In the Trenches: Going Corporate
Last week I wrote about how we were looking at making some changes as a result of the December rush, but one thing I didn't mention was that we've gone corporate. That's right, break out the suits. Instead of focusing solely on individuals, we're moving toward the small business market as well.
For us, the decision to move into the corporate market was an easy one. We had already handled some small businesses informally when one person from a company would sign up and start using us for his travels. Then we'd see coworkers start to reach out and ask for our help as well when they got stuck in, say New York. (That's where everyone gets stuck, right?) So it was natural for us to create something geared more toward a whole business instead of an individual to help fill the need for solutions.
But before we jumped in, we had to find a niche. Most big companies are already handled by large corporate agencies, and we had no interest in getting into something that convoluted. Instead, we figured that businesses up to about 20 people were handling travel planning on their own or using a few automated tools. We knew we could offer a better service than that, so we put together a small business plan that would allow us to manage travel for these smaller companies in a business-to-business relationship.
We've just had our first new business sign up this week, and so far we're finding the focus on business to be far easier than on the individual. When you work with business, you can learn customer preferences and get all their information, credit cards, loyalty program numbers, etc. at once, which lets you manage things much more easily. With individuals, it is truly an "individual" learning process with each client. Individual clients also tend to travel less than business clients, so it's easier to get more bang for our buck by working with a larger group.
This doesn't mean we want to ignore individuals. In fact nothing changes with that side of the business at all. This just lets us expand our reach into an area that requires less work per interaction and provides a more stable revenue source. The additional focus didn't take much effort at all on our part, but it's opened up a huge new market for us. What obvious market have you been ignoring that you could tap in 2011?
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.