Your First Year of Business and Progressing From There
You can listen directly here.
Starting a business can be both challenging and scary considering all the factors that go with it. There are so many things to consider and being prepared is just the start.
If you are just starting out as a Mobile Travel Agent or you have been on your own for a while, this episode is for you.
In this episode, Ros talks about the things you need to track in your first year of business and things you need to remind yourself on over time. The journey is a wonderful one, though it can be full of ups and downs. Just like starting any business, when you become a work from home agent, you will find there are areas that may scare you, or you didn’t know about. We address some of those in this episode.
Quotes from the Episode
“You have become a travel agent for a reason”
“There are going to be tough times and we are all going through them”
“I am doing this for my family. I want to be at home. Take them to adventures and I want to be able to show my son the world. The possibilities of the things he can see and do”
“You need to think what’s going to work for you”
“Work out what you like to sell and what you want to sell’
“Not everything works for everyone but there is business out there for everyone”
“Your clients will gravitate to you because of you”
“The way you present yourself and if you become an authority on something, people will naturally come back to you”
“Provide value for people”
“Stay focused and know where you’re going”
Subscribe & Review in Apple Podcast!
Get first access to our latest episodes! Make sure you subscribe to the Travel Agent Achievers podcast. Each episode will help increase your knowledge and expertise as a travel agent.
Find us on socials and share with us your favourite episodes. Make sure to tag us! @travelagentachievers
Announcer: Welcome to Travel Agent Achievers! The place to learn how to grow your travel business and have fun with it. Join Roslyn and her guests as they walk you through proven steps to a fulfilling and profitable business.
Roslyn Ranse: Hey everybody, Welcome back to the Travel Agent Achievers Podcast. I am so thrilled that you're back here again, listening to episode number three. I just want to say a huge shout out and thank you to everybody that has given me feedback. Sent me direct messages via email. I'm so glad you have absolutely loved the first few episodes. So I appreciate you and I thank you very much to everybody who has subscribed already and left me a review. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
And those that do know me already, know that I am very grateful for all the support and love and care that you all share. So thank you.
Once again, today's topic is about getting started as a mobile travel agent and what you need to track and also work on in the first year of business.
And then also a few tips for continuing the momentum over the years.
Now, why am I talking about this?
Well, I received over the last few weeks an Instagram direct message from a travel agent here in Australia. She's worked in a storefront for a few years, and she's now working as a mobile travel agent.
Shout out to Stephanie. Hey, congratulations on making the move and I know that you've done it for all the right reasons. I absolutely believe in you and know that you'll be a huge success. And this podcast goes out to everybody that has started a mobile travel business.
I know the challenges that come with it. I've done it myself. That's why I'm here. I'm here to help guide you through as you set out on this new adventure that's for sure.
So if you are starting out or you have been in business for a while, I know you're going to get a lot out of this episode, so let's just jump straight into it.
There are two main areas to focus on when you're just starting out.
One is on yourself and the other one is business.
Now I have split these two up, but they also do into twine.
Let's start with you.
You have obviously become a travel agent for a reason. And what I'd really like you to think about is why you're in business in the first place. Why did you become a travel agent? What's your story? There are going to be tough times and we'll go through them together I do hope, there is always light at the other end of the tunnel. Though, really. Take stock of this. Think about it. Type it up.
Have a screen saver or note on your desk. Have something somewhere. Or remember the story as to why you got into business in the first place. For me, as you may know, I was a corporate traveler. I spent 6-9 months on the road and I just wanted to come home.
For me, my story was that I had a lot of friends and family who asked me about travel. Where they should stay. What they should do. Because they knew that I had traveled all over the world for work. This also gave me a reason, to help explain destinations and talk about a world that I absolutely love to be able to explore.
But I also wanted to come home. And so for me my ‘why’ was I just wanted to get off the road.
I wanted to come home.
I wanted to do something different. But I also wanted to continue to help people.
Now, coming from the sales and marketing and international education background, I was able to talk about the destinations, but I didn't know about the systems in travel, and that was my hard bit in learning this business. So my ‘why’ now, it’s about my family. I've got a photo of my husband, my gorgeous son in front of me as well as my sisters and extended family around me.
I want to be near them. I don't want to be on the road 6 to 9 months the year. I want to be able to provide for them. I want to be able to spend time with them wherever I can.
In saying that, I honestly think that I also have the travel bug gene. Now, if you haven't heard of this specific gene, I don't even know whether it's real or not. It's called DRD4-7R. No, I'm not a scientist, But check out the link to this video that we've got on our website, which is Travel Agent Achievers. EPISODE 3. So this will be the third podcast that you can check out. And that will link to a very cool video. Then share it on your social media pages if you really want to get some great engagement. But it talks about having the travel bug Gene right.
Anyhow, back to why I am doing this for my family. I want to be at home. I want to be able to take them on adventures. And I want to be able to show my son the world and the possibilities of the things that he can see and do. That's my life. So if you need to take the time, reflect on this, write down why, you're actually in business?
Why did you start something for yourself?
Is it to be with your family?
Do you want to spend more time at home with your kids, see them grow up, be able to attend all of those school functions?
Do you want to work remotely and not have a fixed address?
Did you become an agent to do things differently?
Being a travel agent can be tough. You are going to be challenged, but you're in the industry because I'm sure you love it. You love, travel. You love to see incredible things. And you also want to share those experiences with others. Now that's your life.
That's number one.
Number two to think about in your first year of business is that you need to then become known for something or an area and become an authority on it.
Be the go-to person that people are going to be attracted to. You need to be easy to talk to. Clients need
to know you're going to get the job done. You also need to know and understand your client's. Highlight and talk about your experiences.
This may be a new concept for some, because when you're in storefront, you may actually lean on the brand and the company, not necessarily yourself.
So you've always got people walking through the front door, and they're coming to that front door a lot of times because of advertising campaigns or marketing that they've seen online or on TV or in the newspaper. So when you're working for yourself, YOU become the brand. You are going to be the person that people are going to naturally come to.
But if you don't get out and talk to people. You don't do any marketing, then they're not going to know to come to you.
So when you're in a storefront, people will come to the brand in the majority of cases. Now a lot of agents do tend to build their own business within a business. However, when you become a mobile agent, you don't have people coming through the front door. So you do need to ensure that you are talking about yourself and your own experiences, and you need to get that out of there.
This is going to get jumbled up quite a bit with marketing, and it's something that I love to talk about. I am always learning. Sales and marketing is my background. So this is something that I absolutely love, and I'm always thinking of new ideas.
I want to be ahead of the competition in everything, but you cannot do everything, so I want you to think about how you portray yourself on social media. How do you describe yourself on company websites? How up to date is information about you and your experiences and travel experiences also on social media platforms as well?
A quick tip. If you don't have a website, or even if you do, I want you to check out about.me
Check out the link to this in the show notes.
It's where you can get a free one-page website. You add a photo.
You add a short description.
Google absolutely loves these, but you really should have one as an extra layer of marketing.
It's very simple. It's free. You just need a photo. So one of the latest photos; make sure it's good. It's clear, you're smiling and your face is in it, not very far away from the camera. You don't need your sunnies on, but make it somewhat professional and then you have it.
This is an extra layer of marketing. We are going to discuss marketing in greater detail over time.
Don't fret what platforms you need to be working on right now.
What marketing strategies are working right now, we have a structure and you’ll be able to set yourself up for success without the overwhelm of all of this sort of stuff.
When it comes to social media marketing sales, we will talk about that, but for right now, I'd really like you to set up an about.me page. Also update your Facebook business page, Instagram, Linkedin.
If you have any of these, keep them up to date.
Make sure you've got how people can contact you.
We’ve been recently talking about your experiences promote things that you absolutely love to become known in a certain area.
If you're traveling to Bali all the time, why not talk about Bali?
Why not talk about the different areas that you can stay in? The different activities that you can do? The islands that are off Bali, The different adventures, whether it's diving, laying around, you know, bungee jumping or watching the sunset. You can talk about these things all day long.
People will become more attracted to you because you are then seen as the expert in that area.
Now that's just one thing. So we'll talk about niche or niche :-) Depending on where you are in the world, we will talk more about that in further detail.
So right now, just make sure everything's up to date. Make sure that you're putting your best foot forward.
You are presenting yourself as best you possibly can, and you are actually talking about things that people are going to be attracted to.
If you're posting personal things. What? Your morning routine was what I had for breakfast. Think what your clients are going to think… Is this what they would like? Is this what they relate to?
Is this what they then think is going to be the next dream destination or the next dream holiday? Sure, they may be your friends. I totally get that.
But sometimes we need to put business and personal life separate and cater to the dreams and the aspirations of our clients.
So just keep that in mind when you are posting on social media and also on other things like your website.
Number 3 - Working from home can be lonely.
Oh, my gosh, I totally get this. When I first started out over 10 years ago as a mobile travel agent, sometimes I would go out every single day. I would find a distraction. I would drive 30 minutes to an hour to a coffee shop or to a place where there are other people. Just so that I could be around the people because I was lonely.
I didn't like being in the house all day. I didn't want to go and do my washing and the cleaning of the house and get distracted that way. Now, I do now, but I'm saying it can be really lonely.
For me, I personally don't need to sit next to somebody and talk all day to them.
But being around people really helps me to focus. It's the energy. So my morning routine is I going to get a coffee from a local favorite cafe. And if I feel I need a little bit of extra energy that day, or in need to be around people, I'll actually stay there and work for an hour or so. And then I come home, turn on the music in another room, and I can work away in my office.
Now my husband is home, as he can often work from home. He knows not to interrupt me. Work is work, and I focus on where I can when my son's in daycare. So I love to be able to have that morning with him and not actually switch on for my clients and my business until nine o'clock. I do pick him up at five o'clock in the afternoon, sometimes a little bit earlier, so I want to make sure that I can maximize my focus and the work that needs to get done during those times. But I also don't want to be lonely.
So if you need music in another room, if you need to go and work in a coffee shop, I really encourage
you to do this because when you do work from home, it can be quiet, can be a little bit lonely, so encouraging you to go and find a balance. Ask yourself some questions. Maybe when you're starting out, because these are things that you're going to come across and you may not have thought about them.
Do you need a co-working space to be around others?
Are you ok to work by yourself all day, every day?
Can you meet up with other mobile agents, join a networking group, share space with somebody else?
Do you need to work from a cafe an hour or a couple of hours each day just to get the energy of the people moving around you?
You know, that's always a great thing as well. If you've got your logo or something on your computer and you're working in a cafe regularly you'll probably find that people will come and gravitate to you. If you don't have your head down all the time, they may come and talk to you and say, Oh, hey, you know, I've seen you here a few times. What do you do? You'll get to know people on.
This is another great way of when you're first starting out and just doing some networking. So if you are working in a cafe and I have seen agents do this very successfully going working in a particular cafe each day they will see clients that they used to have before or they will make people. And this is where business comes from.
I encourage you to find something that works for you.
Please don't just isolate yourself as it can get lonely. And this isn't conducive to building a business. So those are the things for you.
Find out why you are in business - remember this.
I encourage you to meet people. Get out there. Working from home can be lonely and also think of what makes you unique.
Become an authority on something or somewhere. People will gravitate to this.
Now we're moving on to the fun stuff, the business side of things. There is so much to do in that first year of business, whether you have already known suppliers before or whether you're like me.
I became a mobile agent straight up, not coming from a shop front, and I needed to meet suppliers. So I encourage you to meet people, get to know them, ask for their advice and attend training nights, breakfasts, lunches, whatever you can.
Tourism authorities often have a whole lot of events on this as well, so make sure you sign up for these, get to what you can if you're in a city that does this.
If not, then make sure you join online training, become the expert on something and speak to these suppliers because they will tell you what's working now. What sells.
Work out what you like to sell and what you want to sell.
If you hate being on a cruise ship and the rocking on the cruise… ask yourself, is cruising the right thing for you? realistically? like it may be a popular thing, but you need to think what's going to work for you.
Do you love being able to explore a city in depth by walking tours or going on an adventure holiday?
Those sorts of things, are maybe something that you could become known for.
So work out what you like to sell and what you want to sell.
You may initially have to be everything to everyone to start out with. But over time you should definitely narrow this down and you'll become known for a particular area.
As I said, we'll be talking about niche-ing in a future podcast episode.
But for right now, think about something that you love and you could talk about all day. Is it a country? Is it a city? Is it a particular type of holiday? Whether it's cruising, coach touring, guided holidays, cycling, walking, dancing, you name it. There is something out there for everyone. Is it a particular market that you like to talk to?
Finding something that works for you and also your clients is where you need to be.
Check out your supplier or host agency networking events, get out there, not only talk to suppliers but also bounce some ideas off other consultants that you work closely with.
If they aren’t too competitive. This is a really good idea, however, It's also good if they are competitive because you want to build your business. See what's working.
What are other people doing? What's selling at the moment?
A collaborative approach is much better than doing things on your own.
This can also give you motivation when you see what is working for others, as it may also for you.
Now, remember that I also say that not everything works for everyone. But I will say that there is business and there is business out there for everyone, so you don't need to be competitive in a bad way.
Know and trust that your clients will gravitate to you because of you.
That's why they get to book the holidays with you. Now on this note and a bit of a business tip, when you do meet people, make sure you follow up with them.
I have heard this time and time again over the years that going to an expo or a networking event that when suppliers have asked me to attend, the reason why they do is because they know I follow up.
I will speak to every person afterwards, I will email them. I will keep in contact with them, whether that's through a newsletter or a different form of communication.
But I am following up. That I can tell you time and time again becomes natural for people to come to you. They say. ‘Oh, yeah, that's right. I received something from you, Ros, or we met a few years ago.’ “ I'm coming back to you because of the time I met you at so and so.”
So it may not turn around initially as a booking, but the more you keep in contact and you follow up with people - not in a stalkerish way, but the way you present yourself and you become an authority on something, people will naturally come back to you.
So make sure you take names, email addresses for your database, business cards from events and follow up with them.
You don't want these to be a lost lead or a lost sale.
In your first year of business, there are additional things that you need to focus on within your business.
These are New clients! And we've just spoken about the networking and building relationships.
You do need to have a presence on social media, but I would encourage you to provide value for people, not necessarily all specials. There's an 80/20 rule that will talk about later as well, however, provide value to people who are coming to you for your experience.
The other big thing to look at is your numbers.
This is something that a lot of people don't do because they don't know how to.
When you've worked in a storefront, you're often given the guidance of what you need to sell per month or how much commission needs to bring in.
Or what are your forward bookings to know the style of business that you need to be chasing now? The Quick wins that you may need to get or the long term business that you need to project over the coming months.
So you really need to think about what bookings are coming in.
PLUS what money is going out and be realistic with the numbers? I can say wholeheartedly in your first year, you may not sell $1,000,000 worth of travel. This will take time, even if you come with a very big client list to start with. But please … everything in moderation.
You need to be realistic.
You don't want to work 80 or 90 hours a week.
You need to make sure you are looking at what bookings are coming in.
What commissions are coming in and what money is going out?
Obviously, you can't go and sit in a cafe every day and spend $50 or $60 on food and coffee and drinks and those sorts of things.
If you're only selling at $2000 holiday, that makes you $20, right?
So be realistic when setting up and looking at your numbers. We've got some great spreadsheets that are really easy to follow.
So if you are interested in any of these please, reach out and we'll go get them to you.
This is just so you can track what bookings are coming in and what money is going out.
Be realistic with these numbers.
You also need to learn the business side of things.
My first rule of starting a business is really…
- Set some goals.
- Why you're in business and what you want to achieve.
So when you set goals, be realistic.
If it is to sell $500,000 worth travel in your 1st 12 months. Awesome. That's a goal. Then we work together to break that down, and this is something that I've done for years.
I love being able to have a goal that I can challenge myself to, but also to be realistic and know that I'm not tripling my income each year or anything like that. It is purely about focus and knowing where I'm going. So setting goals.
Then over time, you need to check and measure everything.
What's working? What's not working?
If, for instance, coming back to the cruising example, you are selling cruising, but nobody's biting. Nobody is interested in booking a cruise with you.
There may be a reason for this. It may be that your audience isn't interested in cruising. They might be interested in cycling holidays.
You don't know, but you need to track what works and what doesn't work.
An easy way to do this is to get to know your suppliers. As I've said before, meeting your suppliers, ask them. They will tell you what's selling, what's not selling.
If they say to you... right now, the northern lights are really hot and everybody wants to go there. That's when you get more information. You asked questions about it, and you can then say Awesome. Let me see if I can run a campaign to jump on this bandwagon.
If it doesn't work, at least you've tried. At least you've learned, you became an expert on something.
But you know that your audience at this time may not be interested in that, and that's OK.
It's about testing, measuring and tracking.
So those are a few things that I really wanted to talk about today.
You. New clients, your numbers and your business.
Getting to know your WHY, looking after yourself, Seeing the numbers and learning the business side of things.
These are things that I absolutely love and working with businesses to help them grow is something that I'm really passionate about because I believe that travel agents can do well in business.
I've been a prime example of this myself.
I've got a number of colleagues and friends around me that have done this too, and I just really believe that if you're listening to this podcast, you want to make a difference not only in other people's lives but also in your own and in your business.
So if you've got any questions, please reach out.
Don't hesitate to contact us.
Check out Travel Agent Achievers For more information. Check out the show notes on this page.
Make sure you subscribe to this podcast.
Please leave me a review.
If you've got any questions, I'm here.
Also - on the website we’ve got checklists.
We've got worksheets.
Reach out with a direct message if you want.
And we also have a guide, which is five ways to build rapport in your business.
So five quick ways that you can build rapport to help you build your business.
And if you'd like a copy of this, please check out the show notes and getting contact will send it to you right away.
Thank you so much again, everybody, for listening in to this.
I am absolutely loving the feedback.
I really look forward to talking to you in the next few episodes.
We've got some great ones coming up. Episodes on money, on customer service, how to build referrals, repeat business, talking about your niche and so much more. I am so excited.
There is so much to talk about and I hope that you're going to be continuing to enjoy this wonderful journey with us.
Thank you so much for listening and I'll talk to you soon. Have a great week ahead!
Announcer: Welcome to Travel Agent Achievers! The place to learn how to grow your travel business and have fun with it. Join Roslyn and her guests as they walk you through proven steps to a fulfilling and profitable business.
LOOKING FOR MORE HELP SPECIFIC TO YOUR OWN TRAVEL BUSINESS? WORK DIRECTLY WITH ROS. BOOK A ONE-ON-ONE STRATEGY SESSION.
This is a short call to connect and see what you need right now. Get Unstuck, be heard, get some advice or suggestions - specifically for you and your business.
Jump on in and book your individual strategy coaching sessions with Roslyn.