips they wanted because the cruises were sold out?
This is a common complaint, especially among newer travel professionals who tend to be focused on what’s available in the here and now, having not yet realized the value of planning further out. I was the same way when I started in retail travel sales. My very first sale was a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles leaving only a month later.
So I get it – but we nonetheless need to look to the future, which is just around the corner in September, October and November. According to popular wisdom, the biggest booking month in terms of dollar volume is October – yes, October!
The fall is when you make or break your business. Suppliers will begin the initial push for their summer and fall products – Europe and Alaska – for the next year. Both destinations typically carry a high price point (and commission) and require a greater time commitment from the customer.
As a strategic seller, you should always be thinking about bookings eight to 10 months ahead of departure date. Peak season for Alaska and Europe is July and August. You should begin focusing your 2017 sales efforts now by blocking and selling space for those summer months – especially for luxury cruise products.
As a general rule, you should have at least 60 percent of all your business for next year booked by January 1. In doing so, you will be able to predict cash flow with a certain amount of accuracy so you won’t have to scramble for last-minute sales to pay the bills. Unfortunately, businesspeople are not willing to implement what they learn and as a result nothing changes. If you focus on selling last-minute Caribbean cruises, or anything else consumers will buy from you, you are not thinking tactically. Make the commitment to the future today.
FIND A MENTOR
For agents who are new to the business, finding a mentor can play a Key role in your future successes. I was fortunate to have Jill Forde, my first business development manager (BDM) at Royal Caribbean and later Princess Cruises, to mentor me.
To this day, I consider her to be among the best BDMs in the business. Her guidance kept me from making one of the biggest mistakes I see so many agents make: the failure to strategically plan for sales.
We've all got bills to pay - perhaps some of them right away - but we nevertheless need to look beyond last-minute sales and into the future because the future is now. This is the lesson I learned from Jill.
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A version of this article appears in print in the June 2016 issue of Agent@Home Magazine.
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