Friday, November 21, 2008

Afternoon Session: Open Microphone Networking Discussion

Rebecca and Sheri take the reins for the "open mic" session on Networking.

Since we ran out of time in the morning, they kicked off with a short discussion of blogging. David Ourisman talks about his "Travel Horizons" blog ( This generated lots of discussion:
How often do you have to update? Answer: At least once a week

How do you know the person is legit? Answer: How do they know you are legit?

Do you need a professional to help you? Answer: No! It is soooo easy.

Really? I don't need help? Answer: If you can get through 1 hour of CB+ training, you can do this.
Now, time for the afternoon session to REALLY start.

Kicking it off -- the most important business lesson(s):
  • Never put anything on your credit card assuming your client will pay you back!
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up on every booking (example was "I didn't follow up and they booked it online.)
  • Avoid letting "shoppers" take advantage of you. How to know? When they ask, "What is your price?" Solutions: Ask for a fee, always require a credit card number to take them as a client and charge a cancellation fee, after conversation follow up with letter proposal and an invoice for consulting fee with credit card authorization form, call their bluff (have a good time!)
  • Stay on top of accounting and tax issues
  • The power of an online presence (even Facebook!)
  • Developing relationships and networking with key partners (including hotel reps) is invaluable
  • Be very clear about your fees up front
  • Have a tough cancellation fee. (Or at least have a cancellation fee!) Question: Is there a standard fee in Brownell? Answer: 15% on bottom of invoice? No conclusion.
  • Put everything in writing and be sure to have clients accept (or decline) insurance in writing. Strongly encourage them to call a claims agent to ensure they fully understand what is and what is not covered.
20 minutes left in this session. Provided a list of suggested topics for discussion:

  • Best practices for client events & success stories
  • Successful tips for building business niches
  • When to outsource admin work (i.e. when to get an assistant)
  • Examples of time saving tips
  • Sharing of marketing tips, ways to encourage referrals, wow-ing clients
  • How do other IC's handle fees? When are they charged, how much, tips for communicating
  • How to effectively close a sale
  • How to know when the Virtuoso hotel rate your are booking does, or does not, include Virtuoso amenities
Group selected "when to outsource admin work" as the topic for discussion. Gay Gillen Stone talked about her experience with the wrong admin. Advised that you should think about what the person should be and what they should do so you can hire the right person. David Ourisman hired someone when he was still in the mentoring program. Rebecca's advice was "get an assistant before you need one" and David took it to heart. It's an investment in your business.

Next topic "how to encourage referrals". Concensus: give them an incentive! One person used a flyer to give a cruise to nowhere for 8 referrals. Another suggestion was to send letter saying "if you enjoyed this trip, who can you refer to me?" Suzette Mack sends a thank you card (Starbucks) for any referral.

On to "successful tips for building business niches". Go where they are. If it's family, go where the families are. Make donations for prizes at school, etc. Same for adventure groups: kayak club, canoe club, etc.

Next up "when are V amenities included?" If using wholesaler or booking some other way, be sure to confirm if V amenities are included. Example of hotel listed as "best available rate" on but room type didn't qualify for V amenities. Is there a better way? Otherwise we have to always follow up with hotel.

That's it for now. Time for vendor presentations & small group meetings.

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