“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Fall is often the time when I prep my travel business for the upcoming year. I sell cruises, and the majority of my sales are in the months of January through March, during what we call the “wave season”. Unfortunately, I don’t predict a wave of sales in the first quarter of 2021 due to the continuing impact of travel restrictions. The cruise industry has been hit particularly hard by restrictions. However, I look forward to organizing my business for 2021 so that I can capitalize on every opportunity.
I see many smart travel consultants who have been able to keep going during these difficult times. These folks are clever, determined, motivated and all seem to have a plan. I’m pretty impressed with them. My experience networking with my travel contacts made me think about other businesses during these hard times. Are you plotting and planning your success in 2021?
At the end of every year, I create and execute a list of things to do to free up time for the first quarter. This list keeps me on track and positions me for success in the coming year.
- I review and map out my marketing plan for the next year. Some of the items that I look at are email marketing, cooperative marketing with other businesses, print and digital ads, contests, social media, business networking and virtual events.
- I usually schedule time every month to build relationships with my supplier partners too and that comes in many forms from phone calls, emails or in-person events.
- I put a rough networking schedule together. I make sure to make a note of annual networking events as well as the events that I do on a regular basis.
- I review the traffic on my website and I look for trends. For example, there was a change in activity after the shut down in March. I schedule blocks of time for the next year to work on custom website content.
- I look at my business plan to determine if I’m on track with my overall plan and decide if it needs to be tweaked.
- The last quarter of a year, is a great time to clean up your bookkeeping in preparation for tax season in the first quarter of the next year.
- I revisit budget and sales numbers. Expenses are part of the budget and I schedule in time to review my contracts, or subscription services, at least once a year.
- Continuing education is something that dedicated travel consultants take very seriously. I devote time every week to educating myself on the travel market or on a specific travel topic or supplier.
The reality is that there will be pent up demand for travel once the restrictions are lifted and I want to be prepared. I am sure that this concept applies to many other businesses like restaurants and small shops.
What are you doing to plan your success for 2021? Please comment below.
Sheryl Van Aken is the founder of the Enterprising Moms and runs a travel agency in Milton, GA, called Van Aken Travel -Dream Vacations. She specializes in cruises of all kinds for individuals and groups. She is a certified event planner through Emory University and the Cruise Line International Association.
Sheryl has 4 great children and is happily married to her husband Mike for over 23 years,