Agents who have seen success selling groups with Classic Vacations have a few things in common, according to Melissa Krueger, senior director and general manager of groups, whether it's knowing a few products very well or taking advantage of tools and programs to become more efficient in their workflows.
I recently caught up with Krueger to talk about group selling best practices.
Her first bit of advice was to consider your clients as potential work peers.
According to Krueger, about 70% of Classic Vacations' group business comes from destination weddings.
"A big number of the independent contractors (ICs) that are in that space booked their own destination weddings with an adviser, and they said, 'This is really interesting, and I watched what you did and that seems fun. I want to do that,'" Krueger said.
They go on to become ICs for the agent that booked their wedding and use that agent as a mentor.
"Think of all your customers as potential independent contractors for you," she said.
Krueger also advised agents to know who their customers are and develop expertise in just a few products.
The best agents she works with, she said, have a few products that they get to know very well. "They become an expert."
Lynne Chomicz, director of new business development at Classic Vacations, agreed.
"The biggest thing is just finding a handful of select partners that they really are loyal to, because then they've got the relationships, they've got the contacts, they've got the knowledge of how things work at that property or within that brand," Chomicz said. "I think the advisers that do really well are very loyal to a specific brand or destination."
Successful agents also take advantage of educational opportunities related to those products. Classic has its own educational opportunities, Krueger said, including its Elite Education Experience conference. Successful agents also dig into training and specialist programs from individual brands.
Good social media presence is important, too, she said, as is taking advantage of tools that companies offer that help free up time for other pursuits.
For example, Krueger pointed to Classic's custom group websites, introduced last month. Agents can create and customize private group websites on which guests can create and manage their booking and payment details. The sites include access to live inventory.
"What used to take you eight hours, can now take you six hours," Krueger said.
Krueger advised agents who want to get started in the groups space to get in touch with someone like herself and her team and talk about their business model.
"Once you tell us about your business model," she said, "then I can say, 'OK, here's what I have to support your business model. Here's the product I have, here are the marketing tools I have and here's what I can do for you in the way of education.'"