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It’s only a few weeks away from a New Year and a new beginning, where everyone seems to make resolutions and set goals. Travel agents are no exception.
Greg Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours, said he needs to carve out more time to introspect. “Not just at our quarterly board meeting or around the time of New Year's resolutions, but on a regular basis,” he said. “It's too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of running smarTours, and it's essential to step away. If not, you can easily get distracted and lose sight of what's important.”
He also plans on empowering his team to do more. “Not because I want to do less, but because I'm excited about how much more we can do together,” he said.
Many travel agents want to increase their clientele and focus on pumping up their bottom line in the new year. “I want to increase my sales and specialize in group destination weddings,” said Olga Leonetti of Travel the Skies. “Groups and destination weddings have many advantages for clients from reduced vacations, free upgrades, and amenities, and so on.”
“My goals for 2017 are to increase my revenue, focus on finding the ideal client, and expand my knowledge of cruise lines,” said Carol Born, Born for Travel.
Sandra Scott of JFM Travel reflected on this past year to see what worked and what needed improvement in order to increase her sales. “I want to market how my services are unique from my competitors and build a stronger and closer relationship with my customers,” she said. “I want to have a more personal relationship with them by focusing on their wants, needs and desires when on vacation. I will be more attentive, patient and a good listener.”
To bring in more clientele, Scott wants to learn more about the Wedding Destination market by working with different vendors in the bridal industry, bridal shops, bridal shows, photographers, and bakeries, etc. “I want to continue my specialist courses with the different cruise lines, CLIA and resorts,” said Scott. “Also, to continue to read articles about the ever-changing travel industry and keep up with the newest and most innovative technology. Staying knowledgeable in the travel industry builds confidence on what you are marketing to sell.
Rebecca Hochreiter, Destination Weddings Travel Group, said that one of her top goals for Destination Weddings Travel Group next year is to continue to enhance offerings, such as a wide variety of excursions and exclusive perks. “We’re finding that 2017 destination wedding customers are prioritizing the ability to personalize their celebration while equally valuing the many conveniences that come with hosting the event away from home, especially at luxury all-inclusive resorts,” she said.
Troy Ray has some personal goals he wants to achieve. "My personal goals for 2017 would be to take better care of myself and to get in shape,” said Ray, Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist. “I feel this would affect my business as well. We sometimes get overwhelmed by the amount of work we have to do on our business and it is easy to lose the focus to take care of ourselves. I believe if we do not feel 100 percent, our business does not get 100 percent.”
Rhonda Day of Dream Vacations wants to work more effectively. “I want to delegate administrative tasks that take so much of my time so I can spend most of my time promoting and prospecting for new business,” she said. “Personally, I want to take at least one day a week that is truly a day of rest. This may mean the other six days are pushing even harder to make that seventh day work, but we all need time to recuperate and clear our minds,” she said.
Judy Nidetz of Travel Experts also wants to reach out to those clients who she has not heard from in some time. “I'd like to re-establish a personal connection and remind them I am still here for them for whatever travel needs they might have,” she said. “I tend to get wrapped up in the day-to-day keeping up with current bookings, helping new referrals and checking my daily calendar and perhaps not remember to stay connected to my core group of clients.”
A big takeaway for R.D. Gavel, of Travel Repertoire, over the past year has been the proliferation of programs and products designed to lure travelers away from advisors by promising a more personalized experience.
“Since relationships lie at the core of what we do, I’ve been thinking about ways to drive that point home,” said Gavel. “Having just returned from a month out of the country, and writing about the experiences on a daily basis, I realized that we each bring an individual point-of-view that can’t be duplicated by an anonymous data-driven or crowd-sourced site. My impressions of a property, a cruise line, a destination, a tour company, or a transportation provider will be unique and I can use that information both to inform and inspire my clients. With an understanding of the client and first-hand experience, I can do this better than any website, app, travel club, or online forum. And, my clients will receive this information from a source they already know and trust.
Gavel’s goal is to dial up travel in the coming months, broadening the personal repertoire with new experiences that Gavel can share.
Sarah Fazendin, Travel Designer, is committed to speaking on behalf of the travel agent community. In 2017, it is the year for modern-day travel agents to make our mark,” she said. “I'm eager to speak about the value great travel agents provide in my community, networks, in the media, at events, etc.”
Another goal is to dial into her online marketing to generate a regular and reliable flow of qualified leads. “I'll do this by focusing on growing my email list 10x during the next year and creating regular weekly content that is laser-focused on the needs of this list,” she said.
Robin Amster contributed to this story.