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The big short: 5 tactics to fill an under-enrolled group

We’ve all been there. Your travel program had a flurry of initial enrollments but the well has gone dry. Your final payment deadline is fast approaching and you are several travelers short. How do you avoid canceling and alienating the loyal travelers who signed up?

There is no one magic tactic to deploy, but several strategies can find those last-minute travelers. Here are suggestions that have helped group leaders and planners in the past:

1. Share newsworthy articles with your followers

Appeal to the reason your audience travels with you. Generate excitement by sharing an article about a particular species found in the destination, an historical discovery, a recent event, a human interest story, or even an engaging travelogue with photos. By posting on your social media channels or sending an email, you can reach a lot of people with minimal effort.

2. Find a partner to co-sponsor your group

Many organizations are open to having “outsiders” join. In fact, this is often a way to boost your membership and followers. There are likely complementary organizations in your region that could post the trip on their website, social media channels, or emails. You might have to give them an incentive (stipend), or you may be able to work out a reciprocal arrangement.

3. Host a reception or webinar

The closer you can get to your audience, the better you can engage and excite them. Passion combined with detailed information is intoxicating (wine and cheese helps too!). Ideally, if you can assemble a group in person, show slides and make it informative, you will win them over. Be sure to have your current enrollees and “evangelists” there with you. If logistics prevent you from hosting an in-person meeting, then hold a webinar. Your travel provider should have the resources to assist with this (contact Holbrook for more).

4. Provide a token special offer with deadline

Sometimes a small gift or financial nudge will seal the deal. We are an offer-driven society. But you don’t want to alienate your current signups or create last-minute shoppers, so don’t make the offer too rich. Consider travel gear or a discount on another non-travel item.

5. Hold space with your provider for last-minute signups

Despite deadlines, there are folks who magically appear after the final signup date. More and more people wait until the last minute due to busy work schedules, family commitments, or financial uncertainties. Work with your provider to hold an additional room or two beyond the deadline. These stragglers can make all the difference in a successful trip.

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