By Kelly Monaghan
I was recently taking my own advice, offered in the Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course, and appearing on a local radio show as a “travel expert.”
It was a lot of fun and, since I was part of a panel, I got to meet some interesting folks whose paths I might not have crossed otherwise. And it’s surprisingly easy to present yourself as an expert to local radio. Regular shows that broadcast weekly or even daily are hungry for both topics and people who can speak intelligently about them. That could be you.
It takes some research (identifying local shows that might be in need of your expertise) and effort (contacting those shows and making a case for booking you), but the payoff can be worth it. You might even get a slot as a “regular”.
But that’s not really the point of the post. What prompted me to write was the place where the show was taped.
The Madison Beach Hotel is a small (32 rooms), upscale, boutique hotel on the Connecticut shoreline in (of all places) Madison, CT. Now if you know of Madison at all you probably know it as a wealthy bedroom community of New Haven, home of Yale University. It is certainly not high on anyone’s list of “hot” tourism destinations. But that doesn’t stop the Madison Beach Hotel from filling up regularly at rates that start at $250 a night and rise sharply during the summer months.
After a tour of the property, the reasons weren’t hard to see. The setting is lovely and secluded with a private beach, a nice choice for a nearby romantic getaway for Connecticut residents. The restaurant is first-rate, there is a compact but well-equipped spa, and there is meeting and banquet space. In fact, the hotel does a good trade in the wedding and MICE markets.
It’s not too surprising that the hotel draws most of its clientele from nearby Connecticut cities and some people come a fair distance, from places like Stamford and Hartford. Those arriving from farther afield are usually attending weddings.
Oh, and yes, the Madison Beach Hotel is more than happy to work with travel agents.
As much as I liked it, this is not an advertisement for the Madison Beach Hotel. Instead, I bring it up to encourage you to ask yourself, “What great destinations are hiding in plain sight in my immediate vicinity?”
Most of us go into the travel business dreaming of far off, exotic destinations or long leisurely cruises for our clients. We tend to overlook opportunities closer to home.
I can think of a number of ways a home-based travel agent could profit from a close-by property like this.
The most obvious, perhaps, is weddings. If you’ve been thinking that the only way to make money on weddings is destination weddings and honeymoons you need to revise that mind set. There are plenty of commissions to be made from finding a terrific venue for a local wedding and booking inbound resort guests.
Then there is the MICE market, which tends to be a bit more complex and have a steeper learning curve. But if you master it, the rewards can be substantial.
Don’t forget the “staycation” trend, now declining somewhat but still in evidence. Folks who choose to stay home for a vacation might not spend a week at a place like the Madison Beach Hotel, but they might consider a night or two.
I already mentioned romantic getaways. Why not celebrate a birthday or an anniversary with a fine meal at a gourmet restaurant and then a restful night in a posh hotel room with a great view just upstairs?
I would encourage you to find the Madison Beach Hotels in your neck of the woods. Get in touch and ask for a tour. If you’re new to the business, this will be good practice. Ask yourself, “Who would this property be right for and in what circumstances?” Be creative and you might wind up with a nice new profit stream.