Creating a System Behind Successful Group Travel Experiences with Roslyn Ranse
You can listen directly here.
Adding groups to your travel business can be a great addition, and in this episode, I share my experience and how you can adapt it to your own travel business. I have been thinking about this for a while because in my travel business, we specialise in large international groups where we organise and do the event side of things as well. With so many moving parts, it can be challenging to get everything organised, and that's why I want to share with you my system behind each of their successes.
In this episode, I discuss the benefits of adding groups to your travel business, so that you can find it easier to curate and promote to many clients.
Sharing why long term relationships that are mutually beneficial and bringing your clients together for what I call 'stickiness', can create even more repeat and referral business for your future.
Understanding your sales and marketing pipeline is crucial, and you can do this many years in advance.
I also share my five stages of a "Groups" Booking cycle and how the system we have created now has helped many advisors curate and execute amazing experiences in their travel business.
Want the FREE resource to help you understand the 5 stages and things you could be adding to your system?
Grab the FREE resource HERE.
Looking to really make your Travel Business work for you? Grow in a way that you have always dreamed? Check out "The Achievers" Mastermind https://www.travelagentachievers.com/theachievers
Quotes from this Episode
07:17-07:32 - “I think in travel, it's all about relationships. And I know for me personally, the people that I work with, I love being able to go back to them time and time again because it's a mutually beneficial relationship.” - Roslyn Ranse
09:19-08:32 - “And everything that I do in my business is about the team experience, I don't want it just to be me, I don't want it just to be one of my staff members. I want it to be a relationship and a team that we all work on something together.” - Roslyn Ranse
14:12 - 14:29 - “I think what brings me joy, what do I love doing? Because I know that what we do in our travel business, it may not be what everybody else does. And I'm okay with that. But I do what brings me joy, and I work with the people that I love working with.” -Roslyn Ranse
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT IF YOU PREFER - BELOW
"Creating a System Behind Successful Group Travel Experiences".
Roslyn Ranse: Well, hey there Travel Agent Achievers, it’s Ros here, host of the podcast. Welcome back to another episode. It's the end of March, we're about to kick into April.
And today I wanted to talk to you about groups. I know a lot of travel advisors all over the world have been thinking about or currently have groups as part of their mix when it comes to sales and what they do in their travel business. And the reason why I wanted to discuss this today is because there are so many moving parts, and the conversation that I had with my husband the other day, because in our travel business, we specialize in large international groups, we we not only just organize the group, but we also do the event side of things as well. And I was having the conversation with my husband, and he said to me rolls, you know what, I just need you to understand that not everybody does things like you do. And not everybody knows how to put together these experiences, and then deliver them. So I wanted to share with you my experience when it comes to group travel, but also the system behind it. Because what I'm hearing a lot at the moment in the travel industry, and this is I'm not immune to it either. I was just talking about this, I'm not immune to what is going on, because we're experiencing the same things in our own travel business. But things are busy. Everybody is wanting to explore this incredible planet that we live on again, which is awesome. And I love that. But at the same time, I'm also hearing how we're so busy in the doing and taking action in the business, that there may not be the time that everyone is feeling as though they they don't have in order to work on your business, or even look at how to make things easier. So I want to share my systems, I want to share how I do things to make your life easier, or even just to give you some insight into what you could do differently, or how things work in somebody else's business that you could adapt or relate in certain ways into your own.
Now, it's not for everybody. And I know that there are a number of listeners and people out there that are quite comfortable in how they're working in their own travel business. And that is awesome. But if you are one of those advisors that want to hit a million dollars, want to hit $2 million, want to hit $3 million, whatever the number is for you, then there are some changes, or there are some things that you might need to do in your travel business that will help you scale. And that will help you actually understand where there are weaknesses in your business.
So today, we're talking about groups. And another reason why we're doing this is because inside our Achievers program. so that's our mastermind, where we have a small group or a community of travel advisors from all over the world come together. And in April, we are talking all about groups and marketing. So I wanted to give you the systems information today on how you can actually plan and to prepare for groups. But then, if you want to join us inside the achievers, then please do so because the whole month we're going to be talking about groups, putting them together and actually promoting them. So selling those groups, filling those groups to make sure that they are a huge success for you both from an organizational point of view, but also from a financial point of view, as well.
So to start off with why a group's even a great addition to your travel business? if you have a business that you're doing point to point travel or you're specializing in a destination or you're specializing in a certain group of clientele, then adding groups can be a great addition to your travel business because of all of these different things.
First of all, you have potentially just one price, you are able to have a destination or an experience that you are curating for somebody. But once you put in the hard work of the organization and the preparation, you've got that package, or you've got the one price that you can then promote too many.
Now if you you're also promoting things to your clients, so let's talk about one person. So you might have one client that you specifically love working with and they have a group of friends. groups come in many different shapes and forms. So you might have a group of friends that they all want to join in together and travel together. Or you might have a selection of clients that all want to partake in a particular experience. So groups can be great to understand a clientele but also from a financial point of view, you know what's coming down the pipeline in your sales and commission. So for any business, I think now that we've come through this pandemic, and understanding more about finance and numbers, knowing your numbers, I think that having groups as part of your travel business is great, because you can project forward in your sales, you might be thinking right now, so it is the end of March, early April. And you're thinking, Well, I really want to run a group, but I want to do it in September this year, is that too soon? Maybe, maybe not. You might have the clientele, you might already have the experience in mind, whatever it might be. But you if you're able to put together that group and promote and have people join that in September this year, you know that there is potentially those sales that are going to happen, and then the commission that follows from that.
So understanding your sales and marketing pipeline is really important. And you can do this many years in advance. So if you're thinking now, okay, I really want to be putting together some groups for 2024. Or you're seeing some great specials come out. And I know right at the moment, there's some cruise lines that are opening their 2025 experiences already, you might be looking at creating a group to go on a specific cruise in 2025. You know what, right now, if you were to block that in secure some cabins, you can start the marketing of that, which is what we're talking about in April, but you are looking at your sales pipeline, and saying, Okay, if I do the work now, I will be able to get paid later on. Now, that is a very long time 2025 To be waiting and thinking about it. But the more that you have in your pipeline, and working towards different things, this is where your monthly sales can skyrocket, your commission in the future can also then be predictable. But also, you know what's coming up and what you need to be working on.
With groups, you can also work directly with suppliers, you can create relationships have exclusivity on certain things. And this is one of the areas that I really love. I think in travel, it's all about relationships. And I know for me personally, the people that I work with, I love being able to go back to them time and time again, because it's a mutually beneficial relationship. It's not just me saying, Hey, here's what I want, and give me what I need. No, this is about making sure that my suppliers and wholesalers and other companies that I work with, are also benefiting from the experience that we are curating for our clients.
I like having those relationships and getting to understand people. Because for me, that's where the magic happens. And where I see magic, if something goes wrong, if there is something that just you think of at the last minute, sometimes these relationships can actually help you. And that's the same for them. If something goes wrong on their end, you know that you can work together as a team. And everything that I do in my business is about the team experience, I don't want it just to be me, I don't want it just to be one of my staff members. I want it to be a relationship and a team that we all work on something together.
Now another great reason is that you can bring your clients together for what I call stickiness. We're all able to come together and it builds that long term relationship with the clients. So it's not just a supplier. It's also about that client relationship again. And we talk about this all the time. I know I've done numerous podcast episodes on it as well, but creating those relationships that clients want to come back and book with you again and again. And again. It's that repeat business, it's the referral business that you are then known for.
And I bring this up because I received a beautiful email yesterday from one of our achievers members who has recently bought a group back and she received the most beautiful testimonial from one of her clients who had, you know, just gushed about how thankful they were and how through her group's process and the system that she created. It was very personal. She sent videos to them. She had kept them updated with what was going on. She built excitement around the group. And this relationship that she has curated with these clients will also bring them back time and time and again, maybe not necessarily for the same group experience again, but it could be that they want to do another experience. They want to travel somewhere else but they're going to come back to her because of who she is because of the experience that they had with her. And it starts growing that client database. So groups are great for that. Because when you surprise and delight your clients, they will continue to come back to you.
And you can start booking and organizing things years in advance, like I said earlier. So when I talk about 2025, we're already in March and April of 2023, this isn't so far away. And I love that we can look that far ahead, that we can predict potentially, what we want to do, you know, where do you want to go? And I asked this to a lot of the people that I work with, where do you personally want to go? What is something or an experience or a destination that has always intrigued you that you could create an experience around.
And I know, there was another member that I was speaking to a while back, who organized throughout the pandemic, a trip to Morocco, with a whole bunch of clients. Now I know, she's just experienced that she's been away, they've had an amazing time. And that sort of experience was planned in advance. She's reaping the benefits from it now and riding on that high to continue to book the next things. So it also allows you just that bit of certainty to know what's next, what's next in my booking lifecycle. What's next, when I'm, I've pulled out my calendar, and I'm planning a year in advance, where am I groups going? What do they want to do? How can I make something a little bit more different for them?
So what does a group even look like? For me, I, I break it down into a few different things. And I say, well, a group to me is anything that's over 10 people, that could be multi generational trips, it could be family, friends that want to travel together, you might be working with a corporate client and putting together meetings for them, or organizing a conference or a special event. You might also have clients that have incentives as part of their business. And those incentives are then able to be curated into experiences. And we call this in the travel game, it's mice business, so meetings, incentives, conferences, and events. And you can be part of, you know, an experience in putting all of this together. But for me, the basic thing is that it's anything over 10 people, you might be looking at just a group of 10 or 15 people to all travel to an event together.
I have clients that, you know, within our achievers mastermind that love taking knitting groups away, or that love you know, their craft or their creative things that they get involved with outside of work, and they want to travel with like minded people. So I think about it is things that are fun, that they could be activities inspired. As I said, it could just be a bunch of friends that all want to go snowboarding or skiing together. And this is how I actually started. I personally love the snow and going snowboarding with friends and family. These days. I much preferred you know, a little bit more prey than out on the slopes. I think my fear factor has increased Yeah, definitely. Those black runs, I don't do any more. It's more about the greens and having a bit of fun on the blue runs wherever I possibly can. But it started for me organizing groups for specific ski vacations. I loved being able to travel with friends and spending a week or 10 days away in a destination where we could just have so much fun together and experience skiing and snowboarding and a different destination. And we did that all over the world together.
And from that my group's experience increased. We've then had, you know, over 300 people travel with us on a different corporate clients event. We continue to do this, we're already working into 2024 we're already looking at 2025. And I look at this and I think what brings me joy, what do I love doing? Because I know that what we do in our travel business, it may not be what everybody else does. And I'm okay with that. But I do what brings me joy, and I work with the people that I love working with because I don't have time for people to suck the energy out of me and demand more than I can possibly give. There are priorities in my life. I love business. I love working. I love travel, but I also love my family. I also love my friends and spending time with them wherever I possibly can. And I love to travel. So a group could look like anything bringing together a group of people to experience something I think now as I get older as well, we're starting to see a lot of like 40 Birthdays, 50 Birthdays, 60 birthday. So we're calling this the big O. And I see a lot of people that want to also travel and experience things together for those, you know, big moments in life.
We have clients that, you know, love honeymooning now with their friends, destination weddings are amazing. Me personally, I got married in Fiji. And I loved being able to curate the group for us to all travel together. And yes, I organized my own destination wedding. But I loved that you might have specialties in different areas. And I encourage you just to explore that because what a group looks like, and why even have them in your business is totally up to you in what you want out of your travel business.
So I want to run through just some of the stages for group travel business. Because in everything that we do, I love being having love having like a system or a process behind what we do, it makes life easier for us, it makes things more streamlined, it means we don't miss anything. And we have a whole timeline as to how we can do this as well. Now, if you'd like our timeline, or you'd like to know what these six stages are, or sorry, the five stages are, then please just check the show notes out, we will have the download, download links there for you. It's a free resource so that you can find out what the five stages to successful groups actually is. And then see what you can do to implement it into your own business as well.
So there are many things in addition to this. And I just want to preface that because when you are looking at group business, just like any travel business, you need to make sure that you've got certain things in place to promote, execute and deliver. I encourage everybody to make sure that you've got legal documentation, legal advice to make sure that you are doing the right thing that you are representing the right people, and you have yourself covered, making sure that your clients also co signed terms and conditions that you have all of these in place. Because even though it sounds fun, we all know in travel, that things can go wrong. And the best part for you is to make sure that you are covered. But you are also able to find solutions wherever possible.
The other thing is that yes, it's fun, but the legalities, the terms and conditions need to be done. And also to check your numbers, numbers is a really big thing, because I see a lot of people who put together groups, and they don't actually make any money. That's not going to put a roof over your head, that's not going to put food on your table. So you need to make sure that you have a very solid plan, as you are coming up with this. And when you are promoting the experience that your costs are covered. But also, if you're escorting the group as well, that not only do you have the legalities in place there but you also make sure that your travel is covered. Unless of course you want to pay for yourself as well when you go.
So the stages of group Travel Bookings. The first thing is to look at your idea. And this might take some time it might be over a period of time that you're thinking about this, you might want to brainstorm some ideas, research with your clients speak to different suppliers because I can guarantee they have the ideas as well. And think about who you want to partner with. When you're coming up with the ideas. This is where I love to speak to some of our suppliers and wholesalers because they're speaking to so many different people, they see what might be happening in a different destination. They see forward projecting, you know where and experiences starting to pick up or they're receiving more inquiries for something. So if you've got favorite suppliers or relationships that you know, are, you know, at that stage, then I'd suggest you ask and come up with a plan.
So the second stage is planning. This is where I say it's probably the biggest stage because there are so many things to do. But in saying that, if you put the work in, you come up with the plan, you will be able to succeed at this because you can always come back to your plan. And the planning here is about your negotiation with your suppliers, your wholesalers, the people on the ground. Having your negotiation and everything in writing, understanding what it is you will specifically deliver is the first step or second step in My plan right? So the idea and coming up with everything first, is that the main one, but then your plan is having a look at everything. Have a look at the date, the time, the weather, are you looking at a certain amount of cabins if you're cruising? Are you looking at about a certain amount of hotel rooms? Who are the people that you want to bring on this experience with you? Are they going to be looking at high end, you know, balconies? Or are they looking at club floor? Are they looking at sweet experiences? Or are they just looking at, you know, your leading rooms, they're quite comfortable, they're happy to go on buses, they they want to do shuttle things? Are they going to be a walking tour? Is it going to be backpacking? There are so many different things that you need to understand your clients, and then also how you're matching that up with your suppliers to make sure it's a great fit.
The last thing that you want to do is when you're putting together your plan, saying this is yeah, this is really cool, I really want to do this, and then you go out to market. And you don't actually know anyone that fits this. But even if you don't know anyone that fits this criteria that you may not understand how to promote it. So coming up with your plan may take a bit of time understanding your terms and conditions, having a look at the legalities, preparing behind the scenes, all of your booking details. Because it's not just here's, here's what I'm going to do and you just talk about it. There are actually a lot of behind the scenes in negotiations and marketing materials and launch preparation, you want to make sure that if you're preparing to launch something for three months ahead or six months ahead that you have a solid plan as to how it's all going to come together. So the planning stage is really important.
The planning stage, I also recommend that you have a look at your financial analysis, your cost breakdown, and also factor in the time that you're going to be spending working on this. Because we all run out of time. And the last thing that I want for you is to actually think well hang on a second. I've I've done all this work behind the scenes. But now how do I deliver it, or I'm going to be spending five hours in contract negotiation? Well, that five hours you need to make sure you're compensated for as well. Even though you haven't sold it, even though you haven't traveled yet, need to make sure that your time is also valued as well. It's one thing that I think we miss out on particularly being in travel that we underestimate or we overestimate or underestimate, we underestimate how long things actually take. So keep this in mind as you are planning out your group travel experience.
The third stage is the actual selling. So your promotion of the experience, marketing sales promotions, how you going to get this group filled? What are your minimum numbers, we often need to think bigger than what we anticipate because I want you to have a bit of a stretch goal as well. So if you're thinking I want to take 12 people or 10 people on a walking experience across let me say the cheaper terian. Italy for instance, then can you accommodate. How can you accommodate those 10 people? What if you got 12 or 15? People? Would that make a difference? I always look at the minimum numbers and the minimum viable product in my planning stage. So I'm breaking down those numbers. But when I'm selling or promoting an experience as well, I want to make sure that I can also stretch myself. So if I say I would love to have 10 people on an experience with me and we all go skiing together in Japan, for 2024. Amazing, great, that's really what I want to have. But if I stretched myself and we sold 20 people onto the group, well, that would be amazing. And this is what it could look like. So have something in mind that you can also stretch yourself wherever possible as well.
And in this marketing and sales and promotion phase, this is what we're talking about inside our achievers mastermind for April, we've got a you know, the whole experience of what do you need to prepare? How can you come up with this? Or do I just need to talk about it in an email once or can I put it on social media? We're actually discussing the nitty gritty of it and how to actively promote your experience your group experience so that you can make sure that you feel it because we often think oh, if I talk about it more than once on social media, people will think that I you know, I'm ignoring myself or it's too much. No, we need to keep talking about it because often, in sales, you need to see things between five and seven times at least there could even be more now, before people will buy, or before they'll click on something. So having your marketing, your sales and your promotional material ready to go, comes back into that planning stage. But then we need to actively get it out there and get people into these groups.
So now we're moving on to the fourth stage is, which is where you're in action, in action means that you're on the ground. And you've got other things that are happening here on a daily basis. And I think one of the things that comes up when your group, when you're on an experience with a group is, well, I want to be having fun too. Now, if you're doing your work back in the planning stage, and even the selling stage by having run sheets, knowing what you need to do every day, having your step by step guide there to say, this is what I need to do each day, and you can tick it off as it happens. It's only you that understands that system. But your clients are going to be surprised and delighted. And yes, you will still be able to have fun. Yes, you will still be able to experience whatever is going on. Yes, you'll see it a little bit differently, but you will still be able to have that experience. You might even be thinking well, I want to run something and go on it and have fun myself. And if that's the case, then you need to have somebody there that can take control of that group on a daily basis, and that they are the ones that people refer back to.
So think about how you want to structure this, I often think well, if I'm responsible for the group, I need to be there to ensure that it is an amazing success. Or if something happens that I can then follow up with it. But I also know that I've got a great team that if I'm not able to that they will step up and they will follow our system to make sure that everything is done the way that we would normally do it. When you are in action, there will often be times that I'm not saying something goes wrong, but something will come up that you think you could do things a little bit differently. Or you could take it to the next level. And this is where back in the planning phase, you need to have some cash reserves, or you need to have something in there that if you wanted to do a wow factor, you can do it on the ground in the moment and experience.
This was one of my very first big, large international groups that we took away. And when we got there, I realized that we could actually take this to the next level by having fireworks when we've got our beachfront dinner. Like, for me, I just thought outside the box and went, what can we do? Because I feel as though we're here we're in this experience, what can we do that's different. Now I knew that, yes, this might take some money out of my commission, but what's going to be the wow factor that clients are going to be impressed by, they are then going to want to return. And following on from that, we've been able to then run specific groups now for seven and eight years. Those “wow” factors can make a big difference. So when you're in action, have a bit of buffer, understand what you might you could do that's above and beyond that really surprises and delights your clients.
I know when we get to an experience. So if we're running a four or five day conference, for instance, once everybody's arrived, and we've done all of their arrival transfers, the first day of the experience, we're then switching into Okay, how are we going to get everybody out of here? And I think that oh my gosh, we're all in it right now. But I know that by looking at, okay, what are the times what are the flights making sure that everybody is ready to go, we can start sending out those emails. Whilst we're on the ground to remind everybody, Hey, you pick up time is going to be at this hour, be ready at reception. We can do all of that, because we've got these systems in place.
We even just had that recently. So our very first international group back after the borders opened here in Australia was to Fiji. When I got on the ground, I thought this is such a momentous occasion, we need to do something bigger than just all go into the conference room. And so I spoke to my contacts at the resort. And I said, I feel as though we need to do something different. We need to really highlight this experience because it is a big momentous occasion that we are all here. Finally, after two years, how can we make this different? And we came up with a plan together and this is where relationships are great. We came up with the plan together. I suggested it to client to the client and I said I'd love for us all to have like a big welcome from the Fijian community and have some specialised dancers come in and we were able to do that. And yes, I was the one that was crying on the lawn as everybody walked inside the group, and I definitely had that ugly cry moment, but it was like, wow, everybody was blown away, they couldn't believe that there was this beautiful welcome for them, and they felt it as well. So what “wow” factors can you do whilst you're in action.
So running back over those four stages that I like, for putting together your system and process for groups is, number one, the idea number two, coming up with your plan, your negotiation, the numbers, look at the actual solid plan. Number three is selling and promoting your experience. Number four is when you're in action.
And the fifth one is the review process. Often when we finish a group experience, it's like, oh, we take a deep breath. And we're like, Okay, we're done. For me, no, it's about finalizing it packaging up looking at what we can do to make it better next time. So how did it all go? Do this review not only with yourself and your team and your suppliers, but also sending out you know, follow up to your clients? What was their experience, like gather feedback, whether it's constructive, or whether it's glowing, you can use all of that information to help you do things differently, better, or the same in the future. Make sure your files are finalized, any thank yous that need to go out actually get some done? And what could you do next time to make it even better.
So the five stages are the idea that plan, promoting and selling, having it all in action, and then reviewing your actual group experience, it is an absolutely amazing thing to add to your business. I'm not gonna say it's easy, or, you know, it's super hard work. It does take time, it is a long goal. It is a long sell in a lot of cases. But this is something that can actually bring your clients together, it can really enrich your business. And when done well. It's something that can bring you also so much joy, knowing that you can look forward to this in the future.
So if you want to know what our timeline is, or even these five stages to having successful groups, understanding, know what you can do to make it better, then I encourage you to grab the show notes, download the resources, and ask me questions about your specific groups. I love brainstorming, I love being able to support you in your travel business. And I hope that you will join us inside the achievers mastermind where you can then go back and review any of the training that we've done in the past. And we spent a whole month on this group's systems and processes.
We've got checklists in there. I've got spreadsheets for you. I've got all the questions to ask for your clients as well. So the pitfalls, the good stuff that happens that is all inside our achievers mastermind that you get access to when you become a member. And then also in April, we are diving even further, so deeper into the third component, which is the selling and promotion of your groups.
So I'd love for you to join us. It's an amazing community. And I look forward to seeing what sort of groups you create in the future. I look forward to talking to you soon. listen out for all of the podcast episodes in April which are all around groups. It's going to be amazing. I'll talk to you soon. Have an awesome rest of the day and weekend. Bye for now.