It takes more work, yes, but selling group travel is one of the most rewarding avenues for the home-based agent to explore, financially and otherwise. People with shared interests like to travel together because it provides companionship and promotes new friendships.
Group members learn from experienced tour directors and guides, they travel with less stress, and save money because costs are spread out over the whole group, as group rates are usually lower than individual rates.
The safety factor of group travel is important – there is security in numbers and confidence in professional group leaders who can take care of all the details. Everything is looked after, from air and land transportation to hotels, meals, sightseeing, and baggage handling.
Those are the advantages to the traveller.
The travel professional as well finds advantages in group travel. It’s an easy sell for a start – once you have highlighted the benefits of group travel to the consumer. Also, depending on final numbers, tour operators and airlines often offer free travel for the tour leader.
Happy customers mean repeat customers and, just as important, means unofficial sales people for your next group! Confidence in the tour leader can lead to repeat customers wanting to travel together again.
Here are some helpful tips to help facilitate group travel sales:
Always work with a professional, experienced tour operator
Get competitive quotes to compare costs, inclusions/exclusions etc. Have your air and land costs quoted in non-commissionable net amounts so you determine your final pricing.
Find a tour operator that specializes in the destination you want to sell, and find one with a dedicated Groups department. Build rapport with one of the department’s Group coordinators because you will be working with them for up to a year on the one group excursion.
A specialist Groups department should offer:
- Expert itinerary planning with unique inclusions
- To design and print a personalized brochure from their in-house Graphics department
- Competitive land and air net costs
- Product and services for one-off, customized groups, air-only groups, and group allotments on a series of tours
- Expert staff and outstanding customer service
- Financial security for your travel funds
- Marketing support from sales managers for training, consumer evenings, and so on.
Finding people to make up the group
The makings of a group are all around you in your community. The people you know, the clubs you belong to, the local newspapers and magazines that arrive on your doorstep, they are all sources for potential groups.
Talk to your friends, your neighbours, your family, and/or your work colleagues and discover who they know is travelling or wants to travel. Join a club. Nine out of ten adults belong to at least one organization, one out of four belong to four or more. Go to the local club meetings and make yourself known. Remember, networking is the key!
Themed groups that could yield travel prospects include:
- Church groups
- Seniors clubs
- Book clubs
- Garden/horticulture clubs
- Rotary/Lions clubs
- Alumni associations
- Dive clubs
- School/college groups
- Hiking/walker clubs
- Hospital auxiliaries
- Square dancers
- Farmer bureaus
- Wine/culinary clubs
- Sporting events
Filling your group
Plan early. Start organizing and promoting your group at least 8-12 months before departure. Have a schedule in place from the beginning for all your marketing and promotional activities.
Build a rapport early with your selected tour operator. Get to know your group and which “travel buttons” to push to make them buy. Hold consumer evenings with your tour operator to sell the benefits of the tour by using videos and/or Power Point presentations, etc. Leave them wanting more.
Have an early-bird booking discount, giveaway travel bags etc. to promote the trip, and advertise – local radio stations, newspapers, newsletters, editorials, word of mouth, websites, and so on. Maintain an up-to-date database and use direct mail promotions.
Remember to always follow up, follow up, follow up!
Follow Your Passion
If you love to travel (and if you’re in this business, you do!), you will instill your passion in all you do to promote your groups. There will always be obstacles to overcome when taking on group travel planning, from deposit/payment deadlines to last minute airline schedule changes, but the advantages always outweigh any negatives.
Sell yourself, be serious about group sales, and don’t give up!
For more information on our Groups department, please visit www.goway.com.