Travel Research Online has covered many topics. We have Tweeted, Facebooked, MySpaced, and blogged. Last week, our publisher said that getting physically back into the community might not be a bad idea either. And when you are out in the community, you need to be selling yourself and your business all the time. I tend to forget that. I consider my business, Single Parent Travel, to be successful; yet I often find myself beginning to take that for granted. When I realize that, I take a step back to Salesmanship 101 and re-ground myself. And if you have not attended class in a while, there is no better place to start than with the “Elevator Pitch”.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is the 30-60 second business description of what you do and why someone should buy travel from you. It’s called an “Elevator Pitch” because it describes the challenge: “How would you explain your travel business and make a sale if you were placed in an elevator with your dream client and you only had the time it takes to get from the top of the building to the bottom?” This column will explain the 8 critical components of the pitch and then offer several tips on how to put it all together.
Why Is Having an Elevator Pitch So Important? You only have 30-60 seconds to make a powerful first impression—and first impressions are everything. The average person will give you 30 seconds of their time before their mind starts wandering. You need to grab them quickly or lose them forever.
The 8 Critical Components of the Elevator Pitch
- It’s Concise. Your pitch must be short–no more than 30-60 seconds.
- It’s Clear. Use language that everyone understands. Don’t use fancy words thinking it will make you sound smarter. If you think peppering your pitch with PNRs, NCFs and PFCs will win any clients, you are sadly mistaken. Save the jargon for the industry.
- It’s Powerful. Use words that are powerful and strong. Back in my Journalism class, I was taught to write a headline that grabs the reader by the _____! Your pitch should as well.
- It’s Visual. We sell travel. You can’t carry a DVD full of photos with you, so be sure to use visual words. Build the image in your client’s mind with your words. This will make your message memorable.
- It Tells a Story. Make it short; but tell it. The essentials of a good story are: someone with a problem either finds a solution or faces tragedy. Both types of stories can be used to illuminate your travel business; and there is no shortage of either.
- It’s Targeted. A great elevator pitch is aimed for a specific audience. If you have several specialties or do leisure and corporate travel, consider different pitches.
- It’s Goal Oriented. A butt kicking elevator pitch is developed with a specific outcome in mind. Are you looking to sell into that group cruise? Looking for a new client? Looking for a marketing partner? Be prepared to modify your pitch accordingly.
- It Has a Hook. This is the element that will snag your listener’s interest and make them want to know more. This is the phrase that resonates with them and will have them asking for your card. (You do always have cards on you, right?)
How to Craft Your Killer Elevator Pitch
- Write down what you do. Don’t hold back. Put down everything you do. Your ideas can be goofy, serious, wild, funny, or conservative. It doesn’t matter. The goal is to get at many ideas as possible down on paper. We will edit these and refine them later. Think brainstorming!
- Write a very short story that illustrates what you do for your clients. Don’t worry if it is too long, we can hone it down later. Use your visual words and paint that destination or that cruise.
- Write down your objective or goal. What do you want out of this interaction when the elevator doors slide open? A sale? An opportunity to talk again? Their business card? Them to ask for yours?
- Record yourself. This is very important. Invest in a digital recorder to record yourself. You need to be smooth with the pitch. Most modern computers have a built in recording program or you can find several online.
- Let it sit. Ignore it for a day, two days or even a week. Revisit your recordings and your written work with a fresh clear mind.
- Highlight the good stuff. Listen and read through your notes and recordings. Highlight the clear, powerful, and visual words. You will still need words and phrases to tie it all together, but you want them to be as few as possible.
- Put the best pieces together. Just like shampoo—rinse and repeat. Do it again and refine it into a much tighter pitch. This iteration should tell what you do and why people want to do business with you. Include parts of your story if you can fit it in.
- Record these new ones again. This time make sure you are not “uhmming”, “liking”, and “welling”—we all do it!
- Do a final edit get rid of as many unnecessary words as possible. Rearrange until it sounds just right and consider adjusting pitch and speed. Again, the goal is 30-60 seconds maximum.
- Dress Rehearsal. Alienate your family and friends! Get them all to listen to your pitch and be brutally honest with their critiques. Adjust if necessary.
- All Done. Take your final product and write it down. Memorize it! Practice it! Keep at it until it falls out of your mouth naturally.
- Go Back. Once you have it, don’t just leave it there in your mouth. Keep your ears open for new catchphrases and words that might make a better pitch. If necessary, go back and re-craft it from the beginning.
What’s mine? Well, if you are interested:
I am the owner of Single Parent Travel. While our name is pretty obvious, we focus on the unique needs of single parents as they travel the globe exposing their children to the wonders of our world. We know no boundaries. Since the needs of single parents are unique, we attempt to remove some of the barriers such as price, companionship, and to a large degree the awkwardness many parents feel traveling alone or with a child. While we mainly do group trips and excursions, our expertise allows us to plan individual journeys to specific destinations, hotels, resorts, and cruise lines that are good matches for today’s busy single parent. We have a free online newsletter distributed monthly to over 15,000 single parents and most of our groups are on the small side—anywhere from 6 to 20 families. One of the best perks of my job is to see the friendships formed by my clients among each other and seeing them time and time again on our group trips.
What’s your pitch? Are you a Dodger or a National? Why not share it with the rest of the TRO family in a comment?