Are you eager to expand your client base but struggling to find new opportunities? It may be easier than you think. Consider these opportunities on how to get started:
1. Seek recommendations from loyal clientele.
Don’t be shy – the next time one of your long-time clients pays you a visit or gives you a call, simply ask if anyone in their circle of friends is in the midst of planning a vacation and might be interested in your expertise. You have nothing to lose – they may hand over contact information for a qualified prospect on the spot! Alternatively, leverage your e-mail communications by sending an offer out to your existing client base; for example, tell them you’ll waive the service fees on their next booking if any recommendation they provide leads to a new client for you.
2. Take advantage of free marketing opportunities.
Post an ad on Craig’s List and Kijiji to market yourself. The sites each have a Travel, Vacations section (written as travel/vac on Craig’s List) under their Services tab, where you can post for free. Title your post creatively but effectively, such as “Experienced travel agent available to book your next dream vacation!” Within the post, make sure to include a brief description of your specialties, and of course, your contact information. This will take no more than 10 minutes to do and it is totally free – why would you not do this? (Tip: These sites are organized by location. Post on whichever site best represents your place of business, but don’t stop there – you can easily work with clients from other Canadian cities as well!)
3. Network with community groups & local businesses.
Local church groups, retirement homes, high schools, colleges, universities – these and so many more frequently organize group-specific trips. Reach out to community leaders to introduce yourself and vie for their business. In addition, reach out to local businesses to see if they may be interested in co-hosting a trip with you. For example, woo your local nursery or florist into marketing a customized holiday that focuses on gardens and flora; a local restaurant might want to co-host a foodie-focused tour; or a local theatre group that could be persuaded into hosting a theatre-themed journey somewhere well-known for its live entertainment options.
4. The grocery store.
You never know who you might meet in line at the grocery store, at Costco, or even at your favourite local coffee shop. Keep business cards with you at all times, and even if it means pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, don’t be shy to approach people and hand them out. Just the same, keep a pen and small notebook handy if you feel so inclined so you can capture their contact information as well, as a way to be in control of your next interaction.
5. Host events.
It doesn’t take a big investment to host a consumer night with any of your preferred travel partners. Use social media to market the event, as well as sites such as Eventbrite and MeetUp.com. Invite existing clientele and encourage them to bring friends. Provide some light snacks and a few beverages to kick the event off, and follow-up with all attendees to gauge their interest in booking, if they don’t follow-up with you first.
This piece was brought to you by Air Canada, as part of the airline’s ongoing efforts to support travel agents. ACTA members click here to access Air Canada’s ACTA Training program for agencies.