For the past few days, we have been discussing the importance of possessing a marketing mindset that understands the necessity of an emotional connection with your travel clients. Most advertising seeks to touch an emotional “hot button” with a viewer that appeals to either a sense of well-being or a sense of fear. The most effective marketing speaks far more in favor of well-being and addresses the benefits to the client of doing business with the marketer. As we indicated yesterday, advertising and marketing that appeals directly to fear runs the risk of being viewed as manipulative and inauthentic. However, that does not mean that you should ignore the fears and concerns clients have about travel in general and working with a travel agent in particular. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Supplier Profile
Every good travel consultant marketer has it – the marketing mindset. A travel professional who is also a good marketer knows that opportunity sometimes presents itself in unusual ways. The opportunity may come in the form of a recession – and a subsequent fall in the cost of travel – or in a chance introduction to a new client.In building your travel practice, it is important to recognize the need to consistently and continually build on your marketing knowledge and evaluation skills. Marketing isn’t about the occasional advertisement placed in a newspaper or the sporadic burst of activity you undertake because sales are down. Instead, we want to develop a marketing mindset.
Posted In: Point-to-Point
Today I want to talk to you about the value and the importance of little things.
I’d like to focus on the women reading this article for a moment to help clarify today’s message. If you and I were going for a cup of coffee and I came around to the passenger-side of the car to open the door for you, would you notice the courtesy? Read the rest of this entry »
To be good at marketing, become a student. The marketing mindset requires that you study marketing in all its forms. You don’t have to go to a classroom, just look at the marketing all around you. Everyone who depends on customers markets in some form or fashion whether preacher, politician or store manager. Some market well and some not so well. The travel agent studying marketing will examine both good and bad marketing to better understand what works and what does not. Almost all marketing in any industry will have some analogy to travel. Seeing how other marketers approach their market and seek to touch emotional hot buttons can provide you with valuable insight when applied to your own travel practice.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Travel Agent Diaries
I recently spent a week down in Mexico with a really fun group of agents. Some were old, some new, but most were really hungry for knowledge, and excited about networking with other professionals. It was such a refreshing change from the “old guard” (of which I am one) who are so set in their ways, they would never conceive of learning something from a newbie.
To which I say, “really?” Read the rest of this entry »
Note the title of this column is “Travel Professional Sales” NOT “Professional Travel Sales.” You will not this week be reading about how to sell travel, because that is not what I believe you do. Carnival sells travel. Funjet sells travel and so does Delta. You, on the other hand, sell yourself. You sell your ability to assist clients in coming to a good buying decision.
It is absolutely possible for you to enhance the arc of your travel practice by learning fundamental sales techniques. However, the techniques you need to master are not “tricks” or clever negotiating. Instead, we will discuss the psychology of sales and the development of the appropriates skills and commitments to generate a higher rate of performance. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
Yesterday was Father’s Day and my kids did something really nice for me—without prompting. They cooked a great breakfast, hung out, and then we all went to a minor league baseball game. Now my kids are a combination of starving high-schoolers or starving college kids, so the money was tight, but minor league baseball is affordable for virtually everyone. In the end, I really did not want (or need) anything for Father’s Day, but I got it. And it was good. Why not do that for some of your best clients? Read the rest of this entry »
Whether you are an agent in a storefront agency with a large group of travel agents and business development specialists, or whether you are a sole proprietor, you have a team to assemble. You require a full family of sales collateral that carries a consistent look and message. Your logo, your company name, your business cards, your company brochure, your email address, web site, Powerpoint presentations, invoices, print and email advertising, sales letters and stationery are all team members that carry your company’s mission out into the world. Spend some time making sure they are properly suited up to do their job. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Agent Perspectives
Travel insurance can bring out the negatives of this business. We have to be cognizant of it and we need to sell it to protect against the bummers of travel including the weather, delays, interruptions and cancellations, as well as lost luggage and so forth; not to mention, the unforeseen medical situation. You get the point.
As part of my sales information form and contract, I do include a piece about travel insurance and require them to formally accept or decline the insurance. I find this a must because as we all know, anything can happen. I recently had a client on an Italian vacation. They had a flight cancellation, a flight delay and lost luggage. Unfortunately, they opted out of insurance. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Deck Plans
“What is the one thing you wish you had known before embarking on your first cruise holiday?” That was the question posed to more than a dozen cruise bloggers/experts by Danielle Fear, known on Twitter as @CruiseMiss. Certainly, the question was thought-provoking, and it caused me to think back more than 20 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
The word “radical” denotes the idea of getting to the root of a problem. When mathematicians want to find the square root of a number, they use the radical symbol to express the equation. For travel agents, getting radical on a problem means seeking out its cause. One of the best ways to do so is to work backwards and ask, quite simply, “WHY?”
Long ago, we discussed the sales funnel. There, we examined the sales process and noted that at every step of the way, potential clients fell out of our sphere of influence. As we looked to the sales funnel, we noted that a lot of clients were being lost at the top of the sales process and fewer as we went along. However, the further along in the sales process any given client was, the more time and energy we had invested in the client. Read the rest of this entry »
Regardless of their intrinsic value as learning lessons, travel agency mistakes can be costly. Whether it is an airline ticket booked to the wrong destination, or the missed deadline or the client whose project slips through the cracks, the real cost to the agency can be totally out of proportion to the potential gain inherent in the transaction. For that reason, it is important for your travel agency to very closely examine mistakes. However, too frequently mistakes are not fully analyzed and understood by the entire body of co-workers in a travel agency, opening the door to a similar mistake being made again in the future. Further, the loss of a key employee can mean that a large portion of the historical understanding of past mishaps may walk Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
Today I want to talk to you about what I think is your biggest single problem. I don’t care if you have a store front or that you work alone from home. I doesn’t matter if you work out of your attic or from your basement. You all have the same problem. And it’s the same problem I have.
Not enough people know you’re alive.
That’s it. How can I do business with you if I don’t know that you exist. It all starts with visibility. I have to be introduced to you to know that you are alive. Then and only then can we begin to build a relationship that I hope, will lead to new business. Read the rest of this entry »
Developing and marketing a niche area of expertise is one of the best possible ways to differentiate your travel practice from the competition. As an expert in a particular theme or destination, you can quickly establish your travel agency as the only reasonable resource to which consumers should turn when considering travel in your niche venue.
Niche marketing is a way of helping you focus on locating new clients, not a set of restrictions on your business offerings. Niche marketing is not necessarily about gearing your entire business Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Travel Agent Diaries
So, during all my young adult years, I pictured myself in some sort of “important” career – a COO, maybe a consultant, who knows. But here I am–bottom line: I am in retail. Yes, I am in retail. We all are. The difference is that our customers don’t leave the shop with a bag of goodies. We sell, but we sell dreams and in some cases, aspirations. I do know that if I am going to be in retail, I prefer to sell Bentley or Hermes but this clientele seems a little bit elusive.
This week, I have brought up the topic of budget with two different clients who actually said replied with something like, “don’t worry about my checkbook, just tell me how much what I want is going to cost and assure me that it is fair.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
Can we agree that if you are not marketing your travel business is some manner, you are probably not going to make it in this business? Marketing is a science, and while luck may have a role to play, if you are not sure of what you are doing, you may be doing more harm than good.
While times change, concepts are usually pretty consistent. Recently I discovered a handout from college outlining the 5 questions every marketing person must be able to answer. I am sure at the time, it went in one ear and out the other; but there were some highlights in there that apparently made sense 30 years ago, and to a large degree still make sense today—with a little updating. Read the rest of this entry »
When designing your marketing efforts, remember the principle of frequency: a potential client typically needs to hear your message several times before responding. Too many marketing efforts look like bursts of activity rather than well-designed campaigns. In order to gain mindshare, your marketing and advertising efforts need to have a consistent look and feel and be repeated often on a regular, continuing, and ongoing basis. Marketing must be a continual, ongoing series of effort to keep clients engaged with your brand, to keep you top-of-mind. Read the rest of this entry »
In its simplest form, marketing consists of generating new business and keeping old. Any new customer may spend money with you once, but a loyal customer provides a lifetime of business! From your existing clients comes stability and from new clients comes growth. Both are necessary to a successful business.
Many travel professionals confuse the concepts of marketing on the one hand and sales on the other. Marketing refers to the techniques used to gathering customers to a product or concept, of grabbing their attention. Marketing is a packaging of an image around a product or a service. Sales is bringing the customer to an actual purchasing decision. The two elements work hand-in-hand and the accomplished travel professional will be adept at both. Read the rest of this entry »