My last diary entry— I found myself doing a 6 month checkup to see where I have been, where I am going and where I need to be. Writing for the diairies has allowed me to take a long, hard look at myself and my business; and it has not been easy. The hardest thing for me is to admit something isn’t working and to change it. Change is hard. I am they type of person that likes the status quo. But, in order to be a better travel professional and improve my business, change is a necessity.
The first order of business is to review my message. A marketing professor once told me the message you want to get across and how you want your business to be perceived are very important. What message do I want to get across to perspective clients? Do I want to attract the bargain shoppers or those who are looking for value? What’s the difference? Value is the big buzz word in today’s economy. But, what does it mean? Bargain shoppers are just that—shoppers. They are looking for the lowest price. Period. We all know bargain shoppers. They are the ones who will check every online site known to man and then call us to see what our price is. They are the ones demanding price matches and, if given the opportunity, will suck the life right out of us. In the end, they are not loyal. They will move on to the next website or agent that offers them a fifty cent discount. Value on the other hand isn’t necessarily about price. Consumers are looking for more meaning in their lives and the emotional desire to be connected. This brings me back to my message. My tag line has been changed to “Champagne experiences for discerning clientele.” It’s all about the experience. My website is in the process of being changed, updated and tweaked to reflect my new message and the value I bring to clients. My business cards and marketing material are being scrutinized and I am looking at updating them as well. I am demonstrating what I bring to the table in terms of value and how I do it differently. What I can do better. It’s not easy but the end result will be worth it.
The second thing I am doing is concentrating on my niche. This goes hand in hand with the message I am trying to convey. I am choosing relationships with vendors and other service businesses that can help me maximize my message and help to cross promote my business. I am looking at my relationship with my host. Is it working for me? Should I go totally on my own or will I benefit from having a host relationship? Is there another alternative where my business will benefit? These are all tough questions, and now is a great time to assess my relationships and my needs.
I am taking a long, hard look at my database and how I can best maximize it. What can I do to improve my marketing to my current clients? What can I do to keep my clients from booking elsewhere?
Lastly, I have booked my first wine tour. I have found a great partner who does customized wine tours. His values are very similar to mine in what he offers clients. In addition, he is a nice person to work with. I look forward to a long and happy partnership with him. Things are falling into place and I look forward to the next 6 months and beyond.
Mary Stephan is the President of Allons Travel based in Powell, OH. For more information, you can contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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