If you’ve been in business any length of time, you’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about “branding,” what it is, and how to do it. You’ve heard it from everyone else, so you might as well listen to my take on the whole branding thing as well.
First off, some definitions. ADVERTISING is when you put the word out through broadcast, print or social media; about a specific product with a “call to action” included. MARKETING is more generally putting it out there about the range of products and services you offer. PUBLIC RELATIONS is letting people know what you do outside of actually booking travel, generally through interviews, articles, press releases and that sort of thing. BRANDING is simply about who you are. Branding includes anything you do to stay “top of mind” with clients and prospects.
Now, here’s where some of us miss the mark. We have come up with some cute and clever name for our business cards, and we try to “brand” that. Or worse yet, we are affiliated in some way with a large travel corporation, and we spend our time and money building their brand instead of our own.
Here’s my take: If you are dealing in commodities, you brand the product. If you are dealing in personal services, you brand yourself. When people want the best soap, they don’t care who sells it to them. When people trust the planning of their once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation to someone else, you can be sure they care about the person selling it.
Intrinsically, selling travel is an intensely personal thing. People don’t want to do business with a company-no matter how cute the name (Apple may be the exception). They want to do business with a person. What you need to do is build your name in peoples minds. You want people to think of you first, when they think about booking travel. YOU are the brand! Your name should always be more prominent than your company name or the name of your host or consortia.
When you run an ad, don’t say “Call SWIM WITH THE FISHES TRAVEL today”. Instead the call to action is, “Call JOEY CORLEONE at Swim With The Fishes Travel today”. Ditto for marketing pieces. If you sponsor local events, make sure your NAME is printed bigger than your company’s. Better yet, do as I have always done and put your name in the business. That way people see it twice in everything you do!
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Let’s talk! Leave a comment!
David Holman is a Partner at Bridges & Holman Worldwide Travel, The Mobile Agent Host. He has been in the travel business since 2005, and the author of “Live From…Cruise Ship Reviews” and “Top 8 Cities in America”, both available on Amazon. www.holmantravel.com