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Posted In: The 365 Guide

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.

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Posted In: Publishers Corner

Take Ownership of Your Brand and Mission

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 »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

5 Words to Jump Start 2014 – Mission

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 »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

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 »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

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 »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

Looking for extra income or just something to do while business was slow, travel advisors have expanded beyond their usual routines into new avenues—both inside the business and out.

At My Path Unwinding Travel in Waxhaw, NC, for example, Karen Shelton noticed that 11 of the 12 customers in her Disney Wonder group had booked suites—and decided to promote an all-suite group on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas for the first time, so customers can compare the two.

“I’m super excited about this,” says Shelton, whose specialty has traditionally been Disney concierge-level suites. “I booked the Royal Suite for myself and got the ball rolling.”

The numbers are still coming in, she says Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Core Values

Do you know why your clients do business with your travel agency? Do they have a clear picture in their minds of what your travel practice represents? What type of relationship do you try to develop with your clients? How are your relationships reflected in the conversations you have with clients, your advertisements, your website and your other marketing efforts? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Knowing and Doing

We have a strange relationship with what we know. We know we should have a written business plan, and we know we should have a written budget. We know we should have a mission statement. We know we should always offer travel insurance to our clients or get a waiver.

When we hear best practices, or even the general principles of marketing, sales, and customer service, seldom are we surprised. Good business advice is not often a revelation, but a matter of common sense, reminding us of what we already know.

Moving from “I know” to “I always do” can be a major undertaking. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Message in a Bottle

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 »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Ready, Fire… Aim!

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 »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Southwest & Delta are Doing It Right!

 

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 Ideal Sales Strategy

 

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 »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

The Emerald Touch of Enterprise

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 »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Campaign Season

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 »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Branding Your Travel Agency: Can You See Me Now?

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 »

Posted In: Soundings

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 »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Dressed for success: sales collateral

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 »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Content Marketing

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 »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

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.

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