This article is Part 4 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for earlier articles in the series.
In Blue Ocean Strategy, authors Kim and Mauborgne identify the elements of a strong blue ocean program as focus, divergence and, interestingly, a strong tag line. Without these characteristics a company’s strategy will be unclear and hard to communicate. Let’s look at each in turn as we attempt to determine how a travel agency might incorporate blue ocean thinking as the core philosophy of their practice.
Focus indicates that the strategy hones in on key elements. Divergence indicates those key elements differ from the elements on which other similar players in the market focus. The strong tag line indicates the clarity of vision and the ease with which the company’s mission can be articulated and communicated.
If we were to list the elements of the cruise market from the perspective of a travel professional, the following arise:
- Product Knowledge
- Mass marketing
- Communicating the cruise “experience”
- Shore excursions
- Characteristics of the individual client
In the red-ocean markets, most travel professionals focus on the first five elements and less so on the last two. The mass-market cruise is typically all about the product and far less about the individual client. True, there are differences in product and a given client may prefer one cruise experience over another, but the sales effort is largely driven from the perspective of the product.
In our biking experience example, the focus was distinctly on the client. Note, too, that the clients were not even typical cruisers. By focusing on the client, and by creating a new value experience, we managed to not diffuse our efforts along the most competitive elements of the cruise sale. In fact, our methodology diverged considerably from the tactics typically employed by most travel agents as we concentrated on the individual clients and on the shore excursions. The “cruise experience” fell to the background of the experience we created.
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In our biking experience example, the focus was on the experience rather than on the sale. We develop a relationship with the individual client by putting them at the center of the experience rather than having the travel product be the central element. The shift is subtle, but powerful. By focusing on the individual characteristics of the client, we created a value that could not be shopped around. Our mission has clarity – client’s interests take precedence. They get to “bike the world”. We did not sell them a cruise. They bought a truly unique experience. “Bike the World” ~ not a bad tag line!
Tomorrow we will wrap up by outlining steps to reconstructing your travel practice in the image of a blue ocean strategy. Then, next week, we will study five different examples of Blue Ocean reconstructions for your travel practice!