Who We Are
Are you frustrated with the lack of profit from your individual bookings? Do you feel like there has to be a better way to increase your commissions?
Groupit Travel Host Agency is a boutique host agency specializing in group travel. Groups are the #1 way to increase your revenues and we are the experts.
Who We Serve
We help hungry travel agents who want more group bookings but are not confident on how to create, market and book them on a consistent basis. Groups can be very profitable if done right, but if done wrong, they can be a huge financial loss for you. If you are an agent ready to take your agency to the next level keep reading.
What We Offer
We offer extensive product and business training, various one-on-one mentorship programs and agency exclusive FAM’s throughout the year. If you are an agent seeking more specialized training, mentorship and guidance we are right for you. We offer generous commission tiers, E&O insurance, tour operator insurance (crucial if you want to create your own groups at NET), CRM and other tools to make your business run smoothly.
Are We For You?
If you value a personalized touch and don’t want to be another number, please contact us today. We’ll have an honest conversation about your goals, how we can help you achieve them and determine if we are a good fit for each other. Contact us today at 919-578-9028, ext. 101 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone calls on holidays, emails in the middle of the night, text messages while you're bathing the kids, private Facebook messages during the first adult date you've had in a year? Is this how you envisioned your career as a Travel Agent?
There is no denying that there are travel emergencies that require our immediate attention regardless of what hour of the day or night it is occurring. Nor will you get any argument from me that being flexible with clients can certainly help build your business and reputation. But, what about all of those other inquiries and demands on your time? As Travel Agents, we tend to forget that we are professional experts who are equally deserving of respect for our "off-time" time just like any other professional. I can assure you that if I texted my attorney or accountant in the middle of the night, I may be the recipient of a nastygram tomorrow. The air-conditioning technician is not going to appreciate a phone call at 1:00 am asking him what he thinks about a new system I am thinking about buying. And, my physician is not going to respond to my 3 am email advising them that I forgot to tell them that I need a refill on my medication.
Let's take a look at the most common communications we receive from clients that can feel intrusive on our professional and personal lives and how we, as professional Travel Agents, can establish boundaries that are mutually beneficial.
YOUR FINAL PAYMENT IS DUE
First reminder: your final payment is due in two weeks. No response. Second reminder: your final payment is due in one week. Third reminder: your final payment is due in three days. No response. Final reminder: your final payment is due tomorrow and if you don't make your final payment, the supplier will cancel your booking and you'll lose all of your money. Client responds at 3 am with a frantic text stating that they just submitted their payment form and requests that you respond IMMEDIATELY to confirm you got it because "they" are worried they will lose their booking OR they email you and state that they had no idea their final payment was due and would you be so kind as to obtain an extension because they don't have all of the money to pay yet.
Can you avoid these scenarios completely one-hundred percent of the time? No! However, you can avoid them most of the time by taking a few simple steps. First, always advise your client that the final payment is due one or two weeks before the actual final payment date. This alleviates YOUR stress and worry and eliminates frantic communications at the last minute. Second, always include a time of day that the payment is due. For instance, we always state that the payment is due on such and such a date, no later than 4:00 PM EST. By including an actual time of day, we have eliminated the 11:59 pm payment authorizations coming through. Third, from the initial invoice through the final payment, include a disclaimer in your communications that under no circumstances will a supplier grant a final payment extension and that non-payment on or before that date is an automatic, non-refundable forfeiture of all monies previously paid and loss of the booking.
Text at 1:52 am: "Hey, my friend wants to come with us - can you just add them to the booking? They just have to pay airfare if we stick them in the room with us, right?" Email at 4:22 am: "So my friend and I were just thinking we should take a trip in 2 weeks and we need to get moving on this right away. We just found an amazing Groupon - can you match it?" Voicemail at 8:15 pm: "I just looked at the papers you sent me for our booking (sent two weeks ago) and my husband's birthday is wrong. I went back and looked at what I sent you...I don't know what I was thinking (giggle inserted here). Can you call me immediately - we need to fix this right away." Private inbox message at midnight: "OMG, someone just told me that I need a passport for Puerto Rico. Is that true??????"
See where I'm headed with this? Not one of these communications needs or deserves a response until you are open for business during your normal business hours. You will not lose a booking because you did not respond on demand. If a client makes a booking in the middle of the night on a whim, they weren't going to wait for your response anyway. These types of questions and intrusions on your time can all wait until you can answer them at an appropriate time. When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me that "no one can chase you if you don't run". In other words, set your boundaries, be professionally firm about them, and these types of communications and demands on your time will lessen over time.
AUTO-RESPONDERS ARE YOUR FRIEND
I admit that I may not be the most tech-savvy person in the world. However, I have learned that auto-responders are my friend. When someone emails me or sends an inquiry on Facebook, or even when I'm driving and a text comes through, clients (or potential clients) know that I have received their communication and will be in touch with them. My boundaries are established, but the client knows they are in the "queue" so-to-speak.
It is critical that you keep your voicemail message and your auto-responders up-to-date. There is nothing more frustrating for a client than to get a message stating that you're out of the office until December 1st and it's now December 15th. Confession: I've been guilty of this myself, more than once. It makes you look unprofessional and if you can't pay attention to your own details, how can someone trust you to take care of theirs? Do some research and find the apps that work for you!
change your thinking
If I had a dollar for every time a Travel Agent tells me that they "are just starting out so I have to take what comes my way...", I would no longer need to work. It's time to CHANGE YOUR THINKING!
There is absolutely no better time to set boundaries, not only with your time, but with the type of clients you wish to work with, than when you are starting your business. You do NOT have to take what comes your way, especially when what is coming your way is a lot of hard work for very little money or worse, no booking at all. Think about others who are in professional service businesses such as dentists. Most dentists are not full-service - they are specialists, experts in their field - just as you are. They do not negotiate pricing, they don't keep their cell phone next to their face while they are sleeping so they can hear the ping of the inbox messages, and they don't take any client because "it's coming their way". They establish their boundaries and they stick with them, knowing that in time, their business will grow into the vision they set for themselves.
As a Travel Agent, you are also a professional with a vision - don't be desperate for just anything that presents itself - it may not be the right thing for you or your business. Change your thinking and take the necessary steps to establish yourself as a professional and grow your vision by establishing boundaries, both with your time and what you are willing to do with your time.
Perhaps there is no more contentious subject between professional travel agents than when or whether to gift your clients. Ask any five travel agents what their feelings are on this subject and you are likely to get five different answers. Consider some of these factors before you make a decision on the precedent you wish to establish with your clients.
when was the last time you received a gift just for being a client?
I do business routinely with attorneys, accountants, bookkeepers, IT professionals, physicians and more. I've never received a gift from any of them just because I pay for their services. They are experts in their field, just as I am, and I have no expectation that simply by retaining them or even sending them referrals, that I should receive a gift. Conversely, they do not send me gifts in exchange for my business and I am sure it has never crossed their mind to do so (even for my birthday, wedding, or any other special occasion). While it doesn't always happen, the most I can hope for is that there is a degree of loyalty between us that might stimulate mutual referrals.
Are you already gifting your clients?
Think about this...are you already gifting your clients before they even depart for their travels? No? What about the luggage tags or the cutesy little document holders you sent them with their travel documents? Did you book excursions for them where the time factor for your work far outweighed the couple of dollars you will earn for doing it? Maybe, you didn't earn anything for a segment of the trip that you worked so painstakingly hard on - such as airline tickets that you didn't charge a service fee for, or for excursions and show tickets that are not commissionable.
Are gifts part of your marketing budget?
Do you consider gift-giving as part of your marketing budget or are you just sending gifts to clients because you think it's the "nice thing" to do? If you are incorporating your gifts to clients as part of your marketing budget, you must know what your return on investment (ROI) is. Have you calculated how much repeat business or referrals those gifts have brought to you? What percentage of your marketing budget are you spending on client gifts? Is it possible that spending your marketing dollars elsewhere may yield better results?
HAVE YOU CALCULATED YOUR EARNINGS?
One of the major weaknesses in our business is that most travel agents, despite being professional experts in their field, truly do not know what their costs are to do business. For instance, do you know how much it costs you to generate a lead? How much does it cost you in terms of hours expended to confirm a booking (translation: what is your actual hourly rate for doing the work you do)? What are your operating costs to do business (and yes, you have operating costs even if you work from home)? So, how do your costs compare to your earnings? Now, factor in what you want to spend on a client gift....did you make money from the gift or did you just give away your earnings? If you take the time to really determine how much you earn for your expertise, you may find that those client gifts are not as valuable as you thought they were. For the record, I've seen agents make $115.00 commission and spend $25.00 on a client gift. In the end, when you factor in all costs, the agent makes nothing and in fact, is likely losing money.
Where do I go from here?
None of this is written in stone. Each of us, as independent business owners, must make decisions every day as to what is best for growing our business. While I personally believe that client gifts are generally unnecessary, that doesn't mean it isn't right for you and your business. With that being said, I encourage you to think long and hard before establishing such precedents with your clients. Sending a beautiful honeymoon gift when the client spent $10,000 may have seemed like a good idea, but are they now expecting a gift (or are you feeling compelled to give one) when they take a quick getaway for $2,000 and your earnings are far less? The best advice I can give you is to truly know your costs of doing business and for every dollar you spend...know the return on your investment and always, always, know your value as a professional expert. This will help you make an informed decision as to where you want to go from here when it comes to client gifts.
Stacey Ray is the CEO of Groupit Travel Host Agency and Groupit Travel. You can contact her by clicking here.