In its simplest form, marketing consists of generating new business and keeping old. Any new customer may spend money with you once, but a loyal customer provides a lifetime of business! Many travel professionals confuse the concepts of marketing on the one hand and sales on the other. Marketing refers to the techniques used to gathering customers to a product or concept, of grabbing their attention. Marketing is a packaging of an image around a product or a service. Sales is bringing the customer to an actual purchasing decision. The two elements work hand-in-hand and the accomplished travel professional will be adept at both.
The best sales approach is like the eastern concept of Zen: it is the art of selling without selling. Think of yourself as a facilitator. You are assisting your client in achieving what they most desire out of travel. You are not selling your client a cruise – you are assisting your client in the conception, planning and execution of a cruise vacation using the resources you have at hand and are trained to use. You are assisting your client to be a smarter consumer, to make informed buying decisions.
People do not travel for the following reasons: time, money, family constraints, ignorance and fear. When you view yourself as a facilitator of the client’s desires rather than as selling a product, you move to the client’s side of the table in the process. It is your task as a professional to assist the client in the removal of any or all of the obstacles to travel. Once you have done so, you will find your client with bag packed and one foot out the door!