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.
Every good travel agent marketer has it – the marketing mindset. A travel agent 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. Product knowledge and all of the things you learn on Fam trips and in destination specialists courses are naturally vital to your travel practice. But basic marketing knowledge is equally as crucial. Why? If clients don’t immediately associate your name with thoughts of travel, then you will not be their choice of travel agent when they need you most.
The marketing mindset is always seeking opportunity, and sees it everywhere. Every business decision is a deliberate step to building client awareness of the travel agent’s services. Fortunately, a marketing mindset can be developed – you don’t have to be born with it. But those who develop the marketing mindset do so by mixing their passion for travel with a keen sense of observation of people and the reasons they buy. A good travel marketer understands why people buy. Smart marketers develop the habit of translating their passion into emotional hot buttons for the clients, knowing that people’s travel purchases originate in their hearts, not in their heads.
So let’s begin with you – the travel professional. Why do you love to travel? What are the reasons you would list as your own? Relaxation, freedom, curiosity, knowledge, culture, adventure? You probably realize that your clients and potential clients share these passions. There is the point where you need to first touch your clients.
People love to talk about travel. Give them the opportunity. Start conversations with people about travel. Don’t try to sell them anything. Knowing what motivates any given client is the first step to marketing to them. Most people have a long list of places they want to go and things they want to do. A travel agent with a good marketing mindset is going find those emotional reasons this client wants to travel and is then going to help that client achieve those objectives. Your objective is to connect the client’s heart to your brand – for the sole purpose of assisting the client. Draw the client out in conversation and get to the heart of their desire. Then, ask for permission to assist them.
“I can see you love the idea of a safari. We get information on safaris from our suppliers all of the time. Would you like for me to send you info for armchair reading?”
That’s all you have to do. You have offered to assist the client and touched an emotional connection. You have established that first connection of your brand with thoughts of travel. You now have permission to market to them. You are on your way to developing a marketing mindset.
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