Try not to panic, but imagine launching a new travel program from scratch. There are so many details to consider! What is your target market? Where will you travel? How much should a trip cost? How much revenue will the program generate? What do your travelers want? Are you overwhelmed yet?
Creating a new travel program can be a daunting task, but if it is done properly, it will pay off for years to come. Here at Academic Travel Abroad, we’ve been navigating the travel industry and providing guidance to our partners for over 65 years. We are experts in the field and have a few tips to share that will help even the most seasoned travel planner launch a new travel program.
Get the Whole Team on Board
Many organizations often designate a small team to champion the development of a fledgling travel program. While it is important to have individuals focused on the success of your new travel endeavor, it is equally important to have support all the way up the ladder. Be sure to set clear and definable goals and seek buy-in at all levels of the organization.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a successful travel program! It takes an average of 18-24* months for most organizations to get a new travel program off the ground. While this may seem like a long lead time, there are several important decisions to make before marketing trips. After establishing brand standards and designing core programs, trips should enter the marketplace 12-14 months before departure to maximize enrollment. Cutting corners may hinder the success of your program’s initial year, leaving stakeholders questioning its value. This can be avoided by working with a tour operator to clearly outline a timeline from conception to launch.
Research, Research, Research
You can’t have a successful travel program without travelers. Researching your target market is arguably the most important factor to your success. We cannot stress enough the value of gathering data to support your initiatives. You may already have several innovative ideas for trips that align with your company’s mission and goals, but will your patrons be interested? Analyze your customer list, send out a preliminary survey, and gauge interest in the early stages of program development. Ask questions to identify key market demographics and get a sense of the price point, destination, and trip duration your travelers are most interested in.
Work with a Trusted Partner
Last, but certainly not least, find a trusted tour operator to help you navigate your way. Tour operators have an in-depth knowledge of the industry and experience launching new travel programs. They can offer advice and guidance, collaborating with you throughout the process. When you work with a tour operator you gain an invaluable resource and partner.
If you are still searching for a tour operator, you’re in the right place because we happen to be one! To learn more about our process and how we can help visit: http://www.academic-travel.com/about/what-we-do/.
*Please note: A shorter time of only 12 months is generally required when launching only a single trip.