Hiding in Plain Sight: Your Agency’s Next Frontier

As the world slowly reopens, a quiet yet undeniable opportunity has emerged for the future of your travel agency. It is part of a demographic shift that will profoundly recast your customers’ needs and your ability to stay relevant as a “lifestyle” advisor.

It is estimated that 10,000 Americans reach age 65 every single day, and millions more face considerable retirement living challenges. Now could be the time for you to explore consultation and travel planning around a new and novel niche: lifestyle migration.

The hope is for a quick return to profitability for travel agencies and a return to normal, selling cruises, hotel packages and services. But what if there was a new travel niche hiding in plain sight? What if your 55+ clients were able to turn to you for advice around a primary lifestyle concern: retirement peace-of-mind?

Americans rely on a network of advisors to navigate life’s complexity. We have lawyers, accountants, insurance agents and realtors to help us along. We typically put life planning in the hands of attorneys and financial planners. They give us guidance (at significant cost) about our retirement years.

Both professions focus on risk and asset growth/protection. However, these advisors do not give advice about where to spend retirement years. Who is better to talk with folks about places to visit (and live) than you, their travel advisor?

That is where you come in. Your business can rebound well ahead of the cruise/package tour sales recovery. Here’s how:

—Stay relevant as your clients’ travel and lifestyle needs change.

—Address a growing need for retirement solutions that explore international living opportunities.

—Offer for-hire retirement consultation around reducing cost-of-living, enhanced quality of life and the realities of moving overseas.

—Continue selling package tours and cruises, albeit with a new twist.

—Sell custom-crafted ‘discovery tours’ to your age 55+ clients; to places where there’s already familiarity (like Mexico).

—Offer a new service not provided by OTA competitors.

—Keep serving your clients’ travel needs—even after they have moved abroad.

The idea of living abroad has gone from “Are you nuts!” to “I should stop watching cable shows and start exploring overseas living.” Places scarcely considered just a generation ago have become mainstream, thanks to popular TV shows like House Hunters Abroad, web publishers like International Living, respected publications like Forbes and senior advocate groups like AARP.

Technology, mobile lifestyles, video conferencing, longer lifespans and air travel connectivity have opened senior-living options in a variety of settings. Portugal, Costa Rica, Ecuador and of course Mexico are all viable options. Since it is more likely you have Mexico-loving customers than say Portugal or Ecuador travelers, it may be time to broaden your Mexico horizons beyond the all-inclusive vacation offer.

Right now, over two million foreign nationals call Mexico home.

Travel planning around retirement opportunities across Mexico (and other destinations) may be your agency’s new path toward staying relevant and profitable in the post-COVID-19 era.

Your first inclination might be to jot down a short list of “why my agency can’t do this now.” Be careful. You may find writing down the obvious obstacles becomes a roadmap rather than an off ramp to a new business model, helping existing and new customers find retirement peace-of-mind.

Greg Custer, Choosing Mexico LLC Founder and CEO, resides in Ajijic, Mexico and has worked in Mexico tourism for over 35 years.

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