Most successful business people will humbly admit that luck had a great deal to do with their success. However, those same business people are just as likely to tell you that they were exceptionally prepared for luck to happen. Smart travel agents train themselves to spot opportunities and recognize that marketing is a continual exercise in awareness. It is a part of the “marketing mindset” to know when opportunity is presenting itself.
I spoke to a travel agent once who was preparing to escort a cruise group of piano enthusiasts. I asked him how he had managed to put together such an unusual group. The agent, I’ll call him “William”, said that the group resulted from a chance conversation he had with the publisher of a piano magazine. They were both at breakfast in a hotel and William struck up a conversation with a stranger. The publisher said this, William said that, and soon a cruise group was forming.
That William is one lucky guy. Read the rest of this entry »
We have all heard that “It’s who you know that counts.” While that aphorism is certainly not the whole of marketing, your range of acquaintances is very important to your public relations efforts. After all, the term “public relations” itself indicates a relationship with the public! Having a large network of people that you can reach out and communicate with on any given project is a potent arrow in your quiver. It’s a good idea to begin cultivating some new relationships and renewing some old ones. Read the rest of this entry »
Reason # 3: Travel consulting is a people business. The more people you meet and know, the more opportunity you have to grow your business. It really is that simple. Yet, many travel agents shy away from the fundamentals of good solid marketing basics – networking, word of mouth and public relations. The tactics that make up these three marketing strategies are absolutely key to growing most travel consulting businesses. Your task is to create an association in the minds of the people you meet – when they think of travel, they think of you. Networking, word of mouth and public relations are the way you create, amplify and increase the strength of that association.
This is not to say that there are not other marketing strategies that will pay real dividends. But almost all other marketing strategies are extensions of these three basic tactical arrays. Social marketing, for example, Read the rest of this entry »
Travel consulting is a people business, and in the end, it’s all about who you know. As our good friend Mike Marchev will remind us on occasion, it’s also about how many “who’s” you know. An important component of building a successful travel practice is the network of people with whom you come into contact. Although your own circle of influence may be small, it grows exponentially because your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, and co-workers all have circles of influence into which you can market. These relationships provide opportunities to introduce your practice to people with whom you might otherwise not come into contact. Read the rest of this entry »
A key objective of strategic networking is assuring a flow of new clients through the door. Retention of your existing clients is absolutely necessary and challenging in and of itself, but the acquisition of new clients provides for growth. If you are not taking measures to acquire new clients, attrition of your existing base will mean your business will decline over time. “Filling the pipeline” is the phrase often used to describe the strategy of continually developing new contacts for your business.
Most travel planners use a variety of tactics to acquire new clients. Certainly referrals a big part of keeping the pipeline full, as are your networking activities, speaking opportunities and advertising. Periodically, however, those tactics need to be re-examined, organized and supplemented with new ones. Networking is one of the best ways to market locally in your community; it is also one of the most underutilized Read the rest of this entry »
Not all networking takes place at events or in a formal setting. Networking consists of telling everyone you know, and everyone you come into contact with, something about your business in a professional, one-on-one context. Everyone in your “circle of influence” should know that you are a travel agent. Discipline yourself each and every day to speak to a potential client about travel. In this way, your business grows as your circle of influence grows.
By intentionally networking in this way, you can create increasingly large circles of influence. For example, perhaps one of your clients, an accountant, wants to travel, but he doesn’t have anyone to watch his pets. There is a young woman in your neighborhood that has a pet watching service, but she has never traveled with you (and she is not sure if she needs to pay sales taxes). Is there an opportunity here? Very likely so! Read the rest of this entry »
The reason it’s called “networking” is that there is work involved! Networking, to be successful, is more than joining organizations, attending events and meeting people. For networking to be a strong tactic in building your travel planning business, concerted planning and on-going effort are key ingredients to add to the mix. Networking without a good set of planned objectives can work, but more often will not yield the results that a stronger effort would produce.
Have a well-defined set of goals and tactics that, combined, form a networking strategy. Decide early on in your networking planning how much time you will devote to networking and even how many new clients you hope to achieve. Determine the demographic of the core clients Read the rest of this entry »
Almost without exception, your community will provide many more opportunities for networking than you could actually attend or utilize. Most travel agents that are expert at networking activities confine themselves to a choice few venues where they feel confident of obtaining the greatest benefit both for themselves and for others. Further, not every event is an appropriate networking venue. It is important to emphasize again that networking relationships flow two directions – you get out of the process what you put into it. If you are perceived as being a “taker” and not a “giver” Read the rest of this entry »
Networking, the art of generating new clients through social and business contacts, is easier for some travel agents than others. Extroverts have it made – meeting and talking with others at social functions, volunteer opportunities and community gatherings is a cinch to some outgoing souls. Others find socializing a bit more difficult, however. Regardless of our personality type, taking the time to meet new people, outside of the confines of your home or office, is a key tactic for any marketing strategy. Indeed, widening your “sphere of influence” is an absolutely crucial component to growing a business. Read the rest of this entry »
Travel is a crowded field, and it is hard at times to be noticed. Or is it? This week we are going to look at five tactics to raising the visibility of your travel agency’s profile in your local market. Each of the techniques we are going to review will center around one or more marketing concepts that we have discussed many times in The 365 Guide. Each will be relatively inexpensive to implement but, as always, will require a commitment of time and energy. The pay-off, however, will be a greater brand recognition in your community. When people think of travel, they will be more likely to remember you and your agency. Read the rest of this entry »
This week we have looked at the process of networking for business from a slightly more advanced perspective. Let’s now look at the mistakes people often make in their networking efforts. Much of this effort is simply the converse of what we have already indicated this week, but I want to drill home the importance of business networking and of doing it correctly! Read the rest of this entry »
Some travel professionals are natural extroverts and have no problem mixing in a group and participating in conversation. At the other end of the spectrum are the functional introverts, like myself, who are good listeners, but for whom gatherings of more than three people start to feel claustrophobic! Both groups and everyone between, however, would do well to spend just a bit of time considering how to best hone their conversational skills and planning aspects of their networking strategy as it pertains to mixing at networking events.
Prior to attending, spend some time researching the context of the gathering. If it is a business group, research and study local business issues. If it is an open house at an animal shelter, you are hopefully there because you first love animals and secondly have a few animal stories to share. Read the rest of this entry »
So far this week we have established i) networking is work; ii) it works best when you are authentic and interested in the needs of others; and iii) networking is most effective when you approach it with a well-defined plan. Now let’s look at some specific strategies you can use to amplify your networking efforts in your local community.
Firstly, target people who can increase your circle of influence. For example, if our networking efforts introduce us to a local newspaper reporter, then we have also enhanced our prospects for better public relations efforts, right? Read the rest of this entry »
As business people, we too often treat networking opportunities like parties: we attend and participate with no plan. While a haphazard approach might yield some result, a more studied strategy is the better choice. Having goals associated with your networking effort, executing strategies and tactics conducive to achieving real business objectives can pay off in ways merely “socializing” will not.
Yesterday I indicated the importance of choosing an appropriate venue for your networking. Finding events and opportunities in which you are comfortable and interested helps to assure you are authentic in your approach and a good first step in planning a networking strategy. We also discussed the real need to put your business persona in the background and to involve yourself from a position of being willing to assist others achieve their objectives. Read the rest of this entry »
This week we want to go a bit deeper into our examination of how to network in your community. We are going to address your physical community this week, the one you find just outside your door. We will leave networking digitally for another time, but the principles below work equally well in both worlds. You might want to consider quickly reviewing our previous articles on networking to cover the basics.
Give some consideration to this simple principle: we are more likely to give assistance to people who appear equally eager to assist us in our efforts. The essence of networking is, at heart, the promise of partnership. For that reason, it is not enough to let others know about our own business and our personal needs. Read the rest of this entry »
In the end, it’s all about who you know. An important component of building a successful travel practice is the network of people with whom you come into contact. Although your own circle of influence may be small, it grows exponentially because your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, and co-workers all have circles of influence into which you can market. These relationships provide opportunities to introduce your practice to people with whom you might otherwise not come into contact.
An important component of building a successful travel practice is the network of people with whom you come into contact. Although your own circle of influence may be small, it grows exponentially because your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, and co-workers all have circles of influence into which you can market. These relationships provide opportunities to introduce your practice to people with whom you might otherwise not come into contact. Networking is an almost essential element for most traditional travel agents, and an important skill to undertake and develop. There may be no more basic, fundamental marketing skill than networking. Read the rest of this entry »
One thing is perfectly clear – travel agents love social media. At any travel trade show, the social media panels are packed. Hold a social media webinar and it’s a record crowd of travel agents that show up. It seems everyone has a Facebook or Twitter account, and a good part of everyday is spent pumping content into the social media funnel.
There are even some great success stories. Last week, travel agent Denyse Turner related her own experiences which include “15 group cruises, 5 individual cruises and more vacation packages than [she] can handle alone“. That is tremendous success and there are many more stories beginning to come in attesting to the power of social media as a marketing tactic.
Here’s the problem. Denyse makes it look easy. Agents are flocking to social media because of her story and others like it, much the same way that people charged across the North American continent in 1849 looking for gold.
Not everyone will get rich. However, a lot more travel agents could if they Read the rest of this entry »