Cross marketing refers to the practice of working with a non-competitive retailer to enhance business opportunities for both parties. Any compatible product is a possible theme for cross marketing purposes, and travel presents a great opportunity because of how easily it can be linked to almost any theme.
Retailers make excellent cross marketing partners because they typically do not compete with travel agents and because it is easy to create real value by marketing together. When you pool your client list with that of the retailer, both benefit by leveraging the other’s circle of influence. When the retailer introduces you to his clients, you enjoy the inherent third party endorsement and trust the retailer has established with his own clients. Properly executed, the effect of a strong cross marketing program can be powerful.
For example, you might decide to cross market with a photography shop. You offer to sponsor a seminar in the photographer’s store to discuss group bookings you are holding with a trip to Costa Rica and some of the excellent photography opportunities there. In turn, the retailer promises to invite his customer list to the seminar and to provide a discount on camera equipment for everyone who attends. You also promise to promote the camera shop discounts to everyone who goes on your trip. This is a true “win-win” proposition!
Similar arrangements can be made with other retail operators:
- Boutique clothing stores
- Camping and outfitter stores
- Tanning salons
- Wedding and Honeymoon planners
- Local kitchen and cooking stores
- Dance studios
Opportunities to cross market get you out in the community and enhance your local reputation as a travel consultant and expert. Cross marketing can range from the structured seminar-type event discussed above to more informal referral arrangements between cooperating business people. The networking that you do at these events will widen your general sphere of influence and introduce you to many potential clients.
Exercise – Write down a list of local retailers that fall into the categories named above. Next to each, write down possible ways to connect each to travel. For example people purchase clothing from clothing stores prior to going on a cruise, or they visit tanning salons prior to vacationing in the Caribbean. Envision holding the perfect trip opportunity for each retailer’s clientele – a photography store’s customers may have different travel ambitions that the tanning salon’s customers. Develop a solid concept for an event for each of your possible cross marketing partners. Next, contact one of the retailers and explore the idea. Remember to act like a partner in the effort. The retailer will have their own ideas about how best to cross market. Remember that the retailer will be as sensitive about sharing his customers with you as your are with him. Together, you and your new partner may just hit on a winning formula.
Use the feedback you receive as a template for creating other events with the other retailers you listed. Try to schedule at least one such event each quarter, and if you can schedule more, do so. A strong cross marketing program will leverage your sphere of influence and grow your business. You have laid an important foundation for your travel practice.