In the 12 years that agency owner Muriel Mozzi has been in
business, she has taken many proactive steps to promote adventure
travel. Consumer seminars, an agency newsletter, client outings and
luncheons, local advertising and client surveys are among the
measures that have helped drive adventure travel sales for The
Travel Station, located in the upscale community of Lincoln, Mass.
Those ventures have proven hugely successful. Today, adventure
travel accounts for about 60% of the leisure agency's tour
business. Yet for all those marketing measures, Mozzi attributes
her agency's success in the specialty niche to one factor above all
others -- agent travel. "Making sure our agents have gone on trips
probably has been the most successful thing we've done," she
Mozzi's one-word advice to agents eager to sell adventure
Bea Goldstein, a partner at Northside Travel in Brewster, Mass.,
echoes Mozzi's counsel. When an agent can say to a client they've
taken a specific trip or visited the destination it builds client
confidence in the agent, she says.
Traveling is one way agents can get a feel for the products of
different adventure travel suppliers, Goldstein notes, but it's
impossible to sample every operator's product. To find suppliers
she can trust, Goldstein and her business partner have attended
Helen Nodland's Adventure & Exotic Travel Educational Seminar.
Nodland "gives a lot of credibility" to her supplier partners,
Goldstein says. Goldstein also makes it a point to check supplier
references when she's had no previous experience with them.
At The Travel Station, Muriel Mozzi has so much confidence in
the products of one supplier -- Lindblad Special Expeditions --
that she displays its brochures and no others. Mozzi began putting
up displays of Lindblad Special Expeditions products and
destinations at about the time she joined the Lindblad Expedition
Club, a cooperative marketing program for agents. (See story, Page
12.) The results were dramatic. In one year her agency's sales of
Lindblad tours shot up from $34,000 to $168,000.
Selecting the right suppliers is essential, she says. Her advice
in this regard? "Talk to other agencies. Look at Conde Nast
Traveler and Travel & Leisure's lists. Look at how long a
company's been in business, what kind of a contribution they're
making to the environment." Mozzi also studies suppliers' tour
programs carefully. "We're very analytical about the way people's
itineraries have been developed -- if they make sense."
In addition to knowing the product well, agents need to know
their clients and talk with them extensively, Mozzi advises. "We
spend a lot of time with clients. When they come back from a trip
we ask them to give us feedback. In adventure travel that's really
important. If you send somebody on something that is too strenuous
for them they'll never come back."
When The Travel Station plans to promote a new adventure trip or
destination Mozzi begins by educating clients and creating
opportunities for client networking. For example, this month [OCT]
the agency is hosting a client luncheon with presentations on
Egypt, Tanzania and walking tours. "If you pick the right operators
and you give clients the opportunity to meet each other and talk
about it, [the clients] really sell it for you," she says.
At Northside Travel, Bea Goldstein and her business partner Mary
Jo Gregory have cultivated business by offering an adventure travel
show in cooperation with a handful of suppliers, including
Butterfield & Robinson, International Expeditions and Holbrook
Travel. The show helped provide visibility for the Cape Cod agency
and generated names for a travel group for which it organizes
"Letting people know what we're doing is the biggest challenge,"
Goldstein says. "Once they know, they're interested."