At the heart of Blue Ocean Strategy in a concept called Value Innovation – instead of an attempt to “beat” the competition at the game, a Blue Ocean Strategist will make the competition irrelevant by creating a value for the market that is a leap out of the red oceans. There will simply be no competition. There is another way of phrasing “value innovation” and in the past I’ve called it the “WOW Factor.” You get to WOW by fusing travel planning with an imaginative twist so creative as to surprise the client. The starting point for each such creative exercise is the client. Only the client is the real determinate of value. A client-centric approach, a high degree of client knowledge, is an absolute necessity to moving from ordinary travel planning to WOW travel planning.
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What if your travel practice involved the type of long-range planning more typically associated with financial planners? Instead of planning for retirement, however, your clients are planning for a lifetime of travel. Every one of your clients walks around with a list of places they “someday” want to visit. The Giza Pyramids, the Great Wall, Machu Picchu, and similar destinations are the components of many a bucket list. What if your specialty was bucket list travel planning, factored to the level of WOW by the extraordinary level of intimate client knowledge you possess?
Surprise your clients by honing in on their personal passions. The WOW factor is best generated by something unanticipated. WOW happens when the client does not expect the special favor. Think beyond the standard fare. A bottle of wine in a hotel room, a call during the trip, a special phone number where you can be reached – these are the norm for travel consultants. Yet, many travel consultants do no more for clients and boast of their great “customer service”! But knowing your client is a fan of old books and manuscripts and providing him with a list of antiquarian shops demonstrates your intimate knowledge of both the client and the destination. Knowing your client is a fan of murder mysteries and arranging a special “Jack the Ripper” walking tour in London demonstrates a client-centric understanding of client value.
You are looking for that special intersection of client desires and needs with the destination that WOWs.
Because the standard of customer service your clients typically encounter in commerce is so low, it actually does not take a lot to WOW them. WOW’ing clients is also about demonstrating enthusiasm for their travel plans. Your clients are excited about their opportunity to travel. Be excited with them! Demonstrate your willingness to do everything possible to ensure that their travel plans are complete and well-thought. Bring your expertise to bear and anticipate problem areas. Anticipate their needs long before they do. You have helped dozens of people this year plan their vacations. What have you learned? How can you put it to the service of the client in front of you now?
Understand that you don’t have to do any of these things. Your client doesn’t expect them. But if you don’t, someone else in that big Blue Ocean will!