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Consider the Business Card

They get no respect. They are used for note taking and for bookmarking. Too often, they are an after-thought ordered at the last minute with little care put into their design. But business cards are important marketing tools, small paper ambassadors for your business that remain in the field constantly reminding others of your brand. It is highly likely that of all the advertising and marketing collateral you produce and use, your business card is the one piece that will be encountered and read by the most people.

Perhaps it is difficult to wax poetic about business cards, but they are important to you business. Given the size and cost, it is hard to imagine a more cost-effective tool. Business cards are your surrogate self, your persona…a stand-in, and just as with your personal appearance, first impressions count. Take care in selecting the design of your card. In the travel industry you have a wide range of options, from formal business cards to highly creative dual purpose cards that are also magnets or other novelty. Spend time examining other business cards and choose a design that you like. Let the card reflect the personality of your business, the “archetype” that defines the character of your travel practice. Take the cards you like best with you to the printer – they see a lot of cards and chances are good that the printer will have other samples and ideas for you to consider.

By all means, avoid perforated business cards that are printed on a home printer, and do not compound the error by using clip art: “do it yourself” IS NOT a message that travel agents want to convey to the public. Have a professional design your logo and have a printer produce the card on quality paper. If you have an advanced certification, put it on the card. If you belong to an industry organization, put it on the card. Make sure the card clearly establishes you as a travel agent either through your company name or a tag line. Make sure your email address and company web site, if you have one, are listed on the card along with your phone number. List your cell phone only if you are willing to answer it at all times in a professional manner.

Finally, order in a quantity sufficient to spread them liberally. Have your cards with you at all times. Keep extras in your day planner and briefcase. Hand them out to everyone you meet in a business context. Give extras to good clients to provide to others as a referral. Place them in letters that you write.

The future of your travel planning practice may well be in the cards.