Making the Phones Ring

Take advantage of the slowdown to work on marketing and promotion projects

By: John Hawks, ARTA President

Though some ARTA members have reported slower-than-usual volumes in the first quarter of 2003, other agents have told us that they’re hitting the ground running with more aggressive promotions and marketing projects in their cities to drum up demand and get their phones ringing. Here are a few ideas:

Sheila Hyman, of Tanforan Travel, San Bruno, Calif., sent a letter to her entire mailing list to remind them about trips near home, including Yosemite, Carmel, Napa Valley, Reno, Las Vegas, SFO/LAX/SAN cruises, California’s theme parks and the Pacific Northwest.

She says the letter not only reminds her clients about quick trips they can take closer to home, but it reinforces the fact that she’s there to help them with travel plans. One client booked a $12,000 FIT trip to Australia with her as a result of the letter not exactly close to home, but I guess it stimulated thoughts of travel in general.

Another owner in the Southeast says he’s taken this slower time of year to comb through his sales database to find his agency’s strengths. He was surprised that more than a third of his business is single parents traveling with their kids a niche that he did not know he had!

Now, he’s changed his Web site to focus on this niche, with tipsheets for family-friendly destinations. Since unveiling (and heavily promoting) his new Web focus, he’s closed 37 more family vacation sales than he had last year at this time.

An owner in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area reports that he has changed consortiums to get better commission rates on his best-selling products. Also, he’s taken his outside sales agents and broken out the top performers so that he can focus his time on working with them this spring.

Other ideas that have been passed along to us: Take a quick fam trip to a fabulous destination and, while you’re there, send back postcards to your top 100 clients. Set up a travel book club with your local bookstore. Or, start a vacation club for travelers to send you regular deposits toward their dream trips.

The point? Don’t wait for the phones to ring on their own. Take these tips from fellow ARTA agents or come up with your own local promotions to generate demand in your city.