While we have lived with market uncertainty for several years at this juncture, there has been noticeable improvement for most regions of North America. As you consider your business strategies, appropriate decisions have to be implemented. Here are a few tactical principles that will keep business coming through the door through the balance of this year and into the next:
1. People want to travel again and will do so if you are there to counsel them on how to travel smart. Talk to them about the values to be had. What values? Watch international airline prices and tour packages over the next few months. They will be coming down to entice travelers back into the skies, particularly in Europe, but they will be low inventory, short lived specials. Get ready for them, though, and be ready to take advantage. Watch for better rates from non-domestic carriers as they often receive subsidies from tourism authorities for marketing. Historically, lower travel costs follow civil and financial unrest and the world has certainly seen its share of both.
2. Over the past few years, many other travel agencies slowed their marketing efforts. Bad move. Let’s hope you kept marketing. Everyone markets when times are good and it is hard to sort out one message from another. Continue to market when everyone else quits. You will have the floor to yourself and will garner more mind-share from those hearing your message. Your efforts may not pay off immediately, but when good times return, it is your name prospects will remember.
3. Market using tactics that require effort rather than dollars. Shift your marketing away from “shotgun” tactics designed to market to the world and focus on your market. Use word of mouth, networking and advertise with media that has a tight, loyal readership.
4. Focus on your existing clients. They know you best and it takes less effort to market to them than to gain new clients at large. Be better about communicating with and following up with your clients. Stay in touch with them. Enhance and deepen your existing relationships.
The skills you learned in a weak economy will serve you well now times have turned around.
Using the distribution channels we identified yesterday, we can apply the above principles. To review, here are our channels of distribution, re-organized to reflect some commonalities:
- Existing Client Channel
- Direct Contact
- Emails and Newsletter
- Networking Activities
- Volunteer Activities
- Group Leaders
- Public Relations
- Speaking Opportunities
- Writing articles
Conserve your financial resources by marketing via an investment of time and energy. Emphasize your networking and speaking opportunities, and gear up your public relations efforts. Focus on your advertising in niche markets, not on mass-market efforts. By tightly focusing your efforts you will concentrate your resources and, hopefully, your results.
Exercise – Look at your own channels of distribution and apply each of the tactical principles above. Determine how these principles can help you focus your efforts.
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