We are devoting this week to the concept of branding your travel agency. As we indicated in yesterday’s column, branding sets up expectations of a unique value in the mind of the client. If you have clearly articulated a brand message in all of your communications tools, those consumers coming into contact with your brand will have expectations of what it will be like to do business with you.
Your brand integrates every aspect of your business where clients come into contact with the company. For that reason, maintaining your brand is a continual process of interaction, feedback and adjustment. If any aspect of a client’s experience with your company does not meet the expectations that you set up in your brand marketing, maintenance is required. Brand consistency throughout your organization reinforces your message and creates the right atmosphere for your travel practice to grow and prosper.
Branding goes well beyond your outbound marketing efforts – it begins with your internal alignment of core values with your actions. Whether you are a one-person shop or a 100 Million dollar agency, you should have a program in place to ensure brand consistency. Communicate your brand positioning internally and see that it is consistent through your mission statement, your values and corporate identity. Establish brand guidelines for everyone to adhere and train your employees and co-workers in customer service skills couched in the context of your brand. Make sure that every piece of collateral carries a consistent message that resonates with your brand strategy.
Monitoring social media is an excellent way of keeping track of the perceptions of your brand. When consumers mention your company on Twitter, Facebook or in an online forum, your brand image is being shaped.
Elicit client feedback and use both positive and negative comments as a way to monitor how well you are meeting the expectations set by your brand strategy. When clients have concerns, address them openly in the context of maintaining your company’s brand image. Periodically step back from the day to day activities of your business and reflect on the feedback you are receiving. Monitor how well the experiences of your client are synchronizing with your brand message.
Don’t accept silence as a positive indicator. The worst feedback possible is silence. Ask for input, expect to receive both the good and the bad, then be prepared to act on it.
Tomorrow – Branding Yourself