Most travel agencies pay a great deal of attention to the brand image they project in their advertising. An advertisement printed in a magazine or newspaper gets a rare amount of attention from everyone involved. The agency owner, the marketing department, the ad designer, all get involved looking closely at the details to ensure that it projects the appropriate image for the agency. After all, the advertisement will be seen by hundreds, even thousands of potential travel agency clients.
If only that much attention were paid to every travel agency point of contact. As we have discussed in the past, points of contact are those places where clients encounter your branding. Advertising is one, but so are business cards, your marketing collateral, your employees and your storefront. Every point of contact is an opportunity for a client or a potential client to form an impression about your brand. A bad experience with just one point of contact can counter all of the positive brand equity you have worked so hard to achieve elsewhere. To properly create and to then manage your brand requires you to examine and to continually polish each point of contact as closely as you might an advertisement running in print.
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Advertising and your marketing collateral are often the first place consumers encounter your brand. However, if those promotional pieces are not supported by the rest of your company’s points of contact, the potential client is soon disappointed. All of your company’s points of contact must re-enforce the brand image portrayed in your advertising and collateral. Moreover, the message conveyed must be a strong echo of your company’s core values and must be consistent throughout. Any disconnect will jar the consumer into a sense that something is not aligned in your company, and the trust so necessary to a long relationship will not develop. The client is likely to quietly walk away unnoticed from the relationship.
The primary points of contact for most travel agencies are the employees. If every employee from receptionist to travel counselor is not projecting an appropriate image, there is a potential problem that is draining your brand of some of its power. Employees must be trained in the corporate culture and monitored periodically for adherence to the corporate image. Likewise, your storefront is a powerful repository of brand image. If the windows are not clean, if the desks look disorganized, if the brochures are not current, the client’s reception of your brand image is likely to be other than you hope. If you are a home based agent, the choice of venue where you meet with clients has a similar impact. Choose a noisy bar over a quiet coffee shop and the relationship may not evolve much farther. Your manner of dress, the language you use, the look and feel of your business card. All are points of contact and each supports the other.
With every point of contact, your brand is communicated. Spend as much time with every point of contact as you do with your advertising. Otherwise, you won’t know what it is saying about you.