Authentic Marketing for Travel Agents – Communicating Core Values
Consumers look for authentic products and services that deliver on promises. It really is that simple. Except travel professionals sometimes promise the wrong things. They promise the lowest prices. They promise hassle-free travel. They promise across the board expertise. Sometimes the promises are implicit rather than explicit, but the travel agency either intentionally or by omission sets the expectations of the client. To the extent that those promises are met, the client is happy and the agency’s brand is secure. When the travel agency makes the wrong promises, however, reality falls short of expectations and problems ensue. The client does not perceive the travel agent as authentically representing their services.
Chances are, you do not intentionally make promises you cannot keep. However, much of the public operates with key misperceptions that embed the relationship with problems from the outset. The public does not always understand well what a travel agent does. Many assume that a travel agent’s role is to find the “lowest price” for a client. Many assume a travel agent works “for free.” It is little wonder that clients shop recommendations and often take research and book elsewhere when the relationship is governed my erroneous assumptions. There are two key areas where travel agents can help to assure that clients operate on a clear understanding of the relationship – marketing and client training. Today we will speak to marketing communications.
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Once an agency has decided on a set of core values and a mission statement, every marketing communication should be examined for alignment. Often, faulty language creeps into marketing materials and reinforces the client’s perception of the travel agency as a retail outlet. Pricing is emphasized. There is little or no mention of fees. When the tenor and tone of the relationship is not firmly established in the travel agency marketing collateral, the consumers walks into the relationship with his or her misperceptions intact.
In an earlier series of articles, we discussed why consumers mistrust travel agency advertising. We all tend to be a bit cynical when it comes to advertising and view it as inherently dishonest, manipulative and intrusive. Your travel agency’s marketing efforts need to avoid these pitfalls by speaking directly to the client, speaking to benefits and remaining in alignment with your core values. Do so, and your client relationships are on firm ground.