Last time, I talked about specializing. I have a niche–wine tours. Now what? How do I market that niche? More importantly can I make money with my new niche? Can I incorporate some of my other interests such as family travel, cruises and Disney into the mix? On paper it sounds easy. But, I needed help. I needed a mentor and I found one. I am lucky to have found one here in Columbus, OH that not only “gets it” but does very well at her travel business by focusing on her niche. I met with her last week and we discussed how to position myself as an expert and how to sell the “experience” rather than the product. She gave me examples and told me I needed to differentiate myself from the pack.
Selling the experience and your expertise is a hard concept for someone who was trained to sell everything from hotels to cars. I took every booking no matter how small or how little commission I made. I would spend hours with tire kickers only to have them go on line and book. I never charged a retainer because I just “knew” that would scare the client away. You have to get out of that mind set. And, yes you have to turn business away–which in this economy, is scary. You have to look clients in the eye or tell them on the phone that you charge a retainer. It’s a whole different ballgame.
My mentor suggested the book, The Prize Inside. It’s a great book on how to differentiate yourself from the competition. Plus, it offers ideas on how to “market” or position yourself. Reading marketing books has helped me tremendously. Best of all you can get these books at your local library which doesn’t cost you a dime.
To me, finding a mentor who is successful in selling travel is critical to growing your business and helping you. In my case, my mentor is in my city and is someone I am happy to call a friend. You don’t have to live in the same city to have a mentor–although it helps. You can find mentors through TRO and other sites. All you have to do is ask for help.
So, now I am working on differentiating myself. I am on a mission to fill my database with great clients one at a time. To do that, I have a marketing plan. I know what works and what doesn’t. I will no longer spend my advertising & marketing dollars randomly. If I need help my mentor is a phone call or email away to help, listen and offer advice. I understand that my niche is going to take some time to build and that I need to be patient. I know that I must not deviate from my marketing plans and goals. The brass ring of more business is right around the corner.
Mary Stephan is the President of Allons Travel based in Powell, OH. For more information, you can contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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