Psychologists, poets and advertisers all know the extent to which our language defines and shapes perceptions of reality. The words we use to describe our interactions are not only descriptors but also betray our inner feelings as well as orienting the way others view our performance. Deconstructing the vocabulary we use in the travel profession might lead us to some interesting revelations about how we perceive our role and the relationships we have with clients.
This week TRO’s 365 Guide will explore words travel consultants often use in their travel planning efforts revealing possible weaknesses in our approach to our profession. I’m hoping to provoke you into thinking through the way our language both leads and misleads us as we think about what we do.
How often do we use the word “deal” or some equivalent? I dare say too often.
- “Let me see if I can find a great deal for you”
- “We won’t be undersold!”
- “We can beat anyone’s price.”
- “I can save you some money, I’m certain.”
Each of these phrases leads the conversation directly down the road to the bottom line: price. The problem here is the downward spiral focused solely on cost. Many clients will race to the bottom each and every time, and that is to be expected as the consumer is a civilian. But let’s not give them the lead on this important topic. You are a professional and, as such, do well to take command of the conversation.
Rather than using a vocabulary denoting cost and price, steer your client in the direction of value. Properly understood, cost is only one component of value. However, too often we allow clients to make price the centerpiece of the entire travel planning exercise. When instead we focus on value, we emphasize the other appropriate elements of the equation: not just what the client will pay, but also what they will receive. If we do a strong, professional job of describing the travel experience, the benefits to the client, the romance of travel, the memories created, the cost is a logical result, not a cold surprise.
Look through your presentations and mentally rehearse your sales presentations. Minimize your use of words caring a connotation of cost and substitute the concept of value. You will feel more in control of your presentations and your clients will better understand the entirety of your recommendations.