How are your sales?

Almost everyone I have talked to this month, with the exception of a small few, has reported record sales for January. This is for both the adventure and volunteer space. So, how are your sales doing? If they aren’t starting to rocket then take a hard look at your marketing because FYI: people are buying again.

8 thoughts on “How are your sales?

  1. I doubt they are lying as people like to complain, and for a good majority I have had access to their sales numbers so can see for myself they are going way way way up.

  2. I agree with People and Places. I’m sorry, Alexia. I could not disagree more strongly with the premise you make. I talk to people also.

    It is more complicated than “I had a record January.” You had 50 sales last January and you have 55 this January? More people just have their head above the water than are swimming with the current.

    I’m more interested in:

    1. How many people have changed up their offerings? Where you did only vollie last year, have you added teach? Internship?

    2. Of the orgs who offer EXACTLY what they did last year, how are your sales? Of the orgs who added new options (medical where they didn’t have it before, internships where they didn’t have it before) are your sales up? (yeah…they will be.)

    3. How many orgs are offering volunteer abroad in 2012 vs. 2010? And how many of those are run out of a home with 2 or 3 staff? (nothing wrong with that, but ultimately an important metric.)

    4. How many layoffs were there in 2011 as we started 2012? Call it “mean and lean” if it makes you feel better.

    5. How many online search engines are operating now for volunteer abroad? My count is 4, but I would guess there are more. What is THEIR overall traffic? How does this translate to what operators are spending in marketing dollars? Who uses Ad Words? How many pay vs. how many are getting grants from Google?

    6. Knowing that we can get anyone’s traffic on Alexa (never use since they only measure USA traffic) how is that relating to actual sales? 100% of the organizations we monitor (there are 20 of you) are down significantly in traffic on Alexa since December 28, 2011. 100%. Down in traffic on Alex, monitored weekly. That’s doesn’t mean sales are down, but it means traffic is down. If your traffic is down and your sales are up, in all honesty I want to know what you’re doing. Content? It is king, you know. And don’t tell me you can’t trust Alexa. If you monitor it regularly and you look at it for all it is (traffic estimate only) you very easily and quickly can compare apples to apples.

    7. 2011 January was a record month. 2011 February was a bust. March 2011 was a record. So do you see your 2012 sales resembling the tracking of 2010? Or 2011? For our part, although the numbers are wildly off, the TRACKING (% leads, % sales, etc.) track more closely with 2010…a record year. Maybe you want to call it trending, and not the social media trending.

    See? It’s complicated. VERY complicated. These are things I would find interesting. These are things travel people can’t lie about. Are my sales up? Yes. Are my sales a record high? Sure. But I’m a travel guy. And in 38 years in this business, I’ve never told the truth about sales OR marketing. Too many competitors.

    What I will tell you, and this is in all honesty, is that we ended 2011 21% ahead of 2010. Sounds wonderful, right? I cannot begin to tell you what that cost us. In cash. In spirt. In staff morale. You can spend yourself into records. You can crash and burn as quickly. What good does it do to end up 21% ahead of last year if you have less cash to show (the search engines got it all) or staff morale is waning because of the stress to do more with less.??

    These are issues burning in me right now. I could give a rat’s ass if people’s numbers are up.


  3. Ooooh I love debate, stirs thought and momentum!

    All I can say Randy is that the folks I know that are up have not added new product, they’ve just gotten more inventive in their marketing and increased their conversion rates. How do I know? Because at one point they’ve hired me so I have access to their info (or did) and they dont have a whole lot to gain by lying to me since I’m not competition.

    I can tell you from the adventure space alone I have never seen more ads for people looking for sales staff and hiring top marketing positions. Adventure tends to lead and volunteer tends to follow, so I’m pretty confident things will pick up – I know of a couple looking to hire as we speak.

    I played on Alexa a bit just now for some of the top companies in this field – it looks like some have traffic that is a bit down but if you dig deeper you see the bounce rates are also down which bodes well for them – as well as I noticed that page views were up.

    Can voluntourism stay the same with the same product and marketing and expect to grow like adventure has? No. But the fact is that sales are up, whether you believe it or not that is what I’ve seen AND heard. Are the companies that are up getting less traffic getting better at conversions and driving high quality leads? Maybe. Have they had to find unique partnerships in the last few years and now those are coming to fruition? Maybe. Are they thinking outside the box with their marketing initiatives? Maybe. I think just blaming the market and saying everyone is down is an easy out, maybe companies that are down YOY need to challenge themselves more and find their real differentiating factor.

    • In fact, Alexia, I am not blaming the market at all. I have nothing to blame the market on. We’re doing great, so the market, apparently, is our friend. I just said the price to go there (up year over year) was more than the reward…for me anyway.

      The 2 points I was making…perhaps badly…is that:

      1. Under every rock there is someone with their hand out. 4+ search engines specializing in marketing volunteer programs. It’s out of line and out of touch with the reality of being a provider. And, it divys up the traffic from 1 to 4 or more. And besides, it is the same ole same ole on every…single…search engine. Same guys, same programs, same pricing, same everything.

      Review sites want to charge. AbroadReviews would like $500 from every provider to “verify” their status and have the right to question a review that was suspect from the get-go. And this is just the tip of the ice-berg.

      Everybody’s dog and brother (and horse) is trying to do something in this space. Add to the dog, brother and horse a cruise line, an upscale touring company and corporate trips. That divides up the market even more.

      Standards. Now that’s a laugh a minute. Building Bridges, TIES, WYSE Work Abroad, and I don’t know. One a week it seems. And if I adhere to the standards of one, I’m breaking standards on another. Again, dividing the market.

      2. Traffic is down. Not OVERALL traffic. A divided world. I didn’t mean to suggest earlier that volunteer travel is tanking. I don’t think it is. I think it’s still a big deal.

      Take 1000 people and divide them into 4+ search engines and all 4 have less traffic than the original 2. Take those same 1000 people and rather than have them look over 20 operators, give them 40. Traffic is down. Same 1000 people (up from 750) but they are divided up more than ever before.

      In all, more and more people are traveling and I agree, Alexia, “people are buying.” They have far more choices even than last year.

      You can put so may passengers on a boat that it sinks. No matter how you rearrange the deck chairs, no matter how innovative you become…more is not always better. 2 hippos in a row boat will sink it, even if you put a pink skirt on each one.

      That’s all I was trying to say earlier. Traffic is down. Divided into so many pieces, we fall.

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