A lot of travel agents believe that the answer to increasing their earnings is to generate more leads and sell more packages. While that is true, that also means more work, and if you are already busy, then taking on more business just will come at a cost to your quality of life. If you find yourself being very busy, but would like to increase your earnings, the best way to do that is to figure out how you can make more commissions on each sale. Being successful is not just about working hard, it's also about working smart. Here are 10 things you can do earn more commissions on your bookings.
1. Establish your own preferred vendors.
When you join a host agency, they provide you with access to different tour operators and vendor partners for you to start selling travel products and services through. While this is good for you when you are just starting out, over time, you will want to start establishing your own relationships with your favourite vendors. Start featuring a handful of suppliers in your daily marketing, share their news, updates and promotions with your client base.
2. Do at least 70% of your sales with your preferred vendors.
You can make a half a million dollars a year in commissions by selling only one or two hotels. Some agents believe they need to sell everything to be successful. The absolute opposite is true. When you pick one or two products to feature exclusively, you become the expert that clients will come to whenever they need to buy that product. When that starts to happen, you now put yourself in a position where you have large sales volumes with one or two vendors, and you can now use this as leverage to negotiate higher than average commissions.
3. Go to the vendors direct.
Think about this. Hotels or any other product vendors provide access to their rates to consortiums or tour operators through a GDS software for a fee. This is after giving up a large chunk of the commission to the consortium to have their product listed. The consortia then provides access to your agency, who in turn provided access to you the agent. Consortiums bring great value for new travel agents as they provide the leverage you do not have. Consortiums also make it easy and efficient to search and compare prices across multiple vendors and tour operators. However, it is not the only way to get pricing. Go to the vendors directly if you want to make more. The fewer people they have to pay to get the rates to you, the more they can pay you. When a client makes an inquiry, pick up the phone and call the hotels or airline directly.
4. Sell high-end products.
It is a very simple equation. Fifteen per cent of $5,000, is greater than 15 per cent of $2,500. There are seven-night vacation packages that cost $2,500 on average, and there are vacation packages that start at $5,000. You can choose to focus anywhere you want. Why not sell the most expensive products and make more money? Focus your sales and branding efforts around building a high-end clientele that exclusively books luxury products. These clients not only generate more revenue for you, but they need and value the services of a travel agent more, as they are mostly busy entrepreneurs and business professionals.
5. Focus on groups.
You won't get as many groups as individual bookings, but when you do, putting together a vacation package for a large group can be pretty sweet on the commission side. The same amount of work you do to put together a package for two people, you can do the same thing for 50 people travelling together. Yes, once the deal is secured then the logistics may be tedious (If you do not have the right tools), but the commission cheque that's attached will make it worth your while.
6. Avoid discount suppliers.
When you focus on discount packages, two things will happen that will be very bad for your business. 1. You will make a low percentage commission due to the low margins and low price. 2. You will end up wasting a lot of time working with clients who are price shopping, and they will have you do research for two weeks before you lose them for $50. Discount anything is bad for your business.
7. Host your own tours.
You send hundreds of clients on tours hosted by others; why not host your own? Putting together your own hosted tours allows you to set your own commission. When you create a unique experience that clients can't find anywhere else, you can set your price. It is riskier than reselling other people's products, but if you are willing to take the risk, then you can reap very sizeable rewards.
8. Be worth a service fee.
My personal belief is that no travel agent is entitled to a service fee, but instead must be deserving of it. You cannot charge a client service fee for putting together some generic experience that they could book with someone else for no cost. For you to be worth the service fee, you need to create value extra value. What are you providing to your clients that they cannot get with anyone else? How are you working to make every client experience the best they have ever had? When you have a good answer for these questions, you have proven your value and your clients will recognize that as well.
9. Buy and hold inventory.
Three words: "supply and demand." When that big event is coming to a destination, or it's just peak season and the resort is going to sell out for sure, be brave enough to grab a handful of inventory, and wait. Soon enough there will be no rooms anywhere else and people looking will have to come to you. What does this mean for you? It means that your prices are the only price available and people will pay whatever you charge. Enter the great world of double dipping. You get paid a commission by the hotel when you sell the inventory, and then when you resell, you get to add your own mark-up. It takes a lot of guts to be willing to do this and a lot of marketing to pull it off, but if you can, your commission potential is endless.
10. Ask suppliers for more commission.
No one is going to volunteer you more money unless you are really, really good, and they just want your business that bad. Otherwise, you have to ask for what you want. Know your value and stand up for it. You would be surprised at how far just having great posture can get you. Tell your vendors and suppliers how much commission you would like to get paid on each sale. Be reasonable in your request. It also helps to have established a relationship.