The unique selling point differentiating your company from all others must be clearly and consistently articulated. Like any message, however, branding can be distorted and misinterpreted if not properly transmitted at its source. For a brand to be clear and strong, it must be “authentic” – honestly presented with integrity. Your positioning must align perfectly with your core values. Travel consulting, because it depends so heavily on one-to-one encounters between the consultant and the client, is particularly dependant on a sense of authenticity. If a consumer believes that a company or service is authentic, they will gravitate to it, support it and even promote it to others. If they perceive it as inauthentic, they will shun it as one more noisy imposition, a part of the marketing and advertising clutter through which they must daily wade.
So what does it take to be an authentic travel consultant? It begins with the very reasons you are in business. If you are a travel consultant because you love travel and want to assist others to travel well, then you are well on your way. But the next step is equally important – your marketing efforts must convey that core passion without distortion. If your marketing copy or efforts betray canned language, hype, a “one-size-fits-all” mentality, many of the most attractive potential clients will not have anything to do with you. Much advertising that we would characterize as “inauthentic” appeals to base motivations like price, and comes across as a form of trickery.
Even the best travel agents can fall into this trap, especially when motivated by the need to “make a sale”. When the primary motivation and psychological underpinning of the transaction is helping the consumer make an informed travel purchase, it rings authentic. When the primary motivation is to “sell something”, however, the client’s defense mechanisms are alerted and the process begins to fall apart.
Here is how to re-enforce the authenticity of your travel practice:
- Make it client ecCentric – put the client and the client’s needs at the heart of every transaction;
- Remind yourself daily of why you have chosen travel as your profession – surround yourself with reminders;
- Feature a person – yourself or your agents – in your marketing efforts. Demonstrate the humanity of your business.
By following these simple steps, your clients and the public will perceive your travel practice as genuine, as a desirable partner in their travel experiences.