A company’s USP is its Unique Selling Point – something that makes it different from all other companies of its type. Is there something about your business that is so unique that customers would do business with you based on that one quality alone? If so, you have located your USP and are on the way to better understanding how to build a smart marketing campaign based on that uniqueness. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the best aspects of being a travel professional is the fact the suppliers in the travel industry want you to succeed. Most suppliers know the value of travel professionals and their unique capacity to move a portion of the supplier’s inventory. What better sales force than one paid only when they make a sale? What tour operator or cruise line would not want an army of sales people knowledgeable about and capable of expertly representing their product? Such suppliers recognize that the best partnerships are not zero-sum games but an opportunity for the parties to each achieve their desired aims. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the best approaches to a Blue Ocean Strategy is to first locate a niche market and then to develop within the niche new value innovations. A great advantage of a niche market is the way in which it helps you locate potential clients. When you are marketing general travel, everyone is your potential market and you lack focus. But when your market is better defined, e.g. “golfers”, you know where to find them. Once you have located your market, it is much less costly to reach out to them as opposed to using much less efficient “shotgun” approaches.
In addition, when you focus on a niche, you very quickly become an expert. You will be able to speak with authority on your topic and marketing will be a matter of speaking directly to those who share an affinity for your niche. As an expert in a niche, your ability to generate referrals and word of mouth advertising will be amplified as those who have used you in the past tell others interested in similar travel experiences. You will also develop deeper and richer relationships with the suppliers that you use as they come to understand your devotion to their area of business. Read the rest of this entry »
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. Read the rest of this entry »
This week we are playing with Blue Ocean Strategies. I say “playing” because there is a very creative, imaginative side to the exercise. At the heart of every Blue Ocean Strategy is a leap of value so large as to leave competition behind. While other agencies are hand delivering documents and ordering bottles of wine and as “value ads,” your clients will be traveling down the Autobahn of your own turbo-charged vision. But here is an important point – just as the trip itself is customized for the traveler, so too are your value innovations. Ultimately, it is your client who determines what is valuable and you must know and understand their sensibilities to launch into the creative exercise of bringing those sensibilities to reality. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, this column devoted time to the theory known as Blue Ocean Strategies wherein the travel consultant is able to forget the competition and is, in fact, able to operate competition free! The Blue Ocean travel planner accomplishes this minor miracle by sailing into Blue Oceans where no competition even exists. By re-imagining the experience of travel and by focusing on the client rather than on the travel product, the Blue Ocean travel planner creates an experience so unique as to be without competition.
This week, we are going to follow up our theoretical discussions with five examples of Blue Ocean strategy in practice. In each example, we are going to follow the pattern we laid out in our Mountain Biking Cruise example. In each instance, we will focus on creating a leap in value so extraordinary, no other travel agency can compete. Read the rest of this entry »
This article is Part 5 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for the rest of the series.
One of the clear aspects of a red ocean market is the vast majority of participants are engaged in very similar activities. Certainly this is true in the travel industry. Most travel agents accept the general definitions and structures of the industry and then focus on incremental improvements in service or product knowledge to be “the best” at what they do. As a result, travel agents too often find themselves in a competitive battle where the most important factor in the purchasing decision is price.
The secret to blue ocean strategy is to break through conventional thinking. The improvements in value to the customer cannot be incremental, but must be a true leap that leaves the competition behind. Blue ocean strategy is not a process of predicting upcoming travel trends or generating new “marketing” ideas. Read the rest of this entry »
This article is Part 4 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for earlier articles in the series.
In Blue Ocean Strategy, authors Kim and Mauborgne identify the elements of a strong blue ocean program as focus, divergence and, interestingly, a strong tag line. Without these characteristics a company’s strategy will be unclear and hard to communicate. Let’s look at each in turn as we attempt to determine how a travel agency might incorporate blue ocean thinking as the core philosophy of their practice.
Focus indicates that the strategy hones in on key elements. Divergence indicates those key elements differ from the elements on which other similar players in the market focus. The strong tag line indicates the clarity of vision and the ease with which the company’s mission can be articulated and communicated. Read the rest of this entry »
This article is Part 3 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for Parts 1 and 2.
In yesterday’s example, we created a biking event that evidenced blue ocean strategy. As a result, our travel package could operate without competition. Our biking program offered the participants the opportunity to pursue their biking passion in a series of exotic countries over a period of days, something many of the participants would not have ever thought about or even thought possible. We accomplished this neat trick by transporting our bikers from country to country aboard a cruise ship sailing the Caribbean.
However, I ask you, is it enough? Is a single instance of a biking event, or any similar blue ocean event, where you want your practice to be? Perhaps. Some good entrepreneur could build an entire business around such a program. Many of us, however, would want more. We want a varied travel practice not confined to a single destination or activity but to a relationship with clients. Is it possible to build an entire travel practice Read the rest of this entry »
This article is Part 2 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for Part 1.
The authors of Blue Ocean Strategy point out participants in red ocean markets all follow a conventional approach. Everyone more or less does things the same way. As the markets become more crowded, competition increases, prices are cut and margins fall. Costs go up. Soon, the only differentiator is price. Well educated consumers no longer need the expertise that distinguished the early markets.
Authors Kim and Mauborgne place the concept of “Value Innovation” as the cornerstone of Blue Ocean Strategy. 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. Read the rest of this entry »
This week, the 365 Guide is going to re-visit our series on Blue Ocean Strategies. Next week, we are going to use what we have learned to develop five marketing campaigns that beat the competition by eliminating all competition.
The competition is everywhere: other travel agents, the big online agencies, suppliers selling direct. All about you, sharks swim and the water is red with blood. Everyone is after the same clients, and you want your share. So you circle with the pack, waiting for another traveler to drop into the water. You hone your competitive advantages, distinguish yourself from the competition and wait.
But just over the horizon is a vast blue ocean. Not but a few miles off-shore, hard as it may be to believe, there is no competition. There is an entire blue ocean of uncontested market space. Is that even possible? Read the rest of this entry »