A critical look at a travel trade show | Travel Research Online


A critical look at a travel trade show

Last week I attended the Home Based Travel Agent Forum in Atlantic City and had a fantastic time learning a bunch of new stuff, rehashing some old stuff, and connecting with new and old colleagues.  There is nothing like a trade show to re-invigorate you and your thought process. A common discussion over the three days centered around the question of “why?”  Why should a customer use you? Why did you get into the business?  One of the most popular answers was “because I am passionate about travel.”  I heard it time and time again and to be honest…that is the biggest cop out ever.  It is like a personal ad saying that they are either male or female!  For crying out loud, we are all passionate about travel and passion does not set us apart any more than the color of the doormat on our front step.

Another great line I heard when asked about why someone wanted to do business with a particular agent…”because I give great customer service.” Again, this is a huge cop out. Everyone gives great customer service—at least they say they do.  Have you ever gone to a store that promotes their mediocre or poor service?

The competition is tough out there. We are competing against ourselves, and against the customers who will give themselves great service. Unless you are your only customer, you are going to need to up your game a little bit.

When people ask me why I am in business, I tell them that as a single parent, traveling can be difficult at best and worse than miserable at worst. I love (ok, I’m passionate about) travel and know how enriching it can be for children of all ages, so I decided to do something about the inherent difficulties of traveling alone with kids.  Isn’t that a lot better than “I’m passionate about travel?”

When I am asked what sets me apart from others, I tell them that I offer a service that is not for everyone and to my knowledge I am the only agency specializing in meeting the travel needs of single parents.  There is no mention of my great customer service. The fact that I am in business, in a tough industry, during a recession, probably speaks to that. The weak will die; the strong will survive.

Don’t be like everyone else. Set yourself apart and stand out from the crowd. Take a few moments and figure out what truly sets you apart. Take some time and find out why you got in this crazy business.

If you need some help and some “no holds barred” critique, shoot me an email and I will try to help.

  7 thoughts on “A critical look at a travel trade show

  1. Christine says:

    Great message..got me thinking of why am I in the industry..of course I have also said those phrases you mentioned. But now that I have read your article. I am going to rephrase why I am in the industry. I am in the industry because i am passionate about helping those that have phyisically disabilities and the elderly, because I am disabled myself,, walk with braces and crutches and sometimes use a wheelchair to get around. I have lived in Europe (budapest) so I know the ins and outs of how to get around, Hungary, Germany and a few other countries. Again great article.

  2. Rick Hurlbut says:

    Truly a horrible headline for the article. You attended a trade show at which you made an observation unrelated to the trade show, but you make it sound like the article has something to do with criticizing trade shows. Here’s a more accurate and honest attempt: Setting Yourself Apart as a Travel Professional

    1. John Frenaye says:

      You’re right. We could have done better!

  3. Heike says:

    Very good observation by saying ” I am passionate about travel ” it really comes across as I am getting the most out of this. The single parent travel statement is a great example on how to get the one important message across: what’s in it for the client! In this case knowledge they can not find anywhere else. After all anybody who travels for leisure is passionate about it otherwise they would just stay home.

  4. Rick – I think the headline refers to a critical look at ones’ business as a result of a trade show, but I agree, the initial impression is that it relates to a trade show experience.

    I’m guilty of saying “my customer service sets me apart!” and “I have a passion for travel” – I’m at the point now, where I feel like screaming when I hear someone else say those words. I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year defining exactly what my niche is and I’m happy to say I’ve been able to come up with much better alternatives!

    Steve Cousino, ACC

  5. Hi John, A great post analysis on your trade show experience. Such shared reflection is key to our sales successes. I refer to such introductions as ‘Passion Statements’ which generally produces instant rapport when building relationships. Not everyone will do business with you but those that can relate to you/ your passion/ your priorities will instantly relate to you, like you easier, trust you more naturally, believe in your message, and eventually buy from you sooner! Again, thanks for sharing your experience and helping others learn from it.

    1. John Frenaye says:

      Agreed! I think your passion is something to be seen and not said. It is demonstrated and evidenced by your discussions.

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