July 2019: First customer in the books; marketing efforts continue.
We completed the first full customer journey. You’ll remember from last month that we invoiced our first customer, with much hoopla. That customer went on tour this month.
Getting through the whole process has given us a much better picture of how this new model is going to work. We tried our best to write Standard Operating Procedures beforehand. Having a customer go through the whole process has allowed us to vet those documents and write a few we didn’t know we needed.
We’re trying to avoid the pit of despair that is social media. When she first got started freelancing, Zine set up a Facebook page and eventually an Instagram account in the Thailand ETCetera name. She updates them periodically, but no effort has been put into gaining more followers.
One of the things we want to try is offering Travel Classes. Think Talks at Google or, to be industry specific, Rick Steves’ Travel Talks. I figure we can contact libraries, social clubs, even private companies and offer to do a free class for them. This will get me in-front of people, help create some rapport with prospects.
Another thing I’ve been trying is reaching out to travel agents. I’ve started with agents operating near me in north Alabama and east Tennessee. As I understand the typical travel agent business model, they research travel options for their customers and partner with some large travel company for the bookings. I don’t know what kind of commission they typically take for their services and whether we could offer that to them, but it can’t hurt to have friends in the travel industry.
Zine has taken many groups on tour before, but these groups were families or friends. She never put out a specific date and asked people who didn’t know each other to join. But I’ve noticed a lot of the larger tour operators in the US do exactly that. I’ve also seen local organizations, like my local retirement center, contract with a company to offer tours to their members. Since we’ve never done these types of tours, I’m not certain what the participants expect. I’m not sure why, but travel agents are willing to get on the phone or at least exchange emails about business. I’ve reached out to a few group tour operators, but I have yet to get a single one to answer an email.