The directors of Airworld Tours, a luxury travel business, were deeply concerned that their hard work to build a multimillion pound travel business over ten years would be unravelled by a ‘perfect storm’ of problems hitting them all at the same time.
Jamal Shahid and Mohammad Akram started luxury tour operator Airworld Tours Limited in the 1990s.
Using consistent advertising on TV’s Teletext Holidays service, they quickly grew the business until they had achieved annual sales in the millions. So far so good.
Then, after a decade of pro table growth, that storm hit them:
A Perfect Storm of Business Problems
They were caught in a trap that was made from three serious, business-threatening problems
- The switchover from analogue to digital TV destroyed their major source of leads, which left them with barely half the leads they needed to keep the business operating successfully
- The banking crisis hit consumer confidence and they saw competitor firms falling by the wayside, due to shrinking margins from airlines and hotels, and far fewer holidaymakers as consumer confidence was so low
- The weak position of the Pound to the currencies around the world, especially the Euro, weakened demand for international holidays even further.
The directors of the business scrabbled around for ideas that could save them.
They invested thousands in pay per click marketing to generate more website traffic, they sent out thousands of leaflets, placed ads with major newspapers and continued to produce their beautiful, 100+ page travel brochure.
Yet, despite their best efforts, and ideas fueled by their membership of the Chris Cardell marketing club, sales slumped horribly by 30 per cent on their previous best year, which began to feel like a distant memory instead of their recent history.
With such a slide in sales, they had to do something. Which was when they came across my website from a Google search.
Better Sales Management, Before Increasing Leads…
The initial conversation was that they wanted to get more enquiries. With a little analysis, it became clear that there were other factors we could improve, though.
The first priority was more efficient sales management. As a matter of urgency, the sales team needed some support, training and guidelines to ensure every opportunity that came in was maximised, turning more leads into sales.
There was no systematic follow-up of enquiries, which had to be fixed because sales were clearly being lost through inconsistent approach and follow-up.
Systems were updated to store history and action information for each client and booking, providing a powerful tool for monitoring, managing and reporting sales performance.
Simultaneously, my four-step sales process was introduced and the salespeople were monitored to ensure that the new methods were being followed.
A More Focused Business Strategy
With the sales function getting on track, we moved on to the next constraint – their business strategy had no real focus.
Airworld needed to develop a niche marketing strategy so that lead generation could focus on its most highly profitable holidays.
This focus intimidated the directors and their team at first, as it meant putting a disproportionate amount of their marketing effort and investment into a single destination.
We had a long discussion about this, debating the benefits of dropping many of their long-term ideas and experiences of marketing and instead concentrating on a smaller number of destinations.
Finally, after much debate, I persuaded them that it was the right thing to do.
The most serious challenge was to find a new marketing channel for them to replace Teletext.
A combination of several Internet marketing strategies (including online lead capture, Adwords and search engine optimisation, amongst other ideas) came together to produce a very strong new source of leads.
The owners worked intensively on their business for almost 12 months to get all of this done.
The Results Surprised Us All…
Because of all the hard work going in to change the business, there was a feeling that progress was very slow.
When they updated their neglected sales figures they reflected truly explosive growth of 89 per cent over their performance the previous year. You can see a few months of this in the chart below.
This was the fastest growth they had ever experienced in a single year and left both Jamal and Mohammad delighted to have really turned a corner.
I’ve worked with over 150 businesses, but never a travel company before Airworld Tours. Fortunately, Double Your Business Coaching works in any business, as you’ll see when you read about how we doubled their business within a year.
That’s an increase of hundreds of thousands — every month — in sales.
In fact, when the figures were in for the year, they had increased sales by £1.84m. They have since gone on to add over £10m to their sales, building on the work of that first year.
If they can do it, with the dreadful combination of circumstances that faced them, what’s possible for your business?
In Their Own Words…
Now read the story as told by Jamal Shahid, one of the directors of Airworld Tours…
“In December 2008 we made contact with Lee because the recession was hurting us. This affected the travel business generally, and we knew we had to make some changes. On top of this, our major source of leads was Teletext from analogue TV. With the switchover to digital TV, this was a lot less effective and we had found it difficult to replace the volume of leads effectively. We had tried Google Adwords and other sources of advertising, but all of them cost more than the business they produced.
We knew there were some better ways of working, but despite the information we got from our membership with Chris Cardell, we found it difficult to apply it effectively for our own business. That’s why we decided to get in contact with Lee. He came in to see us for a free coaching consultation and explained how he could help us. We shook hands on the day and started working together in January 2009.
Progress was slow at first – reading some of the testimonials I think we had hoped for a miraculously quick turnaround. With hindsight I think it was because we were in very tough market conditions and had such a lot that we needed to change. If you want to increase your turnover when your business is in the millions you need a clear strategy and a bit of patience!
With Lee’s guidance and support we were able to build new lead sources and better processes to get the most out of our enquiries. This involved a better marketing strategy, faster responses, changes to telephone systems, better email follow-up and a host of other changes.
The results speak for themselves. In January 2010 we did double the business that we did in January 2009. Working with Lee through 2010, we think this year is going to be a great success for Airworld Tours. We now understand how to keep growing the business, even in a downturn.
It’s not rocket science, but step by step changes that each improve your business by a small amount. Added together, these make a big difference. Clearly we have turned things around and are increasing turnover again, which is a great position to be in despite the recession.
We can now look to the future with real confidence and are working with Lee to build a new niche market that we believe we can use to more than double the size of the business again. We’ll then repeat this with other niches to take our business up to a whole new level.
If you think your business could do with a bit of help, I strongly recommend you pick up the phone and talk to Lee. We’re certainly glad that we did.”
What Results Could Your Business Achieve?
If you want help to grow your business, register for a 15 minute initial Double Your Business Audit call. You’ll be asked a series of questions about your business so that we can diagnose precisely what needs to be done to make it grow, and whether or not we are a fit to work together.
There is no selling on this call – it’s not for everybody and I won’t take people who I don’t think will be a good fit.
If you’re interested after this brief 15 minutes chat, and if your business is a fit, we can arrange another time to talk in-depth.
Contact Information & Disclaimer
Not all businesses will achieve results of this nature or with this speed. Airworld Tours’ results are not typical for every client; the directors worked extraordinarily hard to implement the advice, strategies and actions from the coaching programme. Your results may vary depending upon your industry, your specific situation and the effort you put into your business.
Mr Jamal Shahid will confirm these results and can be contacted through the Airworld Tours website at www.airworldtours.com.