Do your clients know why they do business with your travel agency? Do they have a clear picture in their minds of what your travel practice represents? How about you as a travel agent conducting your own travel practice either as an employee in an organization or as an owner of your travel agency? Can you list your top two or three unique selling points? What type of relationship do you have with your clients? How is that relationship reflected in the conversations you have with clients, your advertisements, your website and your other marketing efforts? The answers to each of these questions goes to the heart of your company’s reason for being. To the extent you can easily answer these questions you are farther down the path to authentic marketing – business conducted from a principled set of core values and client relationships built on trust.
A travel professional true to a core set of values has an easier time defining herself to the community. The travel agency’s marketing collateral, newsletters and blogs, once in alignment with those core values, more clearly communicate with clients and potential clients. The community perceives the travel agent with a strong mission statement as more “real” – more authentic. The public is increasingly adept at determining when a company is truly authentic and when it is merely veneered. An authentic company will have a compass, and its efforts will reflect the direction of its ownership.
Authentic companies set expectations and provide a framework in which those expectations will be fulfilled. Early in the relationship with its clients, the authentic travel agency will outline the mutual responsibilities of both agency and traveler, and will operate within those parameters. Because the central mission of the agency is well articulated, and because the mutual responsibilities are clear, problems tend to be more easily observed in advance and solved more quickly at their source.
But what does it take to be authentic? Don’t most companies claim to deliver “real” results and “real” value? Don’t most companies claim to be unique in their market segment. Yes, most companies make these claims – which is precisely why the public tends to be very skeptical of such promises.
This week we will speak to authenticity. How to ground your travel agency in a core set of values, how to communicate and maintain those values, and how to systematically put them into place internally and in your marketing efforts.