Travel Haus St Louis is the Bi-State area's premier Honeymoon, Destination Wedding, And Romantic Vacation agency. We have specialized in romance for more than 14 years.
Learning From The Honeymoon King
By Kate Rice
Travel Haus’ Michael Schellhase Marries Specialization With A Focus On Preferred Suppliers.
Bob Dickinson, CTC, president of Carnival Cruise Lines, started Schellhase down this path. Speaking at a Uniglobe conference in the mid-1980’s, Dickinson urged attendees to sell cruises and develop a specialty. “That stuck in the back of my mind over the years,” Schellhase says.
At that time, Schellhase was booking corporate travel. In July 1995 he bought the Travel Haus, then a corporate agency with a leisure following. Commission caps had just been implemented, and Schellhase began to build the business, getting rid of part-timers and recruiting full-time agents. What had once been an unprofitable agency now showed a profit from the first month.
Schellhase has a secret. “I’m a hands-on owner,” he says. “I don’t sit and [complain] about the commission cuts; I go out and make something happen.”
With Dickinson’s words echoing in his head, Schellhase moved from corporate to leisure. Initially, he sold some cruises. He had good relationships with the lines, and, in his first year, went from four Carnival bookings a year to 120. But he quickly realized that the commissions were much bigger on land vacations.
Travel Haus’ average land vacation costs $4,100, for which he earns 15 percent commission, or about $600. He receives 16 percent on a $4,000 cruise, but only about $2,300 of that is commissionable, earning him $360. With each $4,000 sale taking about the same amount of work, he decided to steeer clear of cruises and focus on land. But he still remembered Dickinson’s speech.
Schellhase started doing some research and discovered that about 14,000 marriage licenses are issued in the greater St Louis metropolitan area each year. He figured that about 12,000 of those couples actually marry and decided that he wanted 1 percent of that business for honeymoon sales. He started aadvertising in local magazines, quickly going from small, black-and-white ads to four-color, full page ads.
Travel Haus is now the No. 1 Sandals producer for Funjet Vacations worldwide for Sandals. The company is the No. 1 producer for Karisma Resorts on the Mexican Riviera [in the Midwest] and No. 3 nationwide for Karisma. In addition, it’s the No. 1 agency in a nine-state region for Couples.
“People call me the ‘Honeymoon King’,” Schellhase says. “I’ve never been married, [so] that’s got kind of a comic twist. We’re on the top because of what we specialize in. We’re not the biggest agency. We’re just the best at what we do.”
The average honeymoon he sells costs $4,100. Clients might come in with a $2,500 budget, but the agency up-sells them by promoting oceanfront rooms in resorts that have 24-hour room service and spas.
“We put people on top,” he says, booking honeymooners in suites, concierge rooms and floors that feature butler service. “Those are the people who come back and say, ‘What a great vacation!’ and recommend us to others.”
Schellhase has also been capitalizing on trends. Six or seven years ago, he would do one destination wedding. Today the agency books up to 150 that range in size from two people to 200.
He also focuses on a small number of suppliers. Funjet is his No.1 tour operator, Apple Vacations is second, and his next biggest supplier is a distant third. He takes advantage of Funjet’s marketing dollars, spending them as if they were his own.
In addition, he is a careful manager, requiring that his agents make the company at least three times their salary. “You look for the best of the best, and that’s really what we have in our office,” he says.
His honeymoon expertise also leads to repeat clients. Some celebrate anniversaries with trips. The agency also books a lot of vow renewals. In addition, the high divorce rate means that many of the honeymooners whom Schellhase books break up. But then they meet someone new, remarry and come back to Travel Haus for another honeymoon.
Funjet 500 Club 1998-2008 Funjet Top Producing Agent Best of the Best for Sandals 1999-2008 Gourmet Inclusive Specialist for Karisma
Funjet 500 Club 1998-2008
Funjet Top Producing Agent
Best of the Best for Sandals 1999-2008
Gourmet Inclusive Specialist for Karisma
Phone Number: (314)842-7313
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