As I sometimes do, I stopped in to visit with a travel agency the other day. I always look forward to the opportunity. I learn something every time. This time, however, what I saw was a good example of a bad example. There was one agent on the phone, and she barely acknowledged my arrival with “Someone will be with you in a moment.” As I took my seat she continued her telephone conversation which centered on the price of an airline ticket. Her grammar was sub-standard, and her sales technique nonexistent. After I sat there for another few minutes, she finally yelled into the back of the office that “there was a customer out front.” The agent who emerged to greet me was friendly enough, but had very little presence or personality. I’m fairly certain she did not have a smile. No, the owner was not in, but by that time it no longer mattered. My expectations of that office in general were now pretty low. I did not expect the world’s greatest travel agent was lurking in one of the other offices in the back.
There is no more important marketing tool than the people with whom you work. If the other agents in your office are not bright, smart about the way they do business and work with clients, then your own career is going to be limited as well. If you are the owner of an agency and hire people who are not capable of dealing with everyone who walks through the door, you are almost certainly in a downhill spiral. The standards set by the employer, or the employees in the absence of good leadership, average out the rest of the office. As the first point of contact for many clients, the way a visitor is greeted or a telephone is answered says much about the quality of the office in general.
Certainly advertising and marketing collateral are treated as the centerpiece of many travel agency’s marketing efforts. However, if those promotional pieces are not supported by your company’s primary points of contact, the employees, 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 people with whom you work represent the values and character of your office. They communicate the quality of your office on a 24-hour-a-day basis, on the job and off. Many people’s first, and only, impression of the company with which you work will be through an encounter with your associates. What are your co-workers communicating about the quality of the people in your office?
This is not merely a matter for agency owners. As an employee, the upward trend of your own career path must be a primary concern. Continual improvement of your sales technique, product knowledge and customer service is a must for you to continue to advance. If those qualities are not supported and maintained by your management, it’s time to begin quietly looking elsewhere. Good employers concern themselves with training and want employees that can meet a high standard of competence. If relationships are the key to our business, then finding employees who can relate is a key objective.
The survival of this industry is in the hands of the people who communicate its values and competence. Don’t settle for any degree of mediocrity. What does the presentation of your co-workers communicate about your office?
More importantly, what does it say about you?