Here we are in February already. Are you all set for your groups’ travel schedule for the year? If not, it’s high time you schedule, book, price and announce your trips if you hope to have a successful year.
Waiting until too late not only means you probably won’t be able to get the space you need, it also means that your potential travelers may already have made plans and perhaps have decided to book with some other company or organization since they haven’t heard from you. Many organizations require more than one trip a year, and these could vary: a cruise, a long-weekend away, a post-convention trip, an adventure trip for the whole family, a one-country-in-depth learning vacation and so on.
More Hand-Holding Required
If you are handling just one major client organization and operating several different travel projects for them throughout the year, that’s one thing. But if, on the other hand, you’re handing half a dozen different client organizations, that’s something else totally. A client organization that has had you arrange their annual trip in the past is familiar with your modus operandi, trusts you and is often easier to work with because they know what to expect and may not be as demanding.
A new account, however, may require much more hand holding, be more demanding and require more of your time and attention if you are to have a successful outcome. You would hope that new accounts can be converted into annual clients, thus building your client base, assuring their ongoing business and, hopefully, their referrals to other new accounts.
Maybe you’re not planning to operate a trip specifically for an organization but rather are hoping to put a trip together and then offer it to the public at-large through newspaper or magazine advertising. This is often the most difficult type of travel project to ensure success and can involve financial risk on your part.
What Kinds of Trips Should You Offer?
You’ll want to offer trips that will appeal to your projected clientele. Some trips like a short Caribbean cruise would be appropriate for those who may not have cruised previously and who are limited in their budget. A motorcoach tour of Europe—maybe 10 to 12 days—may appeal to the client who has not been to Europe previously and is on a medium budget.
You’ll want to offer trips that you feel comfortable operating. If you have no experience with yacht trips on the Dalmatian Coast, for heaven’s sake don’t try it unless you have access to a top-notch operator who specializes in that part of the world. I find it’s a lot easier if you offer what you know and what you feel comfortable with.
Another pitfall to avoid is to sign on to offer a trip for which you or your company must put up large non-refundable deposits. Many hotels, coach companies and other suppliers may require a deposit if they are to confirm space for your group. There are two issues here. One is cash flow; will you or the company you represent put up the deposit? The second issue is that if the trip doesn’t materialize, can you get the deposit back? The key word here is “non-refundable.” In many cases, there will be no problem IF you cancel the space within the stipulated cancellation date requirements.
So it’s time to get going and put up for sale your 2018 program. It’s also time to think about announcing early 2019 plans so you don’t get caught in a “late offering crunch” next year.