Your brand is a promise of quality. Wrapped up in a brand is the perception of your company held by everyone who has come into contact with your travel practice. What this means is that your brand is not entirely under your control. In fact, the center of gravity of your brand is somewhere between your intentions and the experience of your brand by consumers. Some of those consumers are clients, others are people who are aware of you through your marketing efforts and reputation.
Every travel agent can influence the public perception of their brand by looking to each of the points of contact that carry the brand to the public. A point of contact is any manifestation of your brand, in any form, where the public comes into contact with your company. Your business cards are a point of contact. Your employees are points of contact. Your signage is a point of contact as is your office. Your advertising is a point of contact. If each and every point of contact carries the same message AND if that message is the one you intend, then you have a high degree of control and influence over your brand.
Unfortunately, many travel agents leave the totality of their brand to chance by taking very good care of some points of contact, but ignoring others. Here are the most common areas where brand maintenance fails and what to do about the situation.
This 365 Marketing and Sales Tip is provided free to the travel agent community by:
No Mission Statement – Hey! Isn’t this the same mistake from yesterdays article on Marketing Mistakes? Yes it is. Failure to have a mission statement means that your brand message will not be clearly articulated and will not be consistently carried by every point of contact. People understand a brand to be a promise of consistent quality. If you carry different messages in your points of contact, then those mixed messages will confuse consumers viewing your marketing efforts.
Ignoring Points of Contact – Does your email address end in aol.com or any other consumer address? If so, what message does that send to the world? Does it say you are a professional or that you are doing the whole travel professional thing as cheaply as possible? Is your office neat and clean when visitors arrive? How are people greeted by your receptionist? Was your logo professionally designed or do you use clip art? Is your web site sharp, easy to use and professional? Look to every single point of contact and give it an upgrade. Make your image shine.
Failure to form a Corporate Culture – Your employees and co-workers are your most important point of contact. Do they fully understand your brand? Do they know the values for which you stand? Can they clearly articulate your brand message? If not, everyone they come into contact with, on and off the job, is receiving a garbled version of your brand.
Failure to Consistently Perform – Do you aspire to be insanely great? Do you treat each of your clients as your most important? Do you dress up your presentations each and every time? Do you always, always, always, play at the top of your game? Inattention to detail, a failure to deliver the highest quality performance each and every time you encounter a client will fail to impress and damage your brand. YOU are your brand. Start with the end result – be the greatest travel consultant in the world each and every client encounter – or be known as something less.
Failure to Monitor Your Brand – Do you know how people feel about your brand? Travel agents often are unaware of their brand image. Elicit client feedback and use both positive and negative comments as a way to monitor how well you are meeting the expectations set by your brand strategy. When clients have concerns, address them openly in the context of maintaining your company’s brand image. Periodically step back from the day to day activities of your business and reflect on the feedback you are receiving. Monitor how well the experiences of your client are synchronizing with your brand message.