It started with Disney—doesn’t it always—and before she knew it, Amy Garner was introduced to the world of booking outside of theme parks and that’s when business really took off. Well, until the pandemic came. Despite the pandemic blip, Wicked Travel Concierage is looking to hit $1M in sales for 2023!
Coming from a “neuro spicy” family, Amy came into travel wanting to help other families like hers that felt like anxiety, ADHD, autism, etc. were roadblocks to visiting Disney. She’s a firm believer that if there’s a reason you think travel is inaccessible to you, let’s have a conversation about it and see what we can do. Then she works her magic.
In the last 5 years, Amy’s expertise and passion for accessible travel has grown beyond neurodiverse clientele and Amy openly shares her favorite accessibility resources as well as how she opens up the conversation with clients about any travelers with special needs. Whether it being plus sized, grandpa traveling with a colostomy bag, or anything else, Amy shines light on the different ways advisors can help all their clients be a part of and enjoy the vacation.
Amy also shows us her email automation workflows for her clients—which she sets up for each destination and sometimes vendor—allowing her to spend more time getting to know her clients and providing that human touch.
Everyone is welcome on this ride to learn about how a Disney-loving advisor opened up her agency to new destinations like Europe that many advisors think of as traditionally less accessible than cruises or US-based destinations and is reaping the benefits!
We ❤️ reviews!
- It's live! Take our annual survey!
- Amy's Host Week presentation: Want to learn more about accessible travel? Amy's HW presentation is just the thing!
- Amy's Viral TikTok Video: Their family's Disney tradition that went viral.
- FB Accessible Travel Network: One of Amy's go-to resources.
- Wheel the World: Accessible travel supplier with affiliate program for TAs.
- Kristy Durso (FB): Accessible travel influencer and travel advisor that is a great resource for those looking to learn more about accessible travel.
- Calendly: A appointment scheduling software Amy likes.
- Travefy: Amy's #1 tech for her agency she can't live without.
[00:00:12] Steph: You are listening to Travel Agent Chatter Volume 26. Travel Agent Chatter is an audio series produced by the team here at Host Agent Agency Reviews each and every quarter. Today's guest of travel was rooted in her childhood visits to Disney, but it wasn't long before she discovered that there was a whole lot of travel outside of Disney that she could sell and sell.
She does because despite the pandemic, this advisor is on track for $1 million in sales in 2023 and is an inspiration to any advisor that is looking to learn more about accessible. She is on a mission to educate advisors about resources beyond, no matter how great it is, special needs at cs, there are things beyond that, and she is on a mission to help advisors become more comfortable with travelers from a wide range of accessibility needs.
So, we will give you a clue and let you know that A) accessible travel is not as scary as you might. B) it goes beyond wheelchairs and scooters and C) it all starts with a conversation. Lastly, we are going to have her spill and show us how she puts in the work upfront to maximize her CRMs, email, workflow automations, so that she can spend more time with our clients and really get to know.
There's a lot to cover in this episode, but before we do mark your calendars, because HARs annual survey is opening, so join nearly 15 other 1500 other advisors that take the time to fill out our survey so that we can publish these free reports that really help advisors benchmark their agency.
You might have used this in the past, and they also help the industry see the trends on the business to business, the leisure side of the travel. The survey opens mid-April, but regardless of whether you're listening to this now or in the future, go to host agency reviews.com/survey where you go find either the survey, if it's open or if it's closed for the year.
You'll find a place where you can sign up for reminders when the survey opens, and even better yet, you can also sign up for reminders where you can be the first to know when we drop our annual. So, we have heard through the grapevine that our 50 plus page reports, as you know, we take things very seriously here at Har.
So, 50 plus pages On our reports, we've heard that they are pretty darn dreamy and they are dripping with delicious data, which I would also agree with. So, we will put that link in the show notes for easy access. And now you have no excuse not to sign up. It's just a click away.
Without further ado, let's get onto the show.
Meet Amy Garner of Wicked Concierge
[00:02:53] Steph: All right, well happiest days to all of you. Spring is finally here in Minnesota, even though we've still got about a foot of snow on the ground in late March. But I am confident that we'll start to see signs of life soon if the pattern of past millennia are any indication. So, fingers crossed on that.
I am Stephanie, the founder of Host Agency Review, and today’s. So what do we have in store for you today? Well, a whole lot of fun and of course education is always. For those of you who are listening in that are newer to the industry, today's guest is inspirational in the growth of our agency with January 2023, sales already half of her sales for 2022.
And Amy is hoping that 2023. Is going to be her million dollars in sales year. I am hoping so too. We are going to hear about how her Disney TikTok video recording of a family tradition went viral. How email workflows save her time so she can focus her energies on her clients and giving that human touch.
And then we'll also getting your learning on when it comes to being, how to be a better travel. For those of your clients that may have special needs, so whether it be someone that has a child or someone in their family with autism, a client that may have mobility issues or a plus size client, we're gonna talk about ways you can make sure you can have the conversations with all of your clients so that everybody can enjoy the trip that you are booking them on.
and links and resources that we talk about today can be found in today's show notes, which you can find by going to HostAgencyReviews.com/tac and clicking on episode 26. Now a map for today's talk, so we'll be covering a variety of topics in each segment. Here's what they are. We'll start with beginnings.
We'll talk a little bit about Disney. We'll talk about the accessible travel. We'll go into her operations of the agency. We'll tap into her wisdom and then we'll finish it off with our indispensable segment. So, this is a lot of talking. I think we should get things started.
So, Amy, welcome to Travel Agent Chatter.
[00:05:00] Amy: Thank you so much for having me, Steph. I'm so excited about this.
[00:05:03] Steph: Yes, it is such a pleasure to have you on. I loved your Host Week presentation on Accessible Travel, and I'm thrilled to have you on to hear more about your story and. Pick up some tips on accessible travel, and if anybody missed Amy's presentation on accessible travel for Host Week, it's kind of a gem.
[00:05:22] Steph: It'll go a lot more in depth than we're able to during this podcast, but I will put a link to that in the show notes for you. So, Amy, your family unknowingly, kind of planted the seeds to your career in travel when you were growing up. You didn't necessarily travel broadly, but you did grow up in Florida, so you had a lot of those popular tourist destinations within a stone's throw.
So, tell us a little bit about the family trips growing up and how they led to you opening an agency.
[00:05:50] Amy: Definitely. So, I grew up in South Florida where it's really easy to hop on the boat and go to the Keys, go to The Bahamas. But the unique thing for me was that my parents got divorced when I was young, and my dad had no idea what to do with me.
So, we went to Disney every other weekend when he had visitation, basically. It was almost every other weekend or the beach., we just would find somewhere to go and it just instilled a lifelong love of Disney and me. I have so many fond memories, spending time there with my dad and even with the rest of my family.
And it's just a destination that we go back to over and over again, my cousins and extended family. It's just part of who we are now.
[00:06:29] Steph: I, I didn't ask you this before during our conversation, but I'm curious, do you know how many times you've actually been to Disney? Oh my
[00:06:34] Amy: gosh, I do not.
But the last time that I counted, my girls have gone 27 times already, and they're six and eight.
[00:06:42] Steph: Okay. Wow. Wow. So, you might even be on par for nearing a thousand
[00:06:47] Amy: soon. It's entirely possible.
[00:06:52] Steph: Well, let's see. So then tell me how you ended up in travel. So, you have this love of Disney that your family unknowingly just trying to keep you busy, ended up helping you.
So how did you end up in travel?
[00:07:03] Amy: I really decided to bring my girls back to Disney for their first trip. And it was immediately overwhelming coming from like being a local and just popping up for the weekend. And so I reached out to one of my friends who was a travel agent and she was so awesome, helped us so much.
And then I just got nerdy with it. Like I, I started having as much fun planning the trip as I was on the trip. And so, I was like, okay, I think that this is what I'm gonna do. I was staying home and homeschooling my girls and it just, it felt like it was something that I could do part-time and kind of set my own rules for.
So we just, we, I went for it.
[00:07:42] Steph: So you, did you join then your friend at their agency or?
[00:07:45] Amy: I did. I started at the same agency as her. I was like, she's successful, so I'm just gonna do the same thing that she's doing. And and it was a great place to start. It was a Disney focused agency a small community of agents, and I think when I joined there was maybe 50 agents total there.
So it was a good place to kind. Get the lay of the land and learn the ins and outs of the start of the business and just, and grow there.
[00:08:10] Steph: Well, I think it makes sense to start talking about Disney since obviously that's an area that's very close to your heart. So let's talk to the next segment.
[00:08:17] Steph: And when you first started, you focused solely on Disney. So would you share with us the story about that viral TikTok video with the balloons? Cause it's so cute.
[00:08:27] Amy: Absolutely. So, I really, one of my friends gave me the advice that the success the key to success on TikTok is really authenticity. And I was like I don't know.
I get in front of a camera and I'm like, I don't know what to do with my hands. I don't know where to look. And so I had recorded this little family tradition that we have at Disney, which is, my girls always wanna buy the overpriced balloons on main. And carry them around for the rest of the trip. But taking them home with us, then we can't see out.
It's the back window. So we started a tradition of giving them away to another family on our last day before we leave. And so I just recorded that process and it happened to be really unique because we were staying at the cabins at Fort Wilderness, the campground at Walt Disney World Resort. So, we were on our golf cart and driving around.
looking for someone who was at their campsite that had kids outside. And there happened to be a family that was actively pitching their tent to start their trip which led kudos to them for camping in Orlando, by the way, . And so, so yeah, I just I told the story of how that's our tradition and we, drove around and It took off.
It was wild. It was like an impulsive, I'm just gonna put this on TikTok while we're driving home and by the time we stopped at the first gas station, I was like, , there's 5,000 people that have watched this video. Like I, I usually was like, woohoo, if I hit a hundred . And it's just grown and grown and I think it's at 147,000 views at this point.
[00:09:56] Steph: Wow. That's amazing. Willie will put a link to it in the comments because it's super cute. Oh. But the one thing to note on that, was that a lead generator for you at all?
[00:10:05] Amy: It was, I booked a few trips. I don't find that TikTok is a huge lead generator for me. But it definitely got people talking and even just people that were already clients who were following were then like, well, I wanna rent a golf cart.
I wanna, what is this? So I would say that it helped expand the horizons of clients that I already had. Comparatively 147,000 views. And I think that at that time I booked two new trips. I don't know if it was, a major driver.
[00:10:35] Steph: Well, I think one of the things that Disney clients really seemed to appreciate about working with you is your attention to detail on making Disney trips accessible for everyone regardless of their age, abilities, size, et cetera.
And you worked with a lot of autistic families in the beginning, or families with autistic children, what sorts of tips and special planning did you give those families that other advisors could also try doing?
[00:11:02] Amy: Yeah, definitely. So I think, we all kind of know about the accessibility services that are available in the park and you can go to Disney's page or Universals and get that information.
But I think telling them things like. Where there's a quiet place to go and sit. If you're feeling sensory, overwhelmed, go tuck into this corner over here, you're gonna find some benches that don't have a ton of foot traffic. Some of those kinds of things. And then also helping them with, if they have, food.
Kind of preferences that you can say, okay here's where you can find cheese pizza in every park all the time. Or, here's where you can find soup at any time, even in the middle of summer. And helping them just with some of those like particulars because everybody has certain things that are comforts that are security for them at home.
Whether they're autistic or not. And so helping them meet those needs while they're there to make sure that they were as comfortable as possible they were there.
[00:11:59] Steph: . And for you, because your family, as you describe it, is neuro spicy. We are . And so this kind of bled in from your home life where you were trying to figure out how to comfortably go to Disney.
Maybe you can explain it with kind of the spiciness of your family.
[00:12:15] Amy: Yeah, definitely. So my husband has really severe social anxiety, and so that's a roadblock for him when it comes to any kind of crowds, concerts, theme parks, any of that. And so when we were planning the trip, it was like, okay, I need to make sure that he has the ability to unplug.
And not to feel like he was making a spectacle of himself, that he didn't feel like he had to necessarily wear headphones or something to tune out the noise. . And so that was definitely a big part of it. And then I also have some neuro spiciness with my kids too.
And so we were, trying to make sure that they were, their needs were gonna be met and that they were comfortable. Even just little things like we'd go to, there's a restaurant at the Wilderness Lodge where they. Pick on you and have a lot of fun, but just letting our server know that Hey, my, my eight year old is maybe not gonna wanna be as playful as other kids are.
If you take her to the imaginary jail, she may cry kind of thing. , you may ruin the trip for her. Yeah. Yeah. So, just things like that we started to accommodate for our own family. And it seemed natural to wanna do those things for my. Yes. And a big part of it was just kind of volunteering information.
Hey, if, do you have anybody in your party that might feel overwhelmed I got you. Another big thing for me personally is that I'm a plus size girl, obviously. And I was worried about fitting on rides because when you go to like your local fair or whatever, the, those rides aren't necessarily accommodating for everyone.
, whether it's mobility or body size or whatever. So I kind of went in with this idea that there was gonna be attractions I wasn't gonna be able to participate in and that kind of thing. Obviously I grew up going to Disney all the time, but my body post two children is a lot different than my body was , pre two children.
Wow. So, I was like, I don't know. And so our first trip I found that I sat out of things like, oh, I don't think I'm gonna be able to ride rock and roller coaster. and then I started finding, Facebook groups and YouTube videos and I was like, wait, like there's people my size and bigger that are riding rides.
Like I, I don't need to sit out. And so that has started to be a question that I ask clients or if we connect on Facebook or I know them in real life that, can be like, Hey, just so you know. You're totally good to ride rides. , that makes
[00:14:33] Steph: tons of sense. So, and I know like you even mentioned, you, you check in to see if someone gets motion sickness or what rides a pregnant woman can ride when they're at Disney Park.
And that's on the app, right? Is where you're looking at that?
[00:14:45] Amy: Yes. The app has so many awesome filters that you can, narrow down rides based on if you're pregnant. , even things getting into the nitty gritty of if the rider is ambulatory and they can get, they can transfer to the ride vehicle versus stay in their wheelchair.
, all those kinds of like really particular situations are in their filters.
[00:15:08] Steph: Now. For some people it can be awkward to ask about accessibility needs or mobility needs or weight. So how do you approach that with your. Totally.
[00:15:20] Amy: It starts at the very beginning. So when they fill out their form to schedule a consultation with me, I have a question about does anybody in your party have any special needs?
And then I have a long checklist so that they can check things off. Because a lot of times they think when people hear. Do you have any special needs or accessibility needs? They immediately are like, oh no, we don't have any wheelchairs in our party. And they keep trucking. So that list is things like a D H D and anxiety, special diets like even asking if they're vegetarian.
And really kind of getting them thinking about is there anything about us that's unique because everyone has something about them that is unique. And so asking that information, . I'm always surprised by how many of those check boxes come back. And then when we're on the phone, I'll be like, so let's talk more about special needs.
And they're like, oh no, we don't have any. And I'm like, wait, you checked off like 10 boxes. , hold up. Let's go back. And so, starting there so that I kind of already have a baseline and then in the phone call asking them again. So, just to confirm, does anybody in your party have any special needs?
That could be, things. Needing a mobility device to special diet, to anxiety. And sometimes also volunteering personal information if, if I feel comfortable and I think that the client will be receptive, just saying, my, my husband has anxiety, or, when we travel with, my cousin, they need X, Y, Z.
That people start to feel comfortable. Once they know that they can trust you. And that you have a shared experience. Yeah,
[00:16:49] Steph: exactly. The shared experience can really help open doors, but it, I like the idea of having the form that people fill out with the check boxes and it's not just a blank so that it prods people and then it also makes it so you can open up the conversation.
Cuz if you are, like for me, I sometimes have access accessibility needs depending on how my. Autoimmune disease is feeling for the day. And it's, but it's made me so much more empathetic to, when I was able-bodied, I never thought about things and it's it's a great way to connect with people.
Absolutely. Well, let's see. So you br, you and I spoke briefly about how many that a lot of the advisors that focus on Disney, they really only sell Disney. And so, Clients often are trained to think that if you sell Disney, you're only selling Disney, which you did in the beginning. Yes. But like many Disney advisors, then you started branching out.
So you, now, I think you said like a third of your sales is Disney, a third cruise, and a third is other destinations. So what. Prompted you to start broadening your niche, cuz this is not abnormal, but I'm curious what your journey was like.
[00:18:00] Amy: Really it was following my clientele. So, I love Disney and I could go back to Disney.
I think our record was seven times in one year, . But I, that's not everybody's cup of tea. And so I wanted to be able to offer them other destinations, especially as my clients started. Kind of forming around that accessibility niche that they wanted to still work with me because they felt comfortable that I was gonna make sure their needs were met.
And so it kind of just, I followed the clients so they wanted to cruise. So I started, really learning more about the cruise industry, taking cruises and, and also as I took more cruises and I took different vacations than. My clients were like, well wait, I wanna do that too.
Cuz everybody has fomo. Like you can't see vacation pictures without it. I have some friends who are in the Virgin Islands right now and I have 100% started pricing out our next trip. Well, I wanna go there.
[00:19:00] Steph: That's so nice. D one of our earlier travel aging chatter episodes deals with Jennifer Don, who started out in Disney with kind of the same reason, wanted to be able to bring her kids to Disney, and that's the age everybody was in.
But then as the kids grew older, she expanded out and now she does destination weddings and honeymoons as her main focus, which her children are around that age. So, yeah, it's kind of neat how things.
[00:19:26] Amy: They do. Definitely. It's just, it's fun to kind of go to the next place. And then the other thing was also grandparents.
A lot of times when people are going to Disney, it's multi-generational. Like the parents get the idea and then the grandparents wanna go and the aunt and uncle wanna go and you get like this big group and then the grandparents. want to still be able to take their own vacations separate from that.
And so a lot of my cruise business is really grandparents too. Which is interesting. Yeah, it's interesting. I even, I just actually, I think right after we had chatted last, I had a client who's going to Disney who was like, could we shorten our trip a little bit? And I was like, yeah, sure. Why? And she's well, we're thinking that maybe.
Leave early, let the grandkids continue enjoying Disney, and we're gonna go take a cruise. Nice. And I was nice. That is the best of both worlds. You're gonna get to spend time with the grandkids, see the magic, and then get out . Yeah.
[00:20:19] Steph: And have your own time. So it's relaxing. Well, let's move into our next segment where we'll kind of, I'm gonna dive a little bit more into accessibility.
Accessible Travel Tips
[00:20:27] Steph: So the first thing I'll mention for those of you that are looking to learn more about accessible travel is that we're gonna put the link again into the show notes for two resources.
One is Amy's Host Week presentation on accessible travel, which is fantastic. And then another episode we did on accessible travel. with Becca Kirby, or I'm sorry, huge growth Kirby who does accessible travel specialist type of thing. So we'll put those in there for you. And then I think first thing is, let's define accessible travel, because there tends to be this focus on physical limitations, but accessible travel goes so far beyond that.
So what are some groups that people may not think of right away when they think of accessible travel?
[00:21:09] Amy: Yeah, definitely. So, obviously we have mobility challenges and different kinds of physical disabilities, but that can be things even like a colostomy bag or having a pacemaker or different things that, where there's concerns about Hey, can I go through the metal detectors or the security screenings for different places?
But then also things like autism or even anxiety I feel like at this point we all have a little bit of anxiety, . Why? But that's great. just, It's just part of life now. But especially those kinds of things where maybe people just need a little bit of a walkthrough of what they're gonna experience if it's, , they're first time flying and they have anxiety.
So it can be things like that. It can also be special diets, so that could be for a medical reason or a religious reason. Personal preference. It seems like a lot of people now have learned that they have gluten intolerances, so that's something that's super common. And just making sure that, whatever their need is they're able to have it met while they're there.
. So I just like to think of it as making sure that travel is accessible for everyone. Whatever their unique need is and, look at a person as a person. And all the things that make them unique are also things that factor into how they're gonna vacation. .
[00:22:22] Steph: So what are some accessible travel that you have booked outside of, say, Disney in cruises?
Because you often hear with Europe, Europe doesn't have the a d A laws and so it's not very accessible, which, a lot of advisors don't really want to deal with that because it is, it isn't as accessible as a lot of places in the US so, but I know you book it, so tell us more about that.
[00:22:47] Amy: There, there's some really great suppliers that are out there that will help you identify those hotels.
One of 'em is Wheel the World. Christie d DSO turned me onto it actually right after our Host Week presentation. And Wheel the World is amazing. And so they have you can look at hotel accessibility, but also excursions and tours that are fully access. And so using resources like that and also Christie's accessible travel network resource on Facebook to just figure out where those places are because it's true, there are, we hear all the time, well, these places have been around long before there was such a thing as a mobility device.
Or they've, we're not gonna. Hundreds and hundreds of years of culture and history to put in a handrail. But there are a lot of places that still are accessible or companies that will provide services to make those spaces accessible for you.
[00:23:39] Steph: . So I'm going to link to these a few of the resources that you mentioned, Amy.
So the accessible travel network on Facebook wheel the World. And can you talk a little bit about that? Cuz you said there's an affiliate program for advisor.
[00:23:50] Amy: Yes. So they have an affiliate program. You can register with them and you can be paid commission on the excursions and activities and all the things that you book.
Similar to like with special needs group or special needs at sea where you would earn commission on their wheelchairs and different medical equipment that they provide Oxygen. , all kinds of things like that. It's, the same situation.
[00:24:11] Steph: And Christie, DSO you mentioned.
Can you explain who she is for those that don't
[00:24:16] Amy: know? Oh, she is Miss Wheelchair Texas. She's also a travel agent and she is a phenomenal accessible travel advocate. I have learned so much from her just in the little while since we've connected. And she really. is out there in the world making sure that the places and the companies that we are all recommending are actually truly accessible and as wonderful as we now know that they are because of her
And she has
[00:24:43] Steph: hers is the accessible travel network. Facebook. Yes. Yes. Excellent. Well, we'll definitely link to that. It'd be a great place to just even listen in and see what people are talking about.
[00:24:54] Amy: Yes. And Christie, please excuse my fan. Girling over you if you're watching . Awkward. Yeah,
[00:25:01] Steph: well, let's see.
And I know that so for you, one of the things you found was your host agency didn't necessarily have a resource guide internally that focused on accessible travel. So that's something that you are working
[00:25:14] Amy: on. Definitely. Definitely. So I am very fortunate to be. The co-administration of diversity, equity, and inclusion at my host agency.
So, that was something that we realized. , a lot of suppliers, a lot of hotel chains and different things. They have the resources. It's just knowing where to find them and knowing the right keyword, everybody calls it something a little different. So putting all of those things into a single location for agents to be able to go and see, okay, I'm gonna send somebody to Universal.
What, what programs do they have? I'm gonna send somebody to Hawaii and they are gonna be taking their own personal wheelchair with them. Well, what are all the steps from, the airport to the transfers? Which is, I think one of the things that I was the most surprised to find is such a challenge.
Is finding transfer companies that have accessible vehicles. So, walking them through the transfers, making sure that they have an accessible hotel, that their excursions are accessible. And so just putting all those things into one place has been a really fun project. And also really like heartwarming, I guess is the best way to describe it, because I feel like we hear so often that the world is not accessible to people.
So to really see all of these programs in one place has been a moving experience for
[00:26:35] Steph: sure. Yeah. What a gem of a resource for people because it is, it's very hard. I was doing research on it for something and there's just not that many resources out there, especially specifically within the Travel Advisor community.
I found them outside people with blogs and things like that, but within the travel, Community on the, like the B2B leisure side, they're, it's hard to find information. So
[00:27:02] Amy: it is, and I think sometimes agents might be like, oh, this isn't my space. I, I don't have accessibility needs, so I'll leave that to someone else.
But the chances are with the amount, I think it's one in, one in no, one in four. Yeah. Americans have some kind of disability. You're already servicing this, someone who has accessibility needs. , it just makes sense to meet them. You don't have to have that personal experience.
You just have to have the desire to really meet your clients and whole needs, not just their vacation needs.
[00:27:33] Steph: . And now you have the resources that you can tap into to make sure that you're meeting them.
[00:27:39] Steph: Well, let's move into the operations of your agency. So you have seen a huge amount of growth the last few years, so let me see if I'm getting this right.
So in 2019, Which is when you started, is that right?
[00:27:51] Amy: I started in 2018.
[00:27:52] Steph: Okay, so 20. Okay. 2019 though, you had $150,000 in sales. Yeah. And then something happened in 2020 that made the world stop. I don't know what it was. Yep. Who knows. So didn't have great sales those years. But then in 2021, you over tripled your sales to half a million in 2021, and you're on pace to surpass that this year.
[00:28:17] Amy: Yes, I'm super excited. It's funny, I was kind of having a slow month last month and I talked to somebody at my host agency and they pulled up my numbers and they were like, why are you complaining? You already have booked everything that you booked last year. You're, you've met that number already, in the first quarter of this year.
you're doing fine. And I was like, oh yeah. Like it's a good reminder too to pull back. I feel like we can get fixated on those, like monthly numbers and pulling back and looking at the whole picture is super helpful. . Well,
[00:28:49] Steph: huge congrats on the growth of your agency because it's inspiring and it's wonderful to see.
And I know for people listening in that are newer, it's always nice to hear. It's one thing when you hear from an advisor that's been in the business 10 years, but it's always nice to hear from people that have only been in it for a few years that have. Been able to take off. So, one of the things I like to check in with guests about is if they charge fees and you don't.
So can you tell us why your thought process?
[00:29:16] Amy: I do not, kind of fitting in line with that vision that I want travel to be accessible for everyone. I don't want to create an extra financial roadblock for clients to use my services. , but also I just, I have this pipe dream that I'm gonna move back to Florida one day and I won't be able to charge fees when I live there in the same way that I would here.
So it's a twofold thing. But then also selfishly I feel like there's a pressure that gets associated with charging a fee that I don't wanna add that extra pressure onto. ,
[00:29:46] Steph: we, we always talk about fees and in our reports from our surveys, we always talk about or we display how many advisors are charging fees and more and more of them are.
But I, I also think why I think it's a great way to diversify your income, especially after. the pandemic. It's also really great to be in touch with what's important to you and what feels right for you for your business. Because things change and are fluid. So, you can always add fees if you want, later on or if it just doesn't, like that's not something that works with you, then that's totally okay too, cuz it's your business.
[00:30:19] Amy: Exactly. And I think that's one of the coolest things when I've talked to other agents, we just had our big conference and sitting around tables, it's like half and half. Some of us do, some of us don't. We all have our own reasons, whether it's our clientele or just the client load that we feel comfortable with.
But I agree with you. Just it has to be what feels right and matched. What what the values of your business are. .
[00:30:42] Steph: And you, so you mentioned when we were chatting that one of the challenges with scaling your agency and growing so fast was that it was hard to scale and come up with the systems in place and.
on a past episode with Erica Carr. I think it was maybe a couple episodes ago, but she mentioned the same kind of problem in her episode. But, and I'll link to this in the show notes, but she said for scaling, she kind of recommends building up from the ground up. So anyone that's new like build with the future in mind and knowing that by the time you actually are like, oh, I need to.
An email sequence in place that you're already gonna be so busy at that point that it's gonna be hard to put it in place. So take advantage of in the beginning when things are slow, to think about how you can scale it and to build out your processes and flows, write them down so that you at least have a basis you can work off of when you're scaling.
[00:31:38] Amy: That's so true.
[00:31:39] Steph: Well, I also know that you're a bit of a workflow queen when it comes to email automations for client trips. So let me, I'm gonna pull up, so those of you that are watching the video will be able to see this. But you have, so I just pulled up your email automations. Can you explain a little bit more about this because this is in test, is that.
[00:32:00] Amy: Yes, so we use the test CRM system and there's a whole automation section where you can just kinda add these workspace extensions to your client's trips. So this is a screenshot of part of my Hawaii extension that I have for clients. And so as soon as they accept a quote, then I add this extension and it automatically sets these reminders for me.
When their final payments are due and reminding me to actually send deposit confirmations or send a final payment confirmation to them, but also automatically sends them emails. Because I feel like we all have those emails that we send to clients over and over again. And so. , these emails are basically that it's the things that I know I'm gonna send them already, so I just have it automated so that I don't have to think about it.
I don't have to remember if I sent it. And I don't have to type it again. It's all there and ready to go.
[00:32:57] Steph: Yeah. And so this is just specifically for Hawaii. So do you have this for every destination or how do you break this
[00:33:02] Amy: down? Basically, once I've done a destination, like more than three times, then I'm like, okay, it's time to add an extension for it.
So I have this for Disney Disney World, Disneyland Universal in each cruise line too. Okay, hold on.
[00:33:18] Steph: I'm gonna pull up cuz you sent me over some examples. So I'm gonna, let's take a look at your Disney one and then I'm gonna scroll through it if you wanna chat a little bit about kind of what you like to put in for each email sequence.
[00:33:31] Amy: Totally. So this is just an example of one of them that's like a reminder. about how they're gonna be getting to Walt Disney World Resort. So if they're driving if they're flying, the different options they have available for airport transfers, all those kinds of things so that they can just kind of get the wheels spinning on what they wanna do.
And then also equipment rentals. So strollers, scooter, Other medical devices, just reminding them that Hey, these things are available. Because I feel like these are the things that people kind of put off until the last minute. And that also don't really fit organically in our workflow all the time.
So they can be things that get overlooked since they're not gonna be added into their package. And then every email ends with that, like schedule a call button that takes them to my calendarly. So that, that way if they read that email and are like, okay, yep, we need to book our scooter, we need to book our transfers, that they can click it and just get on my calendar right away.
Which is one of my favorite things to use is Calendly, so that there's no, oh yeah. Fourth .
[00:34:33] Steph: We'll put a link into Calendly if people aren't familiar with it, but great calendar scheduling software. All right, so I've pulled up our one on Hawaii. So you've built this out. Tell us a little bit about this.
[00:34:44] Amy: So I like to send other things that are just kind of like fun enrichment to get them excited about their destination. So this is just like an overview. , the history of the Hawaiian language and the basics of it, and just some different phrases that they might wanna try or learn. You can tell that I definitely have an education background.
Okay. Sometimes with emails like this , because I think it's just fun to teach them a little bit and get them thinking about the culture of a destination and and really participating in it while they're. I,
[00:35:17] Steph: yeah, I love this. Like I also come from kind of an education background as well, and I'm always curious.
I love learning about the different cultures when I'm traveling to new destinations, so this is great. Yeah, let me definitely when I have to do multiple things while I'm trying to interview you, like change screens, I just get all flustered. ,
[00:35:37] Amy: You handled it like a pro. Thank you.
[00:35:41] Steph: Well, let's see.
So, and do you send things like packing lists or anything along those lines? Time to check in for your flights? Yes.
[00:35:48] Amy: Yeah, so like for the Hawaii one, they'll get a packing list or reminder to check in for their flight. A reminder about. Checking in for other things. Same thing with Disney. I'll send out an automated reminder when their dining's opening and things like that so that they're constantly getting those reminders.
And the nice thing with using the automations is that they're linked to the information in the CRM. So if we modify their trip and change their trip dates, it automatically adjusts when those emails are being sent. I'm having one because I am the worst at updating my calendar with things. So I was finding that like clients would maybe, Hey, our flights are way cheaper.
We're gonna arrive Sunday instead of Monday. And I wouldn't remember to go in and update my calendar all the time. I just it'd be like, yeah, absolutely. And we'd change it and. I'd be like, yeah, they're getting there on Monday. No, they're not do.
[00:36:43] Steph: So if you're, if someone's say flight changes that's part of the booking, does that automatically change it or
[00:36:51] Amy: It does.
Well, so I put their itineraries and trai. I am obsessed with Shopify and so it will notify me if their flights have changed once their flights are added to the itinerary. So it doesn't necessarily talk to the c R M, but I still get those updates. Okay. And it'll change in their change in their schedule automatically.
[00:37:11] Steph: Yeah. And I know you mentioned too on one of the emails that you send out, you talk about things for the cruise lines, that there's certain things you can do on some cruise lines that you can't do on others. Can you give an example of that? Yeah. Well,
[00:37:24] Amy: so a lot of my people are coming from Disney and.
A big part of Disney cruise line is decorating your door, ordering different magnets and fish extenders, and all these things that are just like little Disney traditions that don't necessarily extend to other cruise lines. Actually right before we recorded this, I was talking to a client who did a Disney cruise last month, and they're going on a Norwegian cruise to Alaska.
Later this year, and I was like, just so you know, you can't decorate your door on Norwegian . And so having some of those things also like in those emails can be helpful because there's just little details like that people might. assume based on past experiences that are different for different brands.
So do you,
[00:38:06] Steph: you do specific sequences or workflows for tour operator to different cruise lines. So if someone's going on a cruise, they're gonna get a separate one if they're going with Norwegian versus Disney. Yeah. Yep.
[00:38:18] Amy: It was . Yeah,
[00:38:21] Steph: it's, it is time consuming. But like with things like that, I always think.
It's just the work up front. That's hard. If you can just get it done, then you never Exactly. You rarely have to worry about it again.
[00:38:32] Amy: Exactly. Just keep it updated when the emails come in. , .
[00:38:37] Steph: So you take a lot of video pic videos, pictures, screenshots when you're traveling to use them as future guides for clients.
What are some examples of some things you've created for clients with. Videos and pictures
[00:38:51] Amy: and stuff. The biggest one is definitely navigating Disney's new Genie plus service that's available in the parks. I feel like it confuses and overwhelms people so easily. So I put together a video of screenshots so that they could actually see the process in the app.
And like trying to explain to someone exactly where to go click in an app that has that much information can be super overwhelming. Being able to put the screenshot up and then a description of what they need to do is so helpful. And so I've tried to start doing that now. Anytime I'm taking a vacation, if I'm checking in for a cruise or checking in for a flight to just start screen recording or taking screenshots of each step so that the clients who maybe aren't super tech savvy, or who, just really want a thorough understanding maybe for my anxious clients, like my husband that I can, send them exactly what they can expect.
[00:39:47] Steph: It's a great, it's a great tool too, because while we work with. Clients that are well traveled. We also work with a lot of clients that aren't well traveled, and that's just such a nice thing to add to them. And again, it's you do it well, I guess it's not, you do it once because if they change their app you gotta change things out.
But true a super, it's like a really nice touch that you wouldn't get when you booked, if an online agency or something along those lines. Those are the things that make people really fall in love with advisor. Definitely. All right, so let's move into our next segment, because I wanna hear about the wisdom that you've accumulated the last few years in the industry.
[00:40:23] Steph: So, , , what are your favorite places to learn and get your learning on?
[00:40:29] Amy: Oh, good question. Honestly, I just love going in person. So we just came off of our big conference for the year and I love just really it's the meeting after the meeting for me. I find that it's great to get the information, like from a supplier or.
From a, a direct source, like a tourism board, but talking to other advisors and hanging out and like grabbing a drink or grabbing lunch, I find that is where I get the wealth of my information because I, we are all technically in competition with each other, but we're also a giant community.
And there's, there really is enough business to go around for everyone. So, finding those people who wanna share information and, just passing that around. The agent to agent information, I find is the most priceless thing that, that you can really learn in our industry.
[00:41:21] Steph: I'm a hundred percent on board with that.
Sometimes people will ask me questions about bookings or, and there's just, that's not what I do in the day-to-day, and so that's why we don't have any courses on, or we even don't really talk about sales, or if we do for travel agent chatter or something like this, we're asking the advisors because that's, , that's where the knowledge is.
So is there something from one of your last meetings that sticks out that's something that you learned from another advisor where you're like, oh, brilliant.
[00:41:47] Amy: Yeah, so I was actually chatting with someone and he had said that his, he has clients who want to be luxury clients, but maybe their budget doesn't support it yet, and.
It's the idea of putting someone, instead of putting them in the nicest room at the cheaper hotel, put them in the cheapest room at the nicer hotel. So that they still have those luxury amenities. They have all of the kind of the taste of that luxury hotel. And instead of having them like kind of at the top, like in real estate, they always say You don't wanna own the nicest house on your block, so that idea of moving them up a resort level, even if that means that you might downgrade the room type that they have. And I was like, that is so smart. Like it's simple, but yeah. Instead of. Instead of giving them the biggest and best at, at one hotel, give them the opportunity to see what else is out there.
Try a different brand. That is a
[00:42:46] Steph: great know it's little nuggets like that I love. When I'm at a meeting in here, someone say, or when I'm intervening people, I'm like, love that. I'm
[00:42:55] Amy: like, oh that's a lot of times too. It's oh, that was so obvious, like, why didn't I think of it like that?
But, oh, or
[00:43:02] Steph: why didn't I, why have I never explained it like that? Because that is so much better than what I, the way I've been explaining
[00:43:07] Amy: it. there is. Just, there's so many smart people in our industry. It's amazing to me. It's true. Lots of
[00:43:13] Steph: savvy business owners. I'm gonna pull up really quickly our site, because I wanna show people, if you're not familiar with our events calendar, this is a great place to go for in-person events and seeing what's out there.
, I'm not, I think it, I don't know of any other industry calendar that's as in depth and has it from so many different areas within the industry. But we just added a whole bunch of ship inspections in there and a bunch of fam trips. So there's fan trips, ship inspections, there's trade shows, conferences lots of good stuff in there.
We'll link to it as well in the show notes for easy Access. But it's a great resource if you're not aware of it yet for finding. in-person events to go to, to get your learning on Amy. Well, what do you wish you would've known when you started? Because we have a lot of newer advisors that tune in.
[00:44:02] Amy: Geez. I think that the thing that I wish that I had started with was boundaries. I feel when you're first starting, you just want to make that first sale or reach that first sales goal, and. You'll kind of, at least for me, I was like, I'll do anything to get that. You wanna call me at 1130 at night to talk about your dining that doesn't open for another three months.
Yeah, absolutely, I'm getting outta bed. Let's talk. But I found that as my business picked up, the thing is that if you set that expectation with your first client and then they refer their. Their friend's gonna expect the same thing. They're gonna expect you to get outta bed at 1130 at night.
And so I found that I really wish that I would've had those boundaries in place just to be able to keep my time that I do spend with my family as kind of sacred time for us. And it's much harder to set the boundary later and not make your client feel uncomfortable or like they've crossed a boundary.
So I find, like now I'm very clear about my boundaries. Like one of the very first emails that I send out explains what my office hours are and how to contact me. So that cuz also when somebody texts me at 11 o'clock at night I'm not, I might read it and forget about it entirely at that point, or if it pops up, well, I'm at my daughter's cheerleading competition on the weekend. I'm, my brain is going in a million different directions at that point, and. Kind of like putting my preferences and how I work upfront has been super helpful.
[00:45:30] Steph: That is a fantastic way to end things because setting the boundaries is so important and also like setting up expectations so that they're not.
dissatisfied or feel like you never told me that.
[00:45:43] Amy: Yep, definitely.
[00:45:45] Steph: Well, let's head into our final segment for today, and that is the indispensable segment. And this is a segment where we ask travel advisors, what technology, book or person has been indispensable to the growth of your agency? And then tell us why.
So Amy, what's your indispensable.
[00:46:04] Amy: Oh my gosh, . It's so hard to choose between one of the technologies that I use and a person.
[00:46:10] Steph: So, okay I'll, you know what, I'll give you two. You can do a technology and a person. I've never done this before. Amy, this is
[00:46:16] Amy: only for you. I, I'm so priv— thank you. I was literally like an existential crisis over here.
How do I choose between Bill Coyle and Travefy? .
Ah, that's so funny. Great quote.
So, Travefy has been, I think it's the thing that's the hardest to commit to because the price is high. But it really. Has made my proposals and my itineraries so much more professional and sharp and saves me so much time because of the library feature and being able to drag and drop.
Kind of the same thing as the automations. Like I've only had to set them up once and now we're good to go. And so I don't think that I could live without Travefy but I also couldn't live without Bill Coyle, who's the VP of Engagement at my host agency. He. Everybody's biggest cheerleader. He's one of those people who also will just drop that wisdom on you, where you walk away and you're like, oh that's super obvious.
I should have already been doing that. But he's just, he radiates joy all the time and he is the best at giving you a pep talk when you know Thing earlier where I was feeling kind of down about my sales and then he is like, you've already done last year. , you're good.
Keep going, but you're good . And I just, I feel like everybody needs that in their life, is just that person who is always cheering for them and always has a solution when they have a problem.
[00:47:37] Steph: I will say, I know Bill, and the first time I met him. Just this huge smile on his face. And I was like, I love this man.
And he has not disappointed me. He is so friendly. I told Amy, I was like, he reminds me of Ned Flanders. He's just Heidi Ho neighbor. So friendly, so nice. So giving yeah. So that's really fun that you mentioned it was Bill.
[00:48:00] Amy: It's true. It's like you see him on a live or on a video and you're like no one can be that upbeat all the time and it's nope. He really is all the time. , .
[00:48:11] Steph: I know he is. He is definitely a ray of sunshine. So Amy, it has been a blast and I'm so appreciative of you taking the time to share your ex expertise and experiences with us. And a big thank you to all of you who took the.
Out of the busy schedules that I know you have to pick up some tips that can help you grow your agency. I just wanna give a quick reminder about our annual survey, which helps us publish the in-depth data free to the industry. It is going to open mid-April and we'd love, love, love your help to make it our biggest turnout ever for our survey.
Mary gets very competitive about these things, so, you can head over to HostAgencyReviews.com/survey to either take the survey or if it's not open yet, or if it's closed and you're listening to this Slater, you can sign up to get emails for when it opens again or when we send out the reports.
So that's right. If you sign up for the reminders, you will get emailed and be the first person to know. About the industry trends that are just coming out, and that is a wrap for us. Again, thank you again for joining us. Amy, thank you again for joining us.
Thank you, and we will see you all soon.
[00:49:18] Steph: You can read a transcript, view the show notes, and watch a video of today's episode all in one place. Head on over to host agency reviews.com/tac and click on episode 26. So if you are hanging on this long, um, thanks for listening for so long all the way through, and I think that puts you in the class of a super fan.
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