Does a Travel Business Make Sense in This Bearish Economy?

Since I accepted the challenge of marketing the Platinum One Destinations travel membership, I have often been asked if a travel business – especially a home-based travel business – can be profitable when the U.S. economy is in such doldrums.

The answer is an enthusiastic, if qualified, yes!

No legitimate business just makes money automatically on its own. As a business owner, not only are there services or products you need to provide, you need to have an understanding of the industry you’ve operating in and know how to market what you have to offer.

Thus, in order to succeed in a travel business like P1D or any of its competitors, there are at least three things you MUST know:

#1 The Basics of the Travel Industry. The business of travel is changing. Traditional “brick and mortar” agencies have given way to travel portals like Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz and nearly 50 percent of traditional agencies closed their doors between 1996 and 2006.

Still, even as the size of the travel industry continues to grow – despite our slowing economy – (the Travel Industry Association predicts a continued growth rate of 4.6 percent annually for the next 10 years), these online giants have seen an unexpected decline in their customer base.

Why is this? One reason is that the online travel booking giants have failed to differentiate the reasons people purchase from them. Low price and online convenience are not the only reasons people buy. Many online bookers are frustrated with their one-size-fits-all approach. These consumers have become dissatisfied with the uncongenial and indifferent nature of most online booking.

Knowing and understanding the reasons for the decline of traditional travel agencies allows you to position yourself with a significant advantage over the competition.

#2 Your Target Demographic and Who Your Customer Is

It is a mistake for small entrepreneurs to market broadly. The old sales adage “when everybody’s your customer, nobody’s your customer” is absolutely true. Every product, every service, every business either appeals or has the potential to appeal much more strongly to a certain definable group of people. This is even more true in a slow economy.

Too many business owners acquire their best customers only by accident. You literally can’t afford to take the chance in throwing out your message to “everybody” in the hope that the right people will find it. You need to have a clear idea of who your customer is.

One of the best target demographic markets for travel services are affluent baby boomers. They are in their peak earning years, and the oldest of them have reached the prime age for travel. Of greatest importance to our business is the fact that boomers have always placed a high priority on travel considering it a necessity, not a luxury.

This is important for no less than three good reasons. First, travel tops the list of activities that they intend to engage in after retirement. Second, the sheer number of boomers traveling will cause business to grow. Third, since travel is a necessity for them, boomers engage in it no matter how scarce their time or money. Travel on their part is less dependent on life stage or the economy.

#3 How To Reach And Capture the Attention of Your Target Market

The best product in the world won make any money for you if you don know how to market it. When all is said and done, its effective marketing that will determine the level of your success in this or any business.

Think of it this way: You can have the cure for cancer in a bottle and if you can figure out how to effectively get the word out, all you’ve got is a vial of chemicals that nobody is interested in.

Travel is a product in high demand to an audience or consumer group that can be reached effectively. It can translate into an easily workable business, but you need a good marketing system.

Unfortunately, too many aspiring business owners are mistakenly taught to focus on selling. What they need to learn is marketing: how to find and capture the attention of people who are interested in what they have to offer.

For myself, I find people who are so predisposed and interested in my travel product that these folks actually sell themselves. And when they sell themselves, I don’t have to. No convincing. No pushing. No hard sell.

It’s a much better (not to mention easier) way to do business.

In the end, succeeding in the travel industry doesn have to depend on the state of the economy. It doesn have to matter if you have never built a business or have sold a product in your life. You don need specialized knowledge, prior travel experience or even a sales disposition in order to build this business. What matters is your ability to learn what you need to and adapt.

A good business opportunity (like Platinum One Destinations) or sponsor (like myself) will present you with the proper business AND marketing systems, as well as the support necessary to be financially successful regardless.