Every business has its ups and downs, but minimizing the downs will go a long way to making your business more enjoyable and getting to profitability more quickly. In this webinar, we will look at 3 of the most common mistakes people new to the travel industry make and how to avoid them.
(Stephanie speaking) Hey everyone! It looks like we are on time here so we’re going to go ahead and get started. First, just want to welcome you to this webinar. Thank you so much for joining us here today! This webinar is hosted by Travefy Academy and our amazing guest Sandy Saburn who is going to share so much of her knowledge as she always does if you got to watch us last month should so much to share. So we’re excited to have her again. This month is to share some more and check out her presentation, but let me quickly just introduce myself and kind of what to expect for this webinar. I’m Stephanie Gries from travefy and I’m part of the user support team and I also help with Travefy Academy. I’m also going to introduce Sandy here in just a minute, but I do want to give a quick plug on what Travefy Academy is and kind of what to expect from today’s webinar. So the great thing about travefy we get to partner with experts across the travel industry
to provide amazing and free educational webinars like this one today through Travefy Academy. Sometimes those experts may be part of a specific supplier host agency, consortia or other business. However, these webinars are not commercial in nature to promote those organization nor does travefy ever accept compensation for partnerships. So really travefy Academy just exists to provide powerful educational experiences and fulfill our mission to you know, power the success of travel professionals. Our Hope for Travefy Academy is to be a resource for a travel advisor from a wide range of different perspectives, different levels and that’s kind of what you’re going to find here today. So whether you’re starting a new business or you have been in the with an agency for over 20 years, that’s what we want to provide for both sides of that.
If you’ve been able to join us previously, you might know a little bit of how we run these webinars. We do have recordings of the previous ones and always watch your email for future ones coming up as well. I do want to mention to you before we dive In too far here is that there is a question box so feel free to ask any questions there if you do think of anything throughout the webinar so you can ask those in that question box. I’ll be watching that and then I’ll be able to feed those to Sandy as they come in afterward as well. Another thing that’s important to note to say is that this webinar is also being recorded so if you need to hop off at any point or if there’s somebody else, you know a colleague that you had, who couldn’t join, no worries. We are recording this we will send out the recording after so whether someone wasn’t able to join or you did you’ll still get the same recording so you’ll be able to check that out after as well. So now the moment that we’ve all been waiting for to introduce my special guest here…
Today is Sandy Saburn and I don’t have to tell you how knowledgeable and how incredible this will be. Sandy’s travel career started when she decided to finally pursue her long-held dream of working in trouble and she enrolled in a local travel school and then upon graduation, she worked as a frontline agent in a brick-and-mortar agency before being recruited to join the marketing department of a larger agency with multiple locations. Then she later served as a training manager than Marketing Manager for that agency overseeing all leisure marketing and events and also assisted with the corporate meetings and incentives department with marketing initiatives. Sandy also worked as a training and sales manager for a host agency with agents across the country. Sandy is currently the Director of Sales for sister companies Gifted Travel Network, which is a host agency and then the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs, which is GIFTE.
Specials around the world as well, Sandy loves providing guidance to travel professionals to take their businesses to new heights, which you’ll see here today. She’s a very enthusiastic cheerleader for travel professionals and believes there has never been a better time to work in travel. She also believes that what worked in the past won’t work in the future so we have to be willing to reinvent ourselves to provide the most value to our clients and get the most fulfillment from our travel business as well. So Sandy has a master’s degree in communication from Queens University of Charlotte a bachelor’s degree from UNC Wilmington and has earned her certified travel industry executive designation from the travel Institute as well. She’s also published in multiple books related to communication and in her previous role as a career coach as well. Her thesis was an examination of the reasons Americans don’t use all their vacation time provided by their employers. Despite having the least number
of days of any industrialized nation, which is so cool. You know, I think we all can agree on that thesis right there. So really, thank you so much, Sandy, for being here today as you can see she has a lot of street cred there. So we’re really excited to dive in here. (Sandy speaking) Thanks, Stephanie. I’m very excited to be here and absolutely a fervent fan of the travel industry and of travel professionals and absolutely believe that there’s never been a time a better time to work in travel than there is right now and so I’m excited to get to talk to people about our topic today of rookie mistakes and how to avoid them because even if you’ve been in travel for just a little while or there are people who have been in trouble for three or four or five or six years who still making some of those rookie mistakes, but it’s never too late to fix those, correct?
(Stephanie speaking) Yes, exactly. And that’s why we’re really excited here today to learn and see your presentation. So the presentation will be it. I think you might be like maybe 20 or a little under 20 minutes or so. But really the great thing is that we’re going to have plenty of time in the end to answer any questions that come out of this. So once again to before Sandy gets started here just want to point out that questions box so go ahead and ask those in there. I’ll watch those throughout and then start asking those at the end. So with that being said, Sandy. I’ll let you take it away.
(Sandy speaking) Alright, wonderful. Well, we’ve got plenty of time for questions. So, please do feel free to ask any questions that you have to pop them in that question box. I’ll be happy to address any of them. So today’s topic rookie mistakes and how to avoid them. Let me give just a little bit of sort of where the thought process comes from this in the 18 years that I’ve been working in the travel industry of working with people who have been in the travel industry for dozens of years, to say the least. I’ve worked with people who are brand new to the travel industry. I’ve worked with everybody in between and there are some common things of the sort of mistakes that people make at because they don’t know any better and one of the things that probably all of you on the call, if you’ve been in the travel industry for more than five minutes, you probably recognize the travel industry is really kind of strange in a lot of ways.
Very different than a lot of other Industries and it does lend itself is not the right term, but maybe it requires a lot of research and it really forces you to conform to certain norms and standards and some ways and it doesn’t give you some of the flexibility that it does that other industry might but there’s a lot of ways where there is great flexibility, but you have to know what the right approach is and how to move forward and let me also give a disclaimer here that what the group of people that this really is designed for is for people primarily people who are working as independent contractors or have their own agency or who are you know, you have a franchise whatever the case might be.
That’s the market that we serve at Global Institute For Travel Entrepreneurs and so if you’re a brick and mortar employee, I’m sure there are some things in this that you can take and become what’s called an entrepreneur. So you are bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to working inside another business. So there’s definitely a few things that you can take away from it. But primarily this is geared towards travel entrepreneurs. So there are three different rookie mistakes that we’re going to talk about today and everybody in the travel industry. If you ask a hundred different people the same question, you probably get a hundred sixty-five different answers because everybody has a different answer so I want to make sure that you know that this is the perspective not just my perspective but this is our perspective that GIFTE and we have 1,100 members across the world.
Primarily North America, but across the world and GIFTE is not host agency, we’re a membership organization that provides training and education to people who want to be more successful in their travel businesses and they want to make money and they want to have work-life balance and there’s nothing wrong with saying I want to make more money and I want to be more financially secure and I want to work less hours. One of the things that I think is a mistake as a whole in the travel industry is that we glamorize working hard. It’s better to work. A lot of people think it’s better to work seven days a week. I’m up till two o’clock in the morning handling reservations, and I really wish we would stop doing that because there’s no work-life balance associated with that.
So our goal at GIFTE is to help you be as successful as you can be and so that’s why sometimes while we don’t like to focus on the negative. Sometimes the best way that you can learn is by looking at the mistakes other people have made and avoiding them. Sometimes the best example you can be is to be a bad example. So that’s what we’re going to talk about. So mistake number one.
Mistake number one is failing to pick a specialty. So what exactly is a specialty when you’re working in travel? A specialty in travel is something that helps you identify the market that you serve. So I help is this group of people to do this so that they can do that. I help families have an amazing International vacation so that they can have a great time together or I help luxury clients who love to have phenomenal cruise vacations. There are lots of different things that you can say our specialties. What’s in not a specialty is just saying Family Travel or just cruises or something like that, but these are generally just too broad the purpose of a specialty and the reason why it’s so important to have one.
Is it helps you really clear about your marketing and so as a result if it’s a mistake not to pick a specialty because your specialty is driving your marketing? So one of the biggest challenges that people have when they work in travel is finding clients. It’s not figuring out what the book how to book. But sure that can be an obstacle the first time you do it but people generally get over that but what’s a bigger obstacle is having somebody to sell something to I know lots and lots of agents who have a stack of training certificates. It looks like a Sears Roebuck catalog. For those of you who are old like I am their remember Sears catalogs who have that have the stack of those certificates and they have a lot of knowledge, but they don’t have anybody to sell it to and the reason they don’t have anybody to say.
It too is because they don’t know what the point of working what then is so just going out and saying I’m a travel agent book was me is not sufficient any longer. It’s it was back in the day when you had to go to somebody who could help you book something. So back in the day when you wanted a plane ticket you either had to go to the airline directly or go to a travel agent or somebody who had that computer system that could book the tickets for you. Well, that’s not the case anymore. It’s not the case of cruises or tours or hotels or anything booking is not the issue the issue now is that people don’t have enough time to do the research. They don’t know what they’re getting. They don’t know how to choose. Those are all reasons to work for the travel professional. It’s not about the booking.
So when you pick a specialty what you’re doing is saying this is what I’m really good at. This is the Market within the travel business that I want to serve and within that specialty within that market, this is what I can offer them. So if you came to me and said that you are a travel agent, it doesn’t really tell me much if you come to me and you say and I say, hey, it’s nice to meet you. What do you do? And you tell me that you are a travel advisor who works with families with children with special needs to craft amazing vacation. Wow, that gets my attention that makes me want to follow up and ask questions. Thanks. I’m a travel agent, end of conversation. So it is not just these one-on-one conversations. Is that are so important to your marketing. It’s how you’re going to market yourself. So let me tell you what does not.
In social media just rehashing vendor content and going to Disney travel agents.com or cruising power or book CCL or any of those sites and grabbing promotions and then just putting them on there. That’s great for those vendors which is why they give you all these tools, but your marketing should talk about you and what it is that you have to offer and if you aren’t very clear on your specialty then it makes it much harder to know who you’re going to market to and where those people are.
So let me give you a couple of examples of people who these are all people who got into the travel industry brand-new and who have developed target markets we have. There’s an agent who lives in South Carolina that I know who he and his wife specialize in serving military and Veterans so he retired from the military after 28 years and he went out into Corporate America and found that that was not his thing and he decided to get into travel and did a travel training program and through that learned that this is the audience that I want to serve. So his specialty is focused on the group of people. So he is focused on that group of people and how he can bring value to them. So to Market himself he needs to understand. Okay. I know who these people are and now I need to know how to get in front of them. So maybe that means expose maybe that means conferences certainly it can mean social media. It can be direct mail. It can mean a lot of different things but he knows who it is.
He’s trying to get in front of if everybody is your potential client, then you don’t have a specialty and you’ve got a problem because you’re marketing is not to be affected. Another example is in age and I know who specializes in river cruising and particularly groups within river cruising. And so that’s what she does. She does lots of different River cruises, but she just does River Cruises now if she’s booked a group of she’s also a curler and so she does the sport of curling and so she did a group of the curlers. And if one of them came back and said, thank you so much for helping me with this amazing group. I had such a great time, you know, my wife and I would really like to go to Hawaii. Is that something you can help us with? Absolutely you can so just because you specialize doesn’t prevent you from selling other products.
So it’s important to recognize that your specialties are market and specialist make more money, but just because you specialize does not mean that you can’t d something else. So keep that in mind it is all about marketing. Now a lot of people that you talked to who are who have been in travel for a few years will tell you just get into it book everything do anything whatever clients want just do it. And then over time, you’ll figure out your specialty. Here’s my personal problem about and I’m sure that that works fine for some people but first of all that is postponing success. It’s going to take you that much longer to get to the point where you are making a lot more money where you’re putting more money in your pocket. So that’s not challenging. Number one Challenge number two is it is really hard to retrain clients.
If you don’t believe me go find a colleague who specializes in Disney who specialized in Disney who is now trying to not specialize in did me and say Everybody still thinks of them as the Disney guy or the Disney girl. So it’s really hard to retrain your clients. So that’s the second reason that I think that it is a mistake and the third reason I think is kind of more esoteric and that is what you’re really saying is I’m afraid to make a decision. I’m afraid to put this emphasis on my business. I’m afraid to make this decision and go down this path and this kind of speaks to a larger issue that that’s really kind of a part of each of the three mistakes that we’re going to talk about today. And that is that you’re approaching this as an employee. You’re not coming at this as an entrepreneur when you are an entrepreneur, this is your business. You’re not attracting just to travel agent. You are a travel entrepreneur. You have got to be proud of what you do.
You’ve got to be proud of What it is that you offer and you’ve got to make business decisions not just decisions based on one with them or another you have to make business decisions and a business decision is deciding what it is that you want to a special event. Imagine if you were going to open up a restaurant and somebody said well, what kind of research are you going to have? I’m going to sell everything. I’m going to have breakfast. I’m going to have steak. I’m going to have sandwiches. I’m going to tell you I’ serve Chinese. I’m going to have Mexican, any kind of food. You might want I’m going to have it in my restaurant. Well, that is a logistical nightmare.
And you could certainly market yourself as no matter what you want to eat. Come here. I can fix it for you. But from a travel standpoint that doesn’t work because generalist are seen as less valuable and specialist make more money research shows. This asked as research shows us the travel institute’s research show this every bit of research out there will tell you, specialist, simply makes more money and I think there are several reasons for that one is I think when you’re a specialist, you probably have done the homework to figure out what it is.
You want to specialize in what it is that you’re good at what it is that you are going to promote to the market but because of that you have more confidence in what it is that you want to do and I think the other reason that specialists make more money is it’s because Their clients appreciate them more if you do a little bit of everything, you’re a jack of all trades, but master of none. Your clients aren’t going to see your value as clearly as if you are a specialist. So if you are a family who has a child with special needs and you’re trying to plan a vacation and you can work with somebody who have knowledge of maybe what the implications are of cruising for child with special needs or going to different Resorts or different destinations, or if you specialize in working with people who have mobility challenges, those are all things that the advice and the expertise and the guidance that you’re going to give your client are going to be hugely important to them. It’s going to make a measurable difference in what it is that you have to offer them.
If your client cruises on a cruise or whatever every year and do a just a different itinerary every year and they know they like this kind of stateroom, what value are you bringing to them? If the value that you’re bringing to them is in helping them plan excursions and pre and post cruise hotels and putting together an entire package. That’s great. But if all you’re doing is doing the booking then that’s not bringing value. So special spring value and bringing value equates to money.
And the last webinar that I did for Travefy Academy was about fees and charging fees and the importance of that and how to structure them and these are an important topic but in the travel business and specials charge higher fees, they make more money because their clients are happy to pay that fee. Even if you’re not charging a fee, you’ll still make more money because you do a better job of marketing and you don’t sell as many one-off products. So so that’s why special hopefully you see and if you’ve got questions about that, feel free to put them in the questions box there and we can come back to them later as well and Stephanie can share those with me and I’m happy to address them. But bottom line specialist makes more money. They don’t work themselves to death. They just have a stronger, more sustainable business model marketing is much easier because you know who it is, you’re trying to get in front of and you know, what kind of message that you need to to give them but it does not limit you from selling something else. So if you decided all I what I really love is river cruising and that’s what you want to book.
And somebody who you put river cruise for comes to you and says hey, I really want to go skiing in France. You can help them if you want to or you can say that’s not for me, that’s not my area of specialty, but I have a colleague that I would love to refer you to for that totally your call. Does that prevent you from selling other products, but it’s all about driving marketing. So that is the first mistake is not taking a specialty. So let’s look at mistake number two.
Mistake number two is focusing too much on vendor training. So one of the things about the travel industry that I absolutely love is that the vendors do a really, really good job of putting out a training program and training programs on their products. Not every vendor offers training. If you’re dealing with a destination management company or DMC who specializes in Portugal they probably don’t have the infrastructure to put together an amazing training program.
But if you’re talking about a wholesaler or a destination or a cruise line is they probably have a great training program and it’s very tempting when you get into travel to want to do vendor training online courses webinars, FAMs, everything and anything because you feel like I’m learning. Unfortunately, that’s not the case all training is not created equal and it’s just doing training is not a substitute for working in your business and likewise, vendor training is for many agents, especially when they first get started and hence why it’s a rookie mistake. There’s a lot of Agents out there that spend 80% of their day learning about vendors, researching vendors, taking FAMs, doing certification programs and then they don’t have anybody to sell this amazing knowledge that they’ve generated to but they have that they’ve developed they don’t have anybody to help build that business. So you need to know how to run a business not just still travel if you’re going to be a travel entrepreneur and you are going to be either an independent contractor.
Or you’re in some way getting something other than a paycheck. You need to know how to run a business. You need to know about profitability. You need to know about yield. You need to know about charging fees. There are so many different things you need to know about how to market lots of different topics that you need. So it’s not just travel training that you need is business training as well and this business that business training can come from a lot of different places, but I think the natural default is because there’s so much vendor training out there. We just feel like when we’re doing that kind of course or for taking a FAM but that was using our time wisely and that’s not necessarily the case.
If your approach is just to do lots of vendor training and you are just learning about everything and doing everything, you’ll end up working a lot more and making a lot less because this is really a key symptom of an employee mindset and at GIFTE we talked about this a lot because we’re the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs. So we’re dealing travel entrepreneurs and it’s a real challenge for a lot of people who have worked for a company and they are accustomed to having to get permission from a manager a ball supervisor. Whatever you want to call them to do different things to then go in and have their own business.
They love the idea of I’m the boss I get to make the decision, but sometimes I say that but they don’t really believe it. And so a lot of times we see people who focus on this vendor training. It’s like, okay, I’ll take all this vendor courses. And now now I’m okay I’m giving myself permission to sell this product. And if I don’t know everything about everything I can’t possibly sell it. How could I possibly sell a cruise line if I haven’t done their certification program and I haven’t sailed on them. And so until I do that. I cannot sell their product that is simply not true. You do not have to experience in everything in order to sell it that if course going and visiting and taking certification programs help but just doing it randomly is not such a use of good use of your time.
We talked a lot about the highest and best use of your particular skill set and your particular time and when you are trying to build a business the highest and best use of your time is getting clients and getting somebody to do business with and so in order to do that, you need to be marketing doing business development activities. And if you are spending too much time on vendor training you just simply don’t have enough hours in the day to do that. And sometimes we default to that because it’s easier and it just makes things more comfortable and you can just say hey, here’s what I did and hey, I did the certification what a benefit it is.
And another thing that a lot of people think brings in business, and I promise you it doesn’t, is when you take those certification program and you get that certificate and you take a picture, you post on your social media update that does not translate to a client the same way it translates. You understand what you put into that, they don’t care. They just want to know what’s in it for them.
And so if you want to say I just completed a comprehensive training program for XYZ product. And so now if you are looking to to take a group on a trip that is going to be easily spine and you know, whatever the attributes are. Did you come up with I can help you with that, but just in general just having done the course does not bring you anymore clients.
And then mistake number three is relying too much on friends and family. So first of all for 99% of Agents, it just does not work to rely on your friends and family. Now, if you are one of the agents listening to this call and all of your friends and family are very well-traveled, very high spenders, very high net-worth individuals. You might be able to build a business based just on your friends and family, but that makes you one percent not the 99% So here’s what happens.
A new agent and we’ll call her Janice decides that she’s going to get into the travel business. She gets signed up with a host agency. She does some vendor training programs. She goes out to all her friends and family says hey, I’m doing this new thing. It’s really cool. I’m so excited you travel. I’d love to help you people come to her. They make some inquiries. She makes some initial booking. She’s feeling like this is awesome. I don’t need to Market myself. I’m booking my friends. They’re referring their friends and for a few weeks or a few months. It’s a really great rush and it’s going really well. But then when you look at it, maybe you’ve booked, you know, fifty thousand dollars, maybe only 20 maybe 75 but you know, not a hundred thousand dollars worth of sales from this initial Rush of friends and family.
That’s not enough to support a business if you consider that the average yield on a booking has between 10 and 12 percent because even if the vendor saying 17, most everything not everything in that book is going to be commissionable because are in many cases is not there’s other non-commissionable charges. So even $100,000 if you are only getting an average of 12% that’s $12,000. And if you have a host agency who is getting a split of that or and you have other expenses to that’s that’s not a lot of money and so what happens is people initially run out and they focus on the friends and family and I’m absolutely you probably should do that. I’ll tell you the downside the other downside of that just a second.
But don’t stop marketing and don’t use it as a substitute for the marketing that you want to do. It’s it’s not enough your friends and family are not going to be enough and quite honestly it for those of you who are on the call has been doing this for a while. I bet you at least one or two of you who agree with me for many of you your friends and family or the worst clients that you will ever get in many cases. They don’t want to pay your fee. If you charge a professional see and I really hope that you do they don’t want to not all of them, but some of them may not want to pay your fee. Some of them can be very difficult to work with. So for a lot of people they get into it thinking that’s how they’ll build their business, but it doesn’t pan out that way for 99% of the agents. So that’s just something to keep in mind. It’s not only a demographic that you may not want. It’s a demographic that can be that can be a great early.
Rush of looking but long term it’s not really sustainable. So the three mistakes that people make early on is not picking a specialty which really can be a challenge because it what it means is you’ve jumped into this without putting a lot of thought into what it is that you want to do and believe me I get it it’s not as simple as oh, let me look at this menu of things. Okay. There’s 15 options there. I’m going to pick that one. I’m going to pick item number 16 that’s going to be my specialty. It doesn’t work. That way. You have to really put some thought it just if you were going to open a Consulting business, which is essentially what you’re doing. What is it that you want to specialize in because what kind of business is going to be the best use of your skill set? What are you going to be the best bet so not to use specialty?
Spending too much time on vendor training and then relying too much on friends and family. This is the three biggest mistakes that we that we see people people make but another mistake that that people make that I think is important to address is they become too isolated and they don’t have a really good community mostly why I shouldn’t say most but mirror are many and it me statistically the most travel agents today or working from home. And so that can be very isolating you can feel especially when you’re getting started you feel all alone. So you need a really good community whether it’s your host agency, whether it’s a franchise, whether it’s maybe you’re part of an act or ask the small business that work is it’s now known or some other group of Agents where you get together?
That’s all really important and you also need a for people to go to not just for camaraderie, but you also need a group of people that you can ask questions of and that you can get insight into because sometimes you just need to say I have two options here A and B, and I’m not sure which is the right one to go with and whether that’s a client thing you’re looking at. Hey, my clients want to go to France and they’re going to take their kids in there looking at this option in this option. You know, I like this because of that. What do you guys think? Sometimes she just want input from somebody who gets it and sometimes you just want to know that you’re part of a group that gets at period so they get the trials and tribulation that you run into that they get the things that you have to deal with on a regular basis, but as supporting and supportive and amazing as I’m sure your family is they don’t always understand what is involved with working as a travel professional. So it’s important to have a community.
So just please don’t go out and do this and isolation. There are I think that it’s very rare that somebody can get into this industry and go out and do it on their own under their own credentials. They get a CLIA number true number whatever and be successful. You are really doing it the hard way. You’re not going to make as much money. You’re going to work a lot harder. You can be isolated. It’s a challenge. So that’s another mistake that we see some people make when they get into the industry and there there are definitely options out there. You can you can certainly join a community like gift which is not a we’re not a gift is not a host agency. So we have people who are working under there and credentials. There are hosted with lots of different host agencies there their franchise owners.
There’s brick and mortar employees, lots of people but Memberships 20 bucks a month super cheap, but it’s only open till Friday. So it’s open opens one time a year. So Friday two days from now is when membership closes so check it out. You can go to giftemembership.com will travel business you as the number or the address travel business no letter you.com to learn more about about what we do because we support travel entrepreneurs. So we want to help you understand what it is that you can do to be a successful as possible.
So with that in mind Stephanie do we have some questions from from any of the attendees? (Stephanie speaking) We do so thank you so much for that. That was awesome. A lot of people agreed with one of your final points of with friends and family. It sounds like a lot of people kind of have that experience in that they get it. Yeah, you don’t even want your friends and family to know what your travel agency phone number is. Oh man. Yeah. Yeah, which is really interesting. It’s because when you’re starting a new business that is exciting and an easy way to ramp up but yeah, so that’s a great point there. So we had all kinds of different questions. I tried to segment them together a little bit. At the beginning when we were talking about your specialties, you know doing that you kind of answered some of these questions as they came in but it kind of sounds like a lot of people are trying to figure out what is their specialty in how narrow that should be.
So one person, which is a broad question here, is how do you decide what to pick as your specialty? Do you have any unique stories of agents finding because you mention the one with the military but is there anyone who just tried to figure it and it kind of found them. Do you have any stories kind of like that or how to find it? (Sandy speaking) Sure. So we have one of the first conversations that we have, you know when I talk to people and I say what is it? What are you passionate about? Why did why did you get into travel? I mean nobody got in to travel because they wanted to learn how to use the different technology platforms that are in travel and amazing as as they are and we’re so thankful that tools like travel five which make our attend dreary and and are the documents that we send clients for especially for groups look amazing, but nobody got into the industry to learn how to use that they got into the industry because they either are passionate about a particular type of travel or there certain kinds of travel that they like to do.
And so really spinning sometimes really into why is it that you want to do that? Why do you what is it you love about that and figuring out how you can make that a specialty is a great place to start but I have seen people with some of the most amazing Specialties that you can imagine. So we have we have an example here. Okay. So there’s a woman I know who just does genealogy trips for people who are looking to trace their ancestry in primarily, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and parts of Western Europe. That’s it. That’s what she does. I know one woman who just does Tea Room Tours who she takes people around the country from around the country to places around the world to do to try different
types of tea get a different tea room just you know, they’ve course there’s it’s not just about the Tea it’s about the culture and the history and architecture and the art but the tea is the common denominator, there’s a lots of people who focus on food and/or wine. We’re seeing more people get into chocolate related travel, but probably more commonly. It’s a not about the type of travel as much as it is about the traveler. So there are people who focus on family groups and so with specifically within families, they may miss out so kisan Family Travel for multi-generational troops, and that’s what they do. So everything and they do with bigger groups of people bigger meaning maybe it’s eight or ten people or it may be 80 people but they’re doing multi-generational sort of reunions kind of trip.
There are people who do music trips pretty much and the great thing about picking a specialty like this is there is absolutely zero reason unless you want to their 0 reason you have to focus your specialty your travel business on your local destination. So you can live in the middle of nowhere, like literally 40 miles from the nearest human and still have a successful travel business working with people all over the country. And so don’t don’t say well I can’t focus on food and wine because there’s not that many great restaurants where I lived don’t limit yourself to your own backyard just like you shouldn’t limit yourself to trips you could afford to book yourself and I see that all the time when people who say oh I could never sell that product. I would never spend that kind of money on the trip.
Well, Doesn’t matter how much you can afford to spend on the trip. You’re not paying for it. So don’t tell from your own pocketbook. Don’t limit yourself to your backyard either. I think the main thing you have to do is to be brave enough to sit down and say what am I passionate about? What do I love to do? Who am I best at helping and if you’ve been in this industry for a while and you have a specialized I’m a big believer that everything you do either gives you energy or it takes your energy. And so if you sit down and you think about what are the trips that I’ve done that I absolutely love the most what was it about it that I loved was it the people that I liked working with was it because I was making a difference in a family with it because I was working for a business and I loved putting together their incentive trips or that I love putting together corporate retreats.
Was it the type of travel because I’m passionate about Hawaii or I’m passionate about France or Italy or wherever in the world you’re passionate about all of those things can lead you towards your your specialty. So just don’t limit yourself to the specialties that other people know because the people out there who are doing the coolest things and who are making a lot of money doing it or the ones that are have the really deep different unique specialty if you think about it, if you’re thinking about an attorney, if you’re going to an attorney who does everything from wills, divorces, traffic court, criminal cases anything you can imagine to an attorney who just works with a certain type of client who’s going to make more because those attorney has specializing I can promise you that they have a higher per hour fee and they probably work less and yet make more money.
(Stephanie speaking) Awesome. And yeah, we had a quite a bit of questions kind of on the specialty stuff. But there is one someone just mentioned a statement that I kind of evolved it into a question and it goes into another question that we had to is so someone mentioned that they have three specialties and that’s river cruising, faith-based in South Africa. Someone else also focuses on Europe and Africa. So a question on that is how do you marry them all together or do you not and you have almost separate businesses or entities that you can focus when somebody approaches you and finding you so how would you approach that?
(Sandy speaking) So, you know, there are sometimes people who have more than one specialty that they can that they can sort of run concurrently. The challenge is you almost have to think about every different specialty as a different business. And so if your specialties are South Africa River cruising, what was the third the middle one (Stephanie speaking) their faith-based in South Africa faith-based? (Sandy speaking) Okay. So if you’re doing faith-based tours that is going to be one marketing segments. If you’re doing South Africa that could be a different group of people if you’re doing River Cruises, that’s a completely different.
So now you’re having to run three different businesses, three different marketing campaigns, three different, even if you think about your communication with your clients on a regular basis, that’s three different communication tracks, and and I really hope don’t understand the person who asked the question, but in my experience a lot of times when people have more than one specialty it’s because they’re they’re operating out of fear and they’re afraid to let go of one or two of those specially because they don’t trust enough in their ability to deliver on that one and operating out of fear never is successful. So I would just encourage you to really look at why are you operating those three different ones now?
If you really feel passionate about each of those three, maybe the better thing to do is to bring in some eye sees who can help you. Maybe one spearheads one thing one spearheads another maybe you genuinely have feet in each of those four so many of three feet but regardless maybe you have entree into communities that serve those three areas and it makes sense for you to go after all of them and then that case you need to have other people who are helping you sort of pursue that because one of the things that I see a lot in travel is people who do other things until their travel business gets up off the ground. Hey, believe me I get it, the bills have to be paid and a lot of people working full-time job while they’re getting their travel business off the ground.
But if you are a travel agent and a wedding photographer and a real estate agent and you know, something else you’re probably not really doing any of those businesses the justice that they deserve you’re not giving them the attention that they deserve and so it’s really important to think about does it really make sense to have more than one specialty and and again, sometimes it goes back to the reason people choose more than one is because they feel like there’s not enough business in my hometown or a migrator geographical area to support just one of those Specialties will stop thinking that way you can help a client who 2,000 miles from you just as easily as you can somebody in your own backyard. It’s not like every client that you work with you sit down with them throughout the process. You probably work with them by phone fax fax phone email text message social media message, whatever so don’t feel like you have to do to do that in your own backyard.
(Stephanie speaking) Awesome, and one last question on specialties because this is another one that I’m not sure if we quite covered yet is someone else on here mentioned that they are doing travel planning for Japan. So they’ve narrowed it down to Japan, but they’re wondering should they specialize in something with in Japan? So an example solo women with skiing? What are your thoughts on that?
(Sandy speaking) Oh, I think you’ve got I think you absolutely could do that. You could use, I know people who specialize in a destination that they work with with any of those groups. So it might be that you have solo women who want to travel to Japan. But so let’s email travelers could be a niche all on its own specialty. And if you do decide to just keep it more broad, you certainly could do marketing campaigns from time to time aimed at those people. So maybe you do a whole campaign around Japan-specific to people who would be traveling alone solo travelers or family traveling to Japan and it might be that there’s different times of year that lend themselves more to that type of campaign that others and that makes makes sense for you to pursue.
Each of those marketing campaigns in session again that all comes down to two planning and if you if you don’t feel like it’s stretching you too thin to serve those different demographics, then you can serve them but if it becomes a real challenge to to manage those marketing campaigns, then you have to do that and remember your marketing campaigns need to be very specific to why clients should work with you what you can do for them. It’s not just about Japan. It’s not just about the tour operators union work with for Japan. It’s about you and why you are the right person to help them book that trip.
(Stephanie speaking) Also to shift gears a little bit from specialties we had a couple questions. So towards the last that you were talking about or the last point that you were making about, you know, not spending so much time training and going on FAM trips and all kinds of things like that and you’re actually building a business. So there are a couple questions in here. One of many asked where do we get appropriate business training? There’s so much that I don’t know. So, is there any places where you would recommend going to?
(Sandy speaking) Absolutely, so the and and you know, it’s something that’s been a real issue in our industry from the get-go from for a long time. And that’s exactly how GIFTE came about the founder of GIFTE. Her name is Meredith Hill had a company and she specialized in travel to South African safaris. And that was her niche and she recognized I know the destination. I’m that’s all good. But what I don’t know is profitability. How do I Market myself? How do I get more clients and my making money am I making good business decisions? And so she went out into the travel industry to find where the travel business training came from and found there wasn’t any travel business training. And so that’s why she created GIFTE and so our website is travel business you the letter you.com and that’s all we do. We provide training on everything from the number.
Any ideas managing how you manage your your business to marketing fundamentals and all kinds of training on business related topics that that is exactly what we were created for and that’s what we do and we do it for people from people who are just getting started to people who are selling 20 million dollars a year. We do it for people who are working under their own credentials posted franchise brick-and-mortar anybody who needs more help on the business aspects of running a travel business. So when you take off that travel age, I had you put on the chief marketing officer hat or the CEO has CFO hat and you need help. That’s what that’s what GIFTE is. And so it’s but the thing was GIFTE is it’s only open for membership a couple of times a year and it just reopened.
After having been closed for like seven months. So if you go to GIFTE membership.com, you can find out more about why GIFTE would be a great benefit. I personally think of course, I’m biased because I work here but I think for 20 bucks a month you get so much education from that organization that it’s just unbelievable to kind of acknowledge that our members get an r and it’s a great community because they readily share information and support one another so it’s not a competitive. Oh, I can’t share anything with you because it might cost me business or it might cost me. They we Foster and the idea of a rising tide lifts all boats. And so we want the travel industry to be extraordinarily successful. And so that’s how we champion travel entrepreneurs.
(Stephanie speaking) Awesome, and thank you. Thanks for sharing that I was going to ask that next because I know some people were asking for that too. So I know we are getting here and it sorry if there’s any questions that we didn’t get, you know, feel free to email us and I can connect with Sandy and get an answer to your question. But one last question that we did have is we were talking about the business training. Sondra asks how many hours should one dedicate to learning or in someone else has like what’s the percentage of your time? That would be the best to dedicate yourself to learning more?
(Sandy speaking) So as you know learning is really important and what we what we usually see is that you know, there’s an 80/20 rule for everything and what we usually see with especially with newer entrepreneurs is that they spend about 80% of their time learning about the travel industry and about 20% of their time building their business and actually implementing the things that they learn and you really need to flip that you really need to spend about 20% of your time learning and about 80% of your time doing and its really taste the the doing is really about taking action on what you learned in the training. And so that’s why I think probably the hardest thing that that agents have to learn how to do is to just because the the travel industry is so full of what I call Candy. It’s like oh Bora Bora. Oh, that’s beautiful. Yes. I want to go.
Here I want to learn about that. Oh, look at that. That’s beautiful. Look at that destination. Oh, look at that brand new cruise ship that does the Galapagos that’s really cool too. And so it’s very easy to just get sucked into all that and you have all this little random bits of knowledge. So if there was such a thing as traveled Jeopardy you mean you would be amazing at it, but you’re not putting into action what you’re learning. And so we suggest that people spend no more than 20% of their time working on these kinds of training programs. It’s been 80 percent of the time putting into practice what they’ve learned.
Hopefully that helps answer the question and of course, it’s hard to you know, just randomly pick a number and of course nobody keeps up with their time that way but I think If you think that you’re spending too much time on training you probably are and if you’re doing if you have a whole huge stack of certificate and you and you start to go do another one from another training program. It means just really stop and think do what is that the highest and best use of my time right now or what could I do instead to attract more clients than a try to build my prospect list because building that Prospect list is the most important thing you can do long term for your business is constantly adding people to that list of people who maybe they’re not ready to work with you right now, but you need to start educating them about what you do because marketing is that learning and so you have to you it’s a it’s an evolutionary cycle and you have to constantly be adding and educating clients and adding more clients and and booking clients and getting new referrals. So it’s a constant process.
(Stephanie speaking) And that’s great and thank you so much again. It looks like unfortunately, we’ll have to wrap up we could sit here for so long and just learn so many things there’s so many great things. This has been amazing and thank you so much and thanks everyone who joined today to again if there’s any questions that you know yet lingered or if there’s this one if the website you need to get more information. Just reply back to the email. You’ll get it in about less than an hour, maybe 45 minutes. once this recording gets done rendering and then I’ll be sent to you and feel free, you know reply back and ask us any questions, but otherwise enjoy the rest of your Wednesday everyone and thank you so much again Sandy. It was great chatting with you today.
(Sandy speaking) Thank you, Stephanie. Thanks everybody for dropping by. Hope you have a great day. Thanks Stephanie.
(Stephanie speaking) Bye!