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More posts by Anita Pagliasso
During these uncertain times, the most critical advice I can offer is do not pull in and back away– I guarantee you that is exactly what your competition will do.
Stay the course and break away from the pack. When panic about a sliding economy hits the airwaves, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that no one will be traveling during these times. This is the wrong approach, and I can guarantee that the sales will go to those who make the calls.
After 9-11, when the traditional storefront agencies were closing their doors left and right, I went into high-action mode and ended up tripling my business. I refused to believe that I couldn’t succeed. But I also knew that I would have to do something different from my normal mode of operation. Here’s what I did:
1. The first action I took was to find ways to boost my visibility. Word-of-mouth had worked wonderfully up until this point, but now I had to go out and find new avenues and seek out business-building opportunities. There is no time like now to polish up your personal and professional skills that will lead to beefing up your lead generation strategies.
2. Commit to learning and improving. Those who know everything have nothing to learn. During down times, it’s a great time to look at things from a fresh perspective. How can you do things better? Serve clients smarter? Take this opportunity to polish your sales skills.
3. Take self-improvement classes and join an association such as Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org) to help improve your speaking and presentation skills. This is exactly what I did and then I went to various organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Clubs, and offered to do presentations on the post 9-11 security rules, safety issues and how to best travel in uncertain times. I was met with an enthusiastic response. These associations are always looking for interesting speakers, so now would a great time to make presentations on “How to get the most from your travel dollar during an economic downturn,” “The new Consumer Rights for Travelers,” “Travel to destinations where the dollar is still King,” “Understanding the value of an all-inclusive vacation or cruise,” and about the value opportunities that come about because of the economic downturn and how your skills can help plan the vacation of their dreams by taking advantage of increased inventory in hotels, car rentals and cruises.
4. I also joined as many networking groups as I could manage. I made it my full-time job to go out and get new business. Every day, I was communicating to one group or another. If you don’t already belong to a networking group, go to Google and enter your city plus networking groups or leads clubs and it will bring up a list of where and when they meet. During the downturn, use any spare time to stay in touch with people, building relationships, sending notes, making calls and visits.
5. If you want travelers to book with you, then offer something extra or something that they can’t get from your competition. When other travel agencies were adding service fees to compensate for a loss of revenue, I boosted my business by advertising “my expert services and consultations are complimentary,” “free delivery of documents,” and “appointments made evenings and weekends.” Take a current marketing lesson from Southwest Airlines. Now that all of the other airlines are charging extra for everything from pillows to peanuts, their advertising campaign on their website and at airports states Southwest LUV is the Freedom from Fees. They boldly state “NO” in front of 8 features, including not adding a fee for the first or second bag, no change fee, no window or aisle seat fee, no curbside check-in fee, no phone reservation fee, no snack fee and no fuel surcharge.
Anita Pagliasso is president of Ticket to Travel (www.aticket2travel.com), OSSN’s Western Regional Manager, member of The Travel Institute’s Professional Educators’ Program and president of PATH. She has written books titled “How I Made a Small Fortune as a Home-Based Agent” and her newest book “From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE! She also has a CD (“Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents”) with dozens of her most popular forms, letters, and guides that you can download and customize for your own use. You can find all her material online in our bookstore!