As a travel agent, you are a business owner who wears many hats. Marketing, bookkeeping, client relations…the list goes on! If you are not intentional with your time, you can feel like you are way in over your head and like you are ready to give up. With some time management tips and practice, you can finally start to feel like you are running your business — and not like it is running you.
Time management is using your available time in a useful and effective way, especially when it comes to your work. However, before you can effectively manage your time, you need to think about how much of it you want to invest in growing and maintaining your business.
How much time do you actually want to dedicate to your travel business?
Every travel agent is different, which means business needs vary with each individual. Some agents want to dive in and work full-time, while others choose to work part-time. Knowing how many hours per week you have available to dedicate to your business is important when it comes to goal setting.
Additionally, do you have the space in your life to work on your business? Are you a caretaker? Do you have another job? All of these are factors in how you will go about prioritizing your time. Once you know the answers to these questions, applying a few of these tips to your workstyle will help you use your time more efficiently.
Not all tasks are equally important, and understanding your priorities will save time and keep you focused.
As a travel agent, when it comes to time management, the most important tasks fall into two buckets: servicing existing clients and bringing in new clients (customer service and marketing). Existing clients need to know not only that their travel arrangements are in good hands, but also that they are running smoothly and without hiccups. Make sure each client has consistent communication from you and that you keep them posted on any changes as quickly as possible.
Travel agents should also regularly be on the lookout for potential new clients. Whether that is by using an itinerary and leads management system, attending local events to advertise, or following up with new acquaintances, keep an eye out for every opportunity.
Set aside time to work on your other goals, too.
While serving clients and getting new ones is the “bread-and-butter” of being a travel agent, do not forget your dreams. Another additional priority might be growing your team to help serve all of those new clients!
As your business continues to flourish, you may also want to expand your services like offering exclusive cultural travel classes once (or a few!) times a month. Continue to learn about new suppliers, FAM trips, etc., on a regular basis to keep your business growing and thriving.
Every travel agent can benefit from learning specific time management strategies.
There are multiple plans of action you can take to manage your time as a travel agent. Being strategic with what you do with your time, delegating tasks, and using processes and systems to make sure you do “all the things” in the most efficient ways can help you stay focused and will ease some of the natural stress business owners have to endure.
Time blocking is a technique in which you assign blocks of time to complete specific tasks.
You can set aside an hour or a few minutes to work on specific business needs every workday. Doing this can help you break your day into manageable parts as well as help you limit your distractions. By focusing on one set of tasks for a specific block of time, you may actually accomplish more throughout the day.
Perhaps your first time block of the day could be handling emails from 7 to 8 a.m. Next, you could spend the hour managing client files (checking payments, scheduling transportation, making sure waivers are signed, etc.). After you officially know your clients are on track, you may then want to call vendors and suppliers over the next hour to follow up on any pressing matters.
Time blocking in this manner can help you feel more organized, establish boundaries, reduce procrastination, and get passed the surface-level work and into the more effective deep work: ensuring your clients have the most fulfilling travel experiences they can.
To make the best use of your time, you may need to hire a virtual assistant or additional team members.
As you bring in more business, you will eventually need help if you want to continue to grow. Even if you only want to maintain your business momentum, you will find that you cannot do everything yourself. It really does take a village. Consider hiring more team members or a virtual assistant to lighten your workload.
A virtual assistant or an extra team member that is devoted specifically to your needs can take care of the tasks that are not a good use of your energy — like emails, scheduling, administration, content marketing, social media management, and even personal tasks. You will save valuable time and will be able to focus on more important things, like studying upcoming travel trends or going on familiarization (FAM) trips.
The most relaxed travel agents save time by using automation to manage their schedules.
Busy travel agents need to conserve as much time, resources, and billable hours as possible in today’s fast-paced travel industry. Automated solutions can reach the same analytic and storage objectives in a fraction of the time. Instead of paying 2 to 3 employees to sift through multiple spreadsheets, analyze data, and review reports on vendor performance over several days, an automated system can have the numbers and trends ready in minutes. This saves time, employee hours, and ultimately, money.
Travel agents can also use automation programs like Calendly to automatically book and block off time each week for new client consultations. Being able to have your appointments pre-arranged frees up even more time.
Travel agents need to charge the right planning fees to make their time worthwhile.
Running around like crazy trying to meet the needs, and sometimes demands, of your clients can make you feel like you are spinning your wheels if you are not seeing any profit. To avoid unnecessary discouragement, make sure you do the inner work to see your true value as an individual and as a travel agent. Charge the fees that you are worth and be proud of the services you provide. There should be no doubt. Your time is valuable.
Travel agents in specialized niches often find out that their clients are more than happy to pay for expert travel advice and services that enrich their overall travel experience. So, have a list of clear fees and revisit them on a consistent basis.
Creating your content in batches instead of sporadically will streamline your marketing, saving time and anxiety.
Travel marketing can be a beast. You could easily spend hours every day trying to write emails, blog posts, and captions here and there for all of your different social media platforms. Or, you can be strategic. Content batching helps you post continually and seamlessly across multiple platforms.
Create all of your marketing content for the month, or even the quarter, at once. Then, schedule it using a system like Later to automatically post it at a specified date and time in the future. It will take weight off of your shoulders to know that your marketing for the next month or quarter is “over and done” until the next set time.
Services such as Wanderlust Social can also save you added time by creating the marketing pieces for you. All you have to do is customize them with your branding, add your own logo, and get them scheduled! Content batching can work wonders in the efficiency department.
Spend less time marketing by creating systems to bring in new business in the easiest way possible.
As a travel agent, it can be hard to grow your clientele. Creating systems like using lead funnels will expand your reach. Mailing out brochures to your local market can bring in a few bites, but using a system to constantly generate warm leads can bring in even more new clients.
Incorporating systems to advertise on platforms such as Google Ads or Facebook will also save you marketing time, drive traffic, and increase sales and visibility. Facebook alone entertains 1.62 billion users every day, so you are literally reaching the masses when you put the right systems in place.
It’s time to reach your business goals.
Knowing which priorities to focus on, when to hire additional team members, and how to take advantage of different time management techniques will take your business productivity to the next level. Beyond time management, make sure you find the right community to help grow your business, keep you accountable, and achieve all of your travel business goals.