Financially speaking, what's better than arranging a trip for a couple? Arranging a trip for 20 couples.
It's no doubt that selling travel to groups can be a lucrative area of focus for agents. But newer agents are probably wondering how they can find group business, and some group veterans might want to up their group game and add some more to their roster.
I talked to industry educator Stuart Cohen about both topics in advance of his new, free, online event, the Group Sales Success Summit. Cohen's summit will feature daily videos from more than 30 well-known industry speakers on the subject of getting more groups and making more money. More than 1,600 agents are already signed up for the event, which takes place Aug. 1-7. Content will be accessible online on demand.
He offered some tips for new and veteran agents.
New agents looking to source group business should avoid what many do: sending a long email to a group or a company offering to do a group trip, Cohen said.
"That almost always results in no response," he said. "It just gets deleted, or if you're lucky, they'll just reply back, 'Not interested.'"
Instead, Cohen advised agents to start pounding the pavement. Ask a local business for a 15-minute meeting to find out more about their business and how they achieved success.
"Whatever it is, just get in the door on a fact-finding mission, and hopefully, hopefully, they'll reveal a problem," he said.
If they do, there's a possibility that problem could be an open door for an agent to return with a proposal for a group trip. For instance, he said, the business might want to do something special to reward their best clients — a perfect fit for a loyalty group trip.
Before sending out an email or picking up the phone to get an initial 15-minute meeting, Cohen said, agents should update their website and social media presences to make it clear they handle group travel and to ensure that they are brand consistent.
Agents who already sell some groups often have something in common, Cohen said: good time management skills.
Many who have joined the summit's Facebook group have said it's difficult to keep up with the business they have, and they wonder how they can take on more.
"The short answer is that as the group grows, the bigger the group is should not drive the level of work required," Cohen said. "They can't be in parallel or else there's no way an agent can keep up. The beauty of doing group travel is that it inherently has to be done more efficiently than individuals."
To accomplish that, agents have to get out of the mentality of selling groups to each individual interested in the trip. He advised selling to the group as a bigger audience.
For example, during the selling process, he advised meeting with the entire interested group either in person or online at the same time, doing a series of presentations. He also advised recording the presentations.
"Instead of talking to a couple, you're talking to 20 couples at the same time, and you're going to tape it so that if somebody misses it, 'No problem, here's the link,'" Cohen said.
During the service process, before the group travels, he said agents should create a dedicated Facebook group for that group. As questions start rolling in, post the answers on the Facebook page.
"The travel agent will literally train people — the customers — to go to Facebook to get the answers and to ask other questions," he said.