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 »
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 »
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! 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 »
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.
Annually a company needs to be reminded of the need for a SWOT analysis. The SWOT acronym indicates Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The traditional SWOT looks at Strengths and Weaknesses of a business (internal factors) and tries to thereby ascertain the relationship with Opportunities and Threats (factors external to the agency). Doing an annual SWOT analysis is a good pre-requisite to a marketing plan and assists with developing the appropriate goals for your travel practice.
Generally speaking, your travel practice has certain strengths that justify its existence. These strengths give rise to opportunities that your competition may not be able to challenge. On the other hand, your agency probably has weaknesses that provide an opening to your competition where they are better capable than you of taking advantage of the market. A SWOT Analysis makes each of these factors clear and provides a guideline for approaching each in your planning. Our SWOT Analysis Worksheet will assist you in performing your own analysis. Read the rest of this entry »
Who are you? Why are you here?
Can you tell clients the answer to those questions without hesitation? Do you have a mission statement? Can you recite it in a meaningful, authentic way? Do you have an answer to the question: “Can you beat this internet deal I found”?
Who are you? Why are you here? Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Last week, my domains renewed. I own probably 80 domains and typically buy them through GoDaddy. While they are not my hosting provider, they are good for domain acquisition which usually comes after a cockamamie idea in the middle of the night. Anyhow, the bill processed through my bank account and it seemed that it was very high. I explored a bit and found the issue.
With some of my parked domains, they added a “Get Your Business Found” package for $119 per domain. Well, since those domains were not businesses, and I was not interested in getting them “found,” I made a call to GoDaddy. Inside of about four minutes, it was resolved and a credit was being processed. Apparently I had missed an email for this new great product that would be added to my account. Read the rest of this entry »
This past month, the goal was to gain some clarity on my objective, service, and message. It’s actually harder than it seems! After much wrangling and really focusing on the language for a mission statement, it’s absolutely going to become the foundation for how I currently do business and guide my future growth. Looking back, I wish I had done this much sooner! It is never too late, and I feel that creating a clear emphatic statement in writing to guide any business can only be helpful. 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 »