Last updated November 24, 2023
It’s that time of year again. Goal setting time!
Whether you love or hate creating a travel agency business plan and setting goals, as a travel advisor you probably own your own business. And for small business owners like us, goals are vital to help us set our priorities for the year ahead.
But do you know the one factor that makes you more likely to actually accomplish your goals?
Yep, it’s that simple.
If you don’t enjoy the goal you set, you’re less likely to accomplish it.
But how do you make your business goals fun?
First, it starts with setting the right goals.
If you set a goal of doubling your groups business but you don’t enjoy booking groups, you’ve set yourself up with a miserable goal and you’re unlikely to hit it.
It’s not that it’s a bad goal, it’s a fine goal, but it’s a bad goal for you because you won’t want to work towards it.
Or maybe you set a goal of publishing a blog post or article each week. The problem is, you hate writing! But you set the goal because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do.
Maybe instead of writing blog posts or articles, what you really enjoy is being on camera. Video is a natural step for you, so lean into that. Instead of forcing yourself into a goal that other people say you should have, create a goal of a video per week and put it on YouTube!
Once you’ve picked the right goals, it’s time to make them fun.
I find the best way to do that is to break the goal down into milestones. Each time you hit a milestone, reward yourself. Maybe that reward is dinner out, a special bottle of wine, or an hour or two to read a book or watch a movie without feeling guilty.
My favorite reward is a digital download. Each time I hit a goal milestone I buy myself a new movie, tv show season, or Kindle book. It doesn’t create additional clutter in my house, it’s something I enjoy, and it doesn’t break the bank, but’s is a clear reward. I also intentionally don’t buy them outside of when it’s a reward, so if I want something new I better get to work on my goals!
Choose something that works for you, and make sure you reward yourself at frequent enough intervals to make working on it fun.
So what are some potential goals you could set? Read on!
Number of trips planned
If you want to grow your business, one of the simplest metrics to track and goals to set is the number of trips you plan.
Figure out how many trips you planned in 2022. Take that number and divide it by 12 to figure out how many you average per month.
Now add one or two to that monthly number, and you’ve just created your 2023 monthly trips goal!
Set the number high enough to be a bit of a challenge, but don’t overdo it. If you planned 20 trips in 2022 don’t suddenly set a goal of 50 in 2023. That big of a jump is simply not feasible for most people. Or if you planned 100 trips in 2020, maybe 125 is feasible. You know your business and opportunities better than anyone, but don’t fall into the trap of making the goal so big that it would take a miracle to reach it.
Average trip budget
If the average trip you book has a budget of $5-10k, the easiest way to grow your business is to attract clients with higher budgets. The amount of work for each trip is the same, but the financial reward to your business is vastly different!
I’ve found that, on average, an advisor makes about 10% of the overall trip spend in commission. Sometimes it’s a bit higher, sometimes a bit lower. But it’s a nice round number, so we’ll use it for this example.
That means on a $5k trip you’ll average about $500 in revenue, or on a $10k trip it’ll be about $1k in revenue.
Let’s say you’re just starting out, and you average 25 trips per year. An average of $1k in commission per trip will give you $25k in revenue for the year. If you have a host agency you have to take their cut off the top, so let’s say you get 75% of it, or $18,750.
Out of that you have to take your business expenses (fam trips or business travel, conferences and training, software, shipping expenses, etc.) as well as taxes. You won’t have much left over as income at the end of the year.
But what if you could increase your average trip spend? If instead of $10k you could increase that average spend to $12,500?
With that same 25 trips per year, if you make 10% of the trip back in commission you suddenly have an increase of over $6k, bringing in $31,250 for the year. If you keep 75% of that, you’ve increased your yearly income by about $5k. That’s quite a nice raise!
Instead of needing more clients who spend smaller amounts each, you want fewer clients who spend more. That also means you could end up doing less work, but making more money.
Who doesn’t want that?
Have you wanted to start a blog or send regular emails to people who have signed up for your newsletter?
Set a marketing goal of regular blog posts or emails. Whether it’s weekly, every other week, or once per month, the important thing is that the cadence makes sense for you and your business.
I prefer weekly blog posts and emails. Every other week is harder for me than every week because I have a lot of words! But if you struggle to come up with topics, or you simply don’t have time to create weekly content, maybe every other week is good for you.
If you’ve been creating content but have hesitated to send emails to your list, or you don’t have a list at all, sending regular emails can be a good goal. Maybe you want to send a weekly email to get your blog posts into people’s inboxes.
You can also set a goal to get a certain number of people on your email list or reading your blog. I like to reward myself after every 10 blog posts I publish, and also each time I have a certain number of people join my email list. (Want to get on the list? Join here!)
Business process goals
This is an umbrella term for those goals that don’t really belong anywhere else but improve the way your business works.
Things like refining or documenting your trip planning process, creating a new website, or transitioning to a CRM or database system that serves your business better.
They have a clear start and end point, and tend to be those projects that get put off when you’re busy. But they’re important for moving your business forward, and are perfectly suited to a goal.
You can choose a time frame when you want to complete them, or create monthly or quarterly milestones to make sure you keep moving them forward.
Maybe you know that fall is your slowest time of the year, once summer travel is complete and prior to the start of the holiday season. This can be a perfect timeframe to set for a goal like creating a new website.
If that’s when you want to do it, set it as a fall or third quarter goal.
No need to worry about it before then, or to keep thinking “I need to do that.” You’ve already chosen when you’ll do it, and when the time comes you’ll prioritize it and get it done.
Do you want a certain amount of income from your business? Not business revenue, actual income.
If you know how much your business makes (gross revenue), your business expenses, and what’s left over (aka your net revenue), you can plan to pay yourself a certain amount.
For example, maybe you know that your business makes $100k/year. Of that, $75k is used on expenses of various types. Basic math tells us that $25k is left over that you can pay yourself as income.
But what if you want to make $50k in income from your business in 2023? That’s double what you made in income last year, but not out of reach.
There are several options for making that additional $25k. Most likely you don’t need to increase your expenses to make in order to have an additional $25k in income, so what you need is additional revenue.
Let’s say you book, on average, 2 trips per week. Can you increase your client base and make it 3 trips per week?
Another way to hit an income goal is through your fees. If you don’t currently charge fees, it may be time to start. Not a plan-to-go fee that you apply to the trip. An actual fee in exchange for your services and expertise.
If you do currently charge fees, maybe it’s time to increase them.
If you book 100 trips per year, and you charge a fee of $100 per trip, that’s an automatic $10k just in fee revenue. Increase those fees to $250 per trip and there’s the entire $25k you were hoping to make.
The Bottom Line: Your travel agency business plan and goals
No matter what business goals you set for 2024, it’s important to keep them fun and reward yourself along the way.