You’ve probably heard the adage, “sell what you know;” but,have you considered why?
You’ll enjoy yourself more if you spend it talking about a destination that thrills you. You can paint a more vivid portrait of this region and all its charms. When you share your personal travel experiences, you’re implicitly inviting clients to imagine themselves doing or seeing similar things. The destination comes alive!
And on a very self-serving note, when I’m recounting my own memorable experiences, I’m reliving them, too, in my mind’s eye. It’s almost like a virtual vacation.
On a practical note, it’s efficient to sell what you know. When clients ask for minute details, you don’t need to spend hours researching; you just pull them from your memory bank.
When you love a destination or product, your passion is palpable, and enthusiasm is contagious. You awaken a client’s sense of adventure or romance, and the question suddenly changes from “what can I do there” to ‘how soon can I get there?” The net result is that you sell travel more consistently to the areas in which you specialize.
By selling what you know, you establish credibility in your clients’ eyes. Clients benefit from your true expertise, and likely will refer friends because they will have experienced the tangible rewards of your specialized knowledge. You can give them advice that no online booking engine can offer.
How do you acquire this expertise?
- Visit the destination multiple times. Explore different neighborhoods. Do multiple hotel site inspections. Ask hoteliers to share inside tips on their services and clientele.
- Experience different activities so you can learn more about that destination’s unique attractions.
- Investigate different modes of travel to and within that region so you can advise clients properly. Try escorted tours, self-drive, trains, public buses to get insights into pros/cons.
- Try different vendors/tour operators to see who would be your best travel partners for which clients for that destination
- Once confident of your expertise, announce yourself as an expert; actively solicit clients for those destinations. If applicable, get certified as a specialist and use that certification on your marketing materials. No coursework, though, is sufficient without personal visits.
Here’s the hardest part: turn clients away who request destinations that you know nothing about. Accepting any client, regardless of your knowledge, negates the entire concept of expertise.
I recently declined a potential client who wanted a Thailand honeymoon; I don’t know Thailand. My lack of knowledge would not have been fair to this couple who deserved expert help. They were grateful for my honesty in insisting that they use a travel consultant with expertise in Thailand. They may return to me for help with an area in which I do specialize. Maybe not. But at least my integrity is intact.
It’s hard to say “no” to new business, but integrity is the most critical attribute travel professionals should have. It’s well worth protecting!
Anne Rose is President of Cameron Park, CA-based Celebrate-Travel, Inc, a boutique travel agency specializing in custom-designed leisure travel. She is passionate about travel and loves helping consumers experience the joys of travel. Anne also was elected to the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation under the aegis of the CA Seller of Travel whose function is to adjudicate CA consumer claims against CA travel agents.