If you have been reading The 365 Guide for any length of time, you know that I feel the concept of a Mission Statement is important for a travel agent to understand and employ. A mission statement is a clear and succinct statement of the aspirations of a travel agent as those aspirations relate to clients. Underneath the mission statement is a set of core values that are important to the agent. The moral and ethical underpinnings of the agent, their way of relating to clients, their expectations of performance are all encapsulated in a single statement. It’s a statement to the world of the principles for which the travel agent stands. Below, you will find tools to help you build your own. Bonus -it will be the foundation for your 2014 marketing plan.
Let’s state definitively we are all the owners of our own brand, our own “company” called “me, myself and I”. This was the insight of Tom Peter’s famous 1997 article “The Brand Called You.” The success of social media platforms like Linkedin was largely presaged by the notion of the individual as a brand. With that in mind, we need to consider how we promote and monitor our individual brands. Read the rest of this entry »
If you have been reading The 365 Guide for any length of time, you know that I feel the concept of a Mission Statement is important for a travel agent to understand and employ. A mission statement is a clear and succinct statement of the aspirations of a travel agent as those aspirations relate to clients. Underneath the mission statement is a set of core values that are important to the agent. The moral and ethical underpinnings of the agent, their way of relating to clients, their expectations of performance are all encapsulated in a single statement. It’s a statement to the world of the principles for which the travel agent stands. Below, you will find tools to help you build your own. Bonus -it will be the foundation for your 2014 marketing plan. Read the rest of this entry »
Travel agents can surround themselves with all of the accoutrements of a travel planning practice, with plenty of supplier product and subscriptions to periodicals, memberships in consortia and posters on the wall. But unless a travel consultant also develops a solid sense of their own brand, they will forever struggle to market themselves appropriately.
Every travel agent needs a unique selling point (USP) that differentiates them from the competition. The unique selling point may be the agent’s familiarity with a destination or a theme, it could be the agents’ contacts, tenacity, enthusiasm or passion. The travel agent’s USP might be some business practice that in some way ensures the success of their travel planning activities for clients. Read the rest of this entry »
It amazes me when Independent Contractors (IC) expect 100% commissions from a Host Agency. I’m even more flabbergasted when an IC is surprised to discover that their Host has defaulted on those same commission obligations. Eventually the IC learns that 100% of zero equals $0.00.
I spoke with a concerned agent last week. He was dismayed that his Host Agency had defaulted on their commission sharing arrangement. His prior Host Agency was supposed to pay him 100% of the supplier’s commission. He thought the “100% Host Agency” could make up for the loss by doing more business! Now it appeared that the “100% Host Agency” had run out of money and couldn’t afford to remit the agent any of his earned commissions. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m thinking about containers and contents lately. We all love great containers. Last year, I went to a local shop and purchased a new hummingbird feeder crafted by an artist somewhere near Asheville. Instead of the plastic parts found on a standard retail feeder, this one has a very unique red bottle as a container. It is decorated with copper tubing from which the hummingbird drinks and metal flowers are soldered onto the copper. It is a real work of art, and I enjoy it tremendously.
I’m pretty sure the hummingbirds, however, care more about the content in the bottle. If I put something less to their liking in the bottle, it doesn’t matter how attractive the container. Not only will they not drink from it, they will eventually quit coming to that particular bottle. Birds are quick learners. Read the rest of this entry »
There is absolutely no doubt that a failure to plan is one of the biggest mistakes many business people make. Without a solid business plan, even the best travel consultant can fail to act consistently in any given aspect of their practice. Planning is truly essential.
But so is action.
I see far too many travel professionals planning their lives away, getting ready to act, and then… not acting! In the time of Covid-19, the problem can induce a near paralytic state. Too many times we over-plan and over-perfect, and in the process lose valuable opportunities to others who are quicker to act. Read the rest of this entry »
Southwest Airlines & Delta have been leading the way in keeping middle airline seats empty. Southwest has committed to it until at least November 30, and Delta has made the same promise until January 6. Both airlines have also committed to reducing capacity in the forward cabins by keeping additional seats empty. In contrast, other airlines are cancelling some flights to try to fill their remaining flights.
No one is challenging the fact that leaving middle seats empty, and reducing passenger capacity in the forward cabins, is significantly safer. Their complaint is the revenue they lose. Read the rest of this entry »
The state was New Mexico. The time was a few years back. The place, an automobile dealership.
I was invited to share a few of my ideas and proven selling tactics to a room full of professional salespeople. Their monthly sales goal was to sell 300 cars every month. (Every month.) This simply means that I was not speaking to a room full of amateurs.
What caught my attention was that every person in the room carried a gold coin in their pocket, reminding them that they were the best in the business. Their one-word mission statement was Loyalty. Read the rest of this entry »
Enterprise Holdings Inc. has been the largest vehicle rental companies in the world for quite some time now. Enterprise Holdings offers travelers three great car rental brands. Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental are internationally recognized brands with an extensive global car rental network. Read the rest of this entry »
How do you make your travel practice known to the public? If you are like most travel professionals, you rely on a number of tactics to raise your visibility. You may use social media, public relations, or content marketing through your website, email, and blogging efforts. You may take advantage of speaking opportunities or write for a local newspaper. You may advertise.
Inherently we know marketing works, because in our own civilian lives we ourselves respond to well-placed and produced marketing and advertising. We have less confidence in our own efforts, however. Read the rest of this entry »
Every travel agency seeks visibility in its marketplace. Through advertising, niche marketing, and solid networking, agency owners work to raise the profile of their travel practice above the crowd, so the public immediately associates the agency’s brand with the word “travel”. Creating an association strong enough to be top of mind anytime someone thinks of “travel” is no small feat but, especially on a community level, it is achievable. No doubt in your own community, there is at least one travel agency with more than its proportionate percentage of “mindshare” – people immediately think of that agency when they think of their next cruise or vacation. Read the rest of this entry »
If you want to get to the top of this profession, you have to stop worrying about yourself and start thinking about helping others. Sounds absurdly simple. It isn’t.
Your primary goal is to stop selling and to start helping others.
When you appear to be selling, more often than not you come across looking push and even a bit aggressive or manipulative. Nobody I know enjoys being “sold.” You? Read the rest of this entry »
There may be no better way to truly immerse yourself in a new destination than to befriend it through its history and food. Take a walk-through Old San Juan on a culinary walking tour to discover a world-class destination and one the second oldest European-founded city in the Americas. Read the rest of this entry »
Whether you are an agent in a storefront agency with a large group of travel professionals and business development specialists, or whether you are a sole proprietor, you have a team to assemble. You require a full family of sales collateral that carries a consistent look and message. Your logo, your company name, your business cards, your company brochure, your email address, web site, Powerpoint presentations, invoices, print and email advertising, sales letters and stationery are all team members that carry your company’s mission out into the world.
Just as we daily groom ourselves in a mirror, perhaps we should spend some time making sure our sales collateral is properly suited up to do its job. Each piece of collateral is a “point of contact” with the public and will shape how the public perceives the professionalism of your travel practice. Read the rest of this entry »
Every few years or so the phrase “Content is King” enjoys new popularity. What most surprises me is that content has ever lost its royal positioning in marketing. Why does it come as a surprise when we re-discover the importance of well-written, engaging content? That aside, what role does content play in your own efforts to market your travel practice? Read the rest of this entry »
If you want to get to the top of this profession, you have to stop worrying about selling and start thinking about helping. Sounds absurdly simple. It isn’t.
Your primary goal is to stop selling and to start helping others. Read the rest of this entry »
Every travel agent spending the least bit of time thinking about their travel agency website has heard the truism “Content is King.” I’m here to suggest, however, content is so much more than King, if by “King” you mean it is content bringing visitors to your website through basic search engine marketing. Indeed, it is relevant, original content responsible for most of the organic, (i.e. “free”), traffic visiting your site. However, merely getting visitors to your site is only a first step. In addition, to be successful you need to also entertain (the Jester) and please (the Queen) your visitors, or they will soon be off to find better content and digital turf on which to spend their time. The Knight – he’s the enforcer, the one who makes you write often and well and with great design on a consistent basis.
Let’s spend a bit of time at court.
How consistent is your marketing? In each instance where the public comes into contact with your company, the message they perceive must be the same. Whether they are meeting you in person, looking at your web site, reading your tweets or viewing an advertisement you have created, the essential ethic of the company must resonate. Without consistency, your clients and the public at large won’t understand your brand. When the consumer continually sees your travel practice presented with the same brand message, each iteration reinforces the last and has the effect of building a solid impression. Read the rest of this entry »
Loosely defined, our points of contact are those points at which a client can form an impression of our travel practice. Points of contact range from our logo and business cards, to our presentation formats, our manner of dress and even the places where we meet with clients. The sum total of our points of contact add up to form our professional image. The more professional our image, the more confidence clients have when it comes time to turn thousands of hard earned dollars over to us for their vacation. Needless to say, therefore, our points of contact must be kept in top condition. The reality, however, is we often create our points of contact independently of our mission statement and any guiding touch point and each becomes a separate marketing tool unrelated to the others or neglected after months of use. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Dunne, Business Development Manager for Sky Bird Travel & Tours, started in the travel industry thirty years ago. He has served on the board for both the Midwest Business Travel Association (now Chicago BTA), and Mississippi Valley ASTA; Michael was also a founding member of SITE Chicago. Often found sharing sales ideas and strategies with other travel agents, Michael is always ready to demonstrate Skybird Travel’s commitment to the travel agent community. Skybird participates in multiple tradeshows per year, and Michael uses these opportunities to mix with new agents while helping them develop their own business, and achieve success by teaching them how to utilize reputable air consolidators, like Skybird.