This week we have been reviewing key elements of your business to ensure that we are tuned up for the rest of the year. Now, let’s make sure that we are aware of two key market concerns: competition and customer satisfaction. These two areas will influence the direction your strategies take as you design and later implement your objectives. Your goals may be influenced by each. Understanding each of these market factors will help you to better prepare for the upcoming year.
First, let’s do a survey of your competition. Broadly speaking, your competition is going to be comprised of local travel agencies, online travel agencies and direct bookings. By detailing not only where your competition is advertising, but also the type of content they are offering, you can get a better sense of how to position you own travel practice in your market. Spend time going through the process of closely examining the advertising of your competitors to determine the product mix and qualities in an agency that they, rightly or wrongly, deem important.
Use your analysis of the competition to assist with positioning yourself in the market. Are the other agencies in town competing based on price? What are they offering clients with regard to services, education and consultation? Are there niche markets not being serviced? Where is the competition advertising? What can you learn from their ads? How can you stand apart from the crowd?
Next, print off a copy of the Customer Satisfaction Worksheet. This survey gets to the reality of how well you have been meeting your clients’ expectations. Use our template as a basis for creating your own client survey, customized to your agency and practice. You may have periodically done your own surveys or otherwise have queried your clients on your performance. Knowing with some degree of precision how you are perceived by your clients is absolutely invaluable. Where you find weaknesses, you can shore up your performance. This is also a great opportunity to ask for testimonials and referrals, which will be a part of your overall marketing plan.
Print off the Customer Satisfaction Worksheet. Customize it and provide it to your clients, explaining it is your effort at enhancing their travel experience and providing excellent customer service. Collate the responses and look for patterns of either praise or criticism. Remain objective and try to determine how you can best enhance your services to remedy any weaknesses.
Now, relate the results of your competitive and customer surveys to your Goals and Objectives. Have these exercises given you any additional ideas for goals? Can you use the results to better target markets, to improve your customer relations or to take advantage of opportunities?
For the Competition Survey, gather together local advertising in a variety of media including newspapers, local magazines and online. Obtain a copy of the local yellow pages and any other well-known media to support your research. Look at online agencies and note what they emphasize as their strengths. Where can you surpass their offerings? What can you offer in terms of customer service that they can not?
Determine what you like that others are offering, and observe where your competition fails to distinguish themselves. Note the products and destinations offered, and not the degree to which personal service is a key offering.
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