John Chow is something of an internet celebrity. He makes money on the internet telling people how to make money on the internet. His latest video is making the viral rounds and I watched it a few days ago. I was struck by something he said about blogging. One of his comments lamented how the low cost of entry for blogging was one of the reasons so few people succeed. Because people can start a blog with no expertise, passion or investment, their heart often is not really in the endeavor. Unwilling to invest funds into the enterprise, most bloggers soon fade away, or never grow their business.
Something sounded familiar. I think there is a pretty good analogy in our own industry. How many people get into travel because “it’s easy?” There are no barriers to entry, no tests to take, no certifications. You can create business cards with your printer and you are off to the races. No doubt this accounts for many of the “drive by” agents we see – here today, gone tomorrow. Having decided that no investment is necessary to enter the travel industry, these agents deceive themselves into thinking no investment is needed ever.
Getting into the travel business is easy. It’s staying in business that’s tough.
Staying in business requires investments of time, energy, and, yes, money. However, I often encounter agents who do not understand the need to invest in their business, who begrudge every expenditure as an expense rather than as an investment. I suspect at least some of the popularity of social marketing vehicles like Twitter and Facebook have as much to do with their low cost as they do with their effectiveness.
We all live with the necessity for a budget, and I am a huge proponent of guerilla marketing. However an earlier message in The 365 Guide bears repeating. Shoestring marketing is great, just so long as you don’t let your shoestrings become nooses. The low cost of entry into the travel industry does not mean no investment is required on an ongoing basis. This is especially true in the effort to project your company’s image – logos, business cards, websites, email addresses – all of the visual icons that represent your brand. But it is also true when it comes to your manner of dress, the need for continuing education and certifications.
I’m not knocking frugality or the need to be smart with your expenditures. I am speaking to the “pound foolish” mentality of believing that you can project a professional image without making the necessary expenditures.
In October, TRO will again work through a marketing plan with agents who care to follow along. Most of the marketing tactics we suggest you employ will require far more personal effort than actual capital, but some will require you to invest, and re-invest, in your own company. I hope you will follow along and give serious consideration to appropriate investments of time, energy and dollars in the maintenance of your travel practice.