Marketing drives sales. Marketing sets the expectations of the consumer and thereby preconditions the attitude with which the potential client approaches the travel professional. As marketing raises the profile of the travel agency in a target community, it serves the dual function of both acquiring new clients and retaining former ones. Marketing creates a relationship in the mind of the public between the concept of “travel” and the travel consultant.
That is, marketing does all these things when it is performed correctly. There are all manner of ways that marketing can go awry. Often, the results of poor marketing are not immediately evident, particularly when proper metrics are not in place to measure the return on investment. Because marketing establishes the infamous “first impression”, repairs to a company’s image are tougher to make than are initial marketing forays. It pays to execute your marketing correctly the first time around.
Here are the most common marketing mistakes and a few suggestions on how to bolster your marketing prior to damage being done.
This 365 Marketing and Sales Tip is provided free to the travel agent community by:
No Mission Statement – Yes, you have heard this before from me. Many travel agencies simply market product, relying on supplier brands to carry the client through the buying cycle. Travel agencies must market themselves and to do so effectively they must have a clear vision of exactly what they are marketing. A mission statement is a succinct statement of the travel agency’s values expressed in terms of benefit to the clients. Without a mission statement, there is no check on the key elements the travel agency is offering to the public – in essence, the public will not know the values and principles for which the travel agency stands. The travel agency has no identity without a unified message and therefore the marketing lacks clarity and risks sounding inauthentic in its approach.
No Consistency – One day the message is all about great service and the next it’s 2 for 1 cruises. Sometimes you see the marketing, sometimes you don’t. Marketing should be a constant exercise, but too often it is an on again, off again series of disjointed efforts. Marketing is best carried off in campaigns, using an appropriate mix of venues with a common theme. Don’t treat marketing like a bag of tricks you can use to capture a few badly needed sales.
No Intentionality – Too many travel agents market without a plan. There are no goals, so it is difficult to measure the success of the program. Better yet, the marketing plan should be in writing and should incorporate a marketing calendar. This is a fundamental principle of every other business, but somehow much of the travel professional community acts exempt from this basic exercise.
No Differentiation – Travel agencies often fail to give clients a reason for doing business with their agency as opposed to any other. What is the unique selling point of your agency? “Great service” is not a differentiator – everyone lays claim to great service. Find your unique selling point and express it in terms of benefit to the client.
All Features, No Benefits – Been in the business 25 years? Great! What does that mean to the client? That you are old? Express the features of your agency as benefits. Your client cares about your story if, and only if, it benefits him. Look at your marketing collateral and notice how much time you spend talking about yourself rather than the client. Even your mission statement, your fundamental reason for being a business, needs to be expressed in terms of the client.
For most of us, and I include myself, business is not necessarily “easy” – it’s enjoyable, but hard work. Setting out by following sound principles greases the rails a bit and gives you the fighting chance you and your clients deserve.