Last week, I discussed the different organizations that may (or may not) advocate on your behalf in the travel industry. And towards the end of the column, I mentioned that you are truly the only person who has the vested interest in shouting your accolades from the rooftops. But many travel professionals seem to have some difficulty with that and I am not sure why. I have heard dozens of excuses as to why agents will not brag a little, but here are the top three.
We are professionals
Congratulations! We all are. Some agents have said they have positioned themselves as peers to accountants, attorneys, financial planners and physicians. Well, we are not accountants, physicians or attorneys. Very few of us charge hundreds of dollars an hour for a consultation and there is no minimal education or training requirement for entry into the travel business (a worthy topic of discussion later). But to think that these professionals do not market themselves is a fallacy. All you have to do is pick up any “city” type magazine and you will see that dentists, financial planners, and many other “professionals” are indeed marketing themselves and advertising! Don’t’ kid yourself; very few businesses in any industry can survive on referrals alone. For a lot of great tips visit the TRO 365 Guide—often.
I don’t do social media
Why not? I understand that you may not get it. I understand that you may have an adverse opinion of it. However, when ONE BILLION people use just one platform in a month, how can you ignore it? You don’t even need to embrace it, but you need to be in the swimming pool. Not being there is like taking your sign down and deleting your name and logo from all of your collateral. Do you have a website? Do you remember back in the 90s when everyone told you to must have a web presence? It is the same thing now in the 2010s with social media. Time spent learning the tools available will be time well spent. But be sure that you are participating in the same platforms as your customers.
I’m not really sure what they want
Times change. People change. If you are not always asking questions, you may find yourself on the bad side of change. Talk to your customers, ask them questions. How do they want to hear from you? When do they want to hear from you? What message do they want to hear? Do they want to see more of you? Less of you? What types of trips do they want—cruises…land based…cheapo weekend trips…drive trips…space tourism? Don’t risk your business (or as Mike Marchev likes to say, your food) on non-educated guesses. From my experience, we are the worst predictors of client behavior. My agency, Single Parent Travel, always focused on low budget, affordable group vacations. It made sense–it was my demographic. Until one year I saw a significant reduction in participation in one annual trip. I called up someone who had been a repeat client and she told me they decided to go to a more upscale (much more upscale) property on their own. Similarly, when I saw a drop in website traffic, I sent out a survey. Here I discovered that my clients were more interested in reading non-travel content (personal experiences, and discussion of topics of interest to single parents), than how great this special was or how awesome that trip was going to be. They told me they know where to find the trips and trust our judgment, but were not interested in being “sold” on every visit. As a result, we feature the trips as featured content, but our blog and fresh content has very little travel. As to our drop in traffic, we recovered an actually increased it 22% the following year.
Go on! Get out there! Shout your name and what you do from the rooftops. If you are ashamed of what you do or if you find yourself apologizing for your career—maybe it is time to re-think that career. If no one knows what you do, you will never make a sale. That, you can take to the bank!