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Groups business can be lucrative and although sometimes a lot of work, can really pay dividends in the long run-including those groups becoming repeat business every year.
But knowing how to promote and sell groups and how to service them requires training, access to group rates and space-- and ongoing support. This makes it very important to ask all the right questions of your host agency about how they support you in selling groups.
We asked Penny Martin, VP, Agent Experience at The Travel Agent Next Door what services the host agency offers their agents to help them sell groups and grow their groups business.
1. What resources does TTAND provide to support its agents to sell groups?
"We have a dedicated groups coordinator who provides all the necessary resources for our agents to call in with any and all questions related to groups. We also have a great support team that is familiar with booking groups.
"Our ClientLinq system (where you enter your trips for accounting purposes and invoicing) has all kinds of features to assist in creating groups from a group master template that allows the agent to clone or copy the itinerary and information at the click of a button; the ability to include inventory at different price points, particularly effective when selling different cruise categories - and the ability to analyze the group from the group master and create a variety of reports from manifests to productivity
"We provide our agents with costing sheets to assist in keeping their group organized and profitable and we are currently working on webinars and trainings that are specifically geared to agents growing their group business.
"We also work closely with a group of our preferred and approved suppliers to provide unique and creative itinerary options in the FIT niche markets that our agents can book their clients into.
"Wedding specialists can take part in the destination wedding program through Ensemble and a special wedding magazine is also available for direct mail."
2. What does TTAND do that others don't do to grow groups business?
- Agents have the ability to feature their groups on their websites - either providing a public or private view.
- A Destination Wedding Specialist program
3. What types of groups are the most successful?
"I would say that weddings are very popular and successful; faith based travel; family reunions and multi-generational groups. Women-only groups are a new growth area. Some agents also do meeting and incentives groups as well as wellness and yoga."
4. Success stories….can you talk about how group business has grown at TTAND?
"We have seen some great success stories with groups at TTAND. Most of the success stories are because of the attentiveness of the agent to details and follow up with their clients. Agents are successful with their groups because of the dedicated support from our TTAND team. We have storefront agencies that have sold out an entire river cruise ship for an affinity group! There are agents that have their own Meetup Groups that specialize in travel, and these types of spec groups are very lucrative for these agents. We have agents with cruise groups of anywhere from 30 - 150 people on each of their departures. "
"I find that when agents have a passion for a destination or niche, like for example we have some agents who specialize in culinary groups, like plant based/vegan or gluten free, they tend to be so enthusiastic and invested in the group, that they are very successful," said Martin
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