7 Ways for Travel Agents to Ride Out the Slow Season
Welp. Travel agents have found themselves in a serious pandemic predicament. After a flurry of supporting clients to (hopefully) rebook their travel plans during COVID-19, travel has come to a screeching halt. I decided to update and unearth this article about how to bide your time during the slow season1.
It offers resources and ideas on how you can keep clocking in the hours to so your agency will be ready to thrive once people start traveling again. Not only that, but it will help you keep your mind occupied during this challenging time!
Turns out, there are better ways to bide your time than watching your phone and refreshing your email every five minutes while you chew your nails to the quick.
Hang in there. People will travel again, and they'll want to use a travel agent more than ever. Read on and let your worries go on vacation!
1. Build Your Website:
Travel Weekly reported in a 2016 Travel Consumer Survey that 47% of consumers found their agent online. Even if you get most your clients through referrals, it's likely they'll check out your website.
Not tech savvy? No worries. With HAR's guide on making a Wix website in under an hour, you'll have a professional (and gorgeous) website up in no time. The article includes step-by-step videos on how to get your site up and running. (Seriously, it was so easy even I could do it, and this is coming from someone who didn't have a computer in the house until she was almost finished with high school.)
2. Add a Few Bells & Whistles to Your Website:
Okay, so you have your Wix site set up like like a boss. Now what?! Here's a few resources you can use to make your website work harder for you (so you don't have to). Here's a few resources to help bulk up your site:
- Free Forms for Travel Agents: These amazing embeddable (is that a word?!) forms can be customized to your agency and loaded up onto your website in fewer than 5 minutes. They’ll help you easily identify your clients’ interests, make sure you haven’t overlooked any critical details. Put in a little time now to save a ton of time (and potentially heartache) over the long haul.
- Where to Find Free Travel Images for Websites: More images? Yes please! While Wix templates offers a ton of free images to use for your site, more free images can't hurt.
And this brings us to your social media presence . . .
3. Develop Your Social Media Presence:
Now that our lives are ruled by social distancing, it's even more critical to develop our online presence. We want clients to know that we're still around, ready and willing to book trips for later 2020 and beyond.
Besides, let's admit it: There is no better way to kill time than going on social media. With this resource, you can kill time more productively.
While your agency’s social media posts may not always directly translate to sales, a social media presence is a must to give a little boost to your branding and help clients get to know you. This article gives a hard look at your social media and explores where you can find your clientele.
4. Find Future Travel Agent Events:
It's hard to think about attending a travel conference when you're not allowed to be a room with more than a handful of people. But this is a good time to investigate what events and conferences are out there. Not only that, but HAR's events calendar has a ton of free webinars so travel agents can still connect virtually.
Longing for the day when you can see other travel agents face to face? We have a resource about how to get the most mileage out at a trade show or conference. So even if you're not hitting the road right now (*sigh*), this will help you decide what kind of conferences are best for you at this stage in your career.
5. Get Connected:
Networking doesn’t have to be scary. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be done face to face. Slow times are a good excuse to branch out, develop a new skill that might sharpen your marketing and meet new people.
This article has a few tips and tricks to help you boost your work community so you don’t have to feel like you’re all by your lonesome. That way if you begin to flounder in the high season (or low season), you’ll have built-in supports.
6. Dream Big
While this business plan is ideal for newer agents who are still developing their agency model, it's also perfect for more seasoned agents who want to reflect on their business and create future goals for their agency.
This travel agency business plan will help you in three big ways:
- It's Practical: it will help you feel prepared and confident as you make important business decisions.
- It's Inspirational: it will help remind you what it is that inspired you to start a travel agency and what kind of impact you hope to have on your clients. The kinds of things that will remind you why you started all these shenanigans when logistical tasks like taxes get boring or complicated.
- It helps you understand (and articulate) your own business: The other thing a travel agency business plan can do? It will help you describe your agency—the service you provide (do you have a niche?), the market in which you’re operating, the money you need to get started and keep going, and the people you need to help you get there (accountants? Sub agents? Bookkeeper? Web Developer?)
7. Create a Travel Agency Crisis Management Plan:
No one wants to think about the worst case scenario, but important to take a good hard look at how your agency is equipped to respond to challenging times.
This resource will help you develop a plan on how to respond to critical situations, so your agency can respond quickly when hard times hit.
Just for Funsies (A Cute Camel Picture):
I need a little palate cleanser after talking about a pandemic. Here's a vintage2 picture of a bored camel that we used in the original post:
Travel Agents Weigh In
With the travel economy on hold, this is a tough time for travel agents. In our Travel Agent Think Tank Facebook Group, we asked how agents were planning on moving forward with their agencies during this downturn. Here's what four insightful travel advisors had to say:
- Tammy O'Hara: "I am automating more of my processes. My VA [virtual assistant] and I will be writing emails that I can plug into my CRM [Customer Relations Manager] system to send to clients as they book. I am also moving my legal class for travel agents onto an online teaching platform so I can scale that business and I am revamping my IC [independent contractor] training program again to automate and scale that process."
- Madeline Jhawar: I am creating content, curating photos, documenting processes. I have decided to NOT chase overdue hotel commissions. I am also keeping the weekly scheduled calls with my team (2 people in Italy) even though we don't have much work. It's important to keep the momentum and the habits going. I am also reaching out to clients "just to keep in touch".
- Terrassa Scott:
- Proactively reached out to a client to see if he still wanted to proceed with his Europe trip as currently planned or hold off due to the current events. I wanted him to know I was thinking about him and not dollar signs. He appreciated that.
- Finally working on a lead magnet and email marketing
- Doing some business mindset work, revisiting my brand's voice and story
- Doing more strategic thinking of some things I want to incorporate into this business and how I will transition to full time in the next 3-5 years.
Want to see the entire discussion? Join our group and check out the thread right here. I'm personally impressed by how these talented advisors aren't slowing down even when travel is temporarily on pause. It can be difficult to focus during these tough times, but it's a good opportunity to pause, reflect on your business and put in the time to automate processes, build your travel agent blog, benchmark your business, and streamline your processes.
What are some of the things you do during downtime to help your agency move ahead when things pick back up? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!