Stop selling travel! I see so many travel agency websites that look like Las Vegas – dozens of blinking supplier ads light up the web page. I see countless Twitter tweets that are one product advertisement after another in endless succession. Clients can buy travel without you! They do not need a travel consultant to purchase travel. Travel is available on the internet, in the newspaper, and direct from suppliers. When you market travel, you will almost inevitably be setting yourself in competition with the many other distribution channels for travel product. You will find yourself competing on price. Fundamentally, travel consultants do not compete on price well. Yet, when travel agents are of a mindset that they sell travel, that is the arena in which they find themselves.
Travel agents should be marketing themselves, not travel. Their Unique Selling Point is their ability to help consumers make intelligent purchasing decisions. When consumers are happy with a purchase, they will brag about the buy they made. When they are unhappy, however, they will complain about what they were sold. It is true – people love to buy, but they hate to be sold. In that simple truism is a lesson for travel consultants: help clients make intelligent buying decisions. Sell your access to the best values. Sell your affiliations with industry consortia and professional resources. Share what you do. Marketing does not get more basic than this. You are never competing on price if you are selling your own expertise.
Identify what you do best, and market yourself. Leave marketing travel product to the big discounters. Don’t try to compete on their turf. There are so many attributes that you possess as a travel consultant where the discounters and run of the mill travel agents can never compete. That is your forte. There is where you should find your marketing venue.