Have you ever heard the story of the girl who was helping her mom prepare a Sunday meal of roast beef and vegetables? The little girl watches her mother cut the sides off the beef before she puts it into the roasting pan and curiously asks her why she does that. The mother’s answer is simple … because her mother did it that way. They dig deeper and ask Grandma why she cuts off the sides of the beef before roasting it, and Grandma gives the same answer…because her mother did it that way. Luckily Great Grandma is still alive, so they call her to ask her the same question and she replies that the oven she used to have was so small, cutting off the sides of the beef was the only way it would fit in the oven.
I love this story because it clearly illustrates how human beings fall into a habit of behaving according to what was modeled to them, without asking why. It’s exactly what has happened when it comes to marketing for travel agents.
The travel agency business model changed 10 to 15 years ago when online booking engines emerged and airlines eliminated commissions. The travel agent went from being a controller of distribution of travel to one of many distribution sources.
When that happened, the role of the travel agent changed. No longer an agent, your role has evolved into an expert. But most travel agents are still acting and marketing like travel agents, instead of travel experts. When you market like a travel agent, consumers think of you as a travel agent. They don’t need travel agents. They have hundreds of other options. They do want an opinion. They do want expertise. But they write you off because you market like a travel agent, not a travel expert.
So how does one market like a travel expert, instead of a travel agent? I will share with you three of the most valuable tips I can offer:
- Stop marketing products and start marketing solutions and dreams. Have you ever heard the saying, “people don’t want to buy a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole”? When your marketing is generated by and is all about the products you sell, you look like an extension of the product. You must begin to market the solutions and dreams you deliver, instead of the products you sell. Stop hiding behind your travel products and proudly own what you do for your clients.
- Stop boasting of credentials (number of years in the industry, letters after your name, consortia you belong to, etc.) and start being clear on your medicine. You have a passion for travel because you have a unique ability that can have a substantial positive impact on people’s lives. What is your medicine? Figure it out and get clear on it. When you do, you can boast of your medicine (how you help people and the difference you make) and get super clear on who needs it.
- Lead your marketing with helpful information. When your prospects and clients get accustomed to you doling out helpful information, they will see you as a source of information — which is an expert. Giving out great information is exactly how you establish yourself as an expert. Having a consistent outlet for giving free information is a fabulous way to establish your expertise quickly. This is why I love the weekly electronic newsletter.
So, ask yourself if you are still marketing like a travel agent. Do you have clarity on the solutions and dreams you deliver? Do you own your “medicine” and have clarity on who needs it? Are you giving out great information to your prospects on a regular basis? If the answer is “no” to these questions, then you are not establishing yourself as an expert – you’re still doing the equivalent of cutting off the sides of the roast beef before roasting it.
Meredith Hill, ex-President of Hills of Africa Travel, founded the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) to empower frustrated and struggling travel consultants by helping them to connect with their passion again, attract ideal clients, and build a business that makes positive difference in people’s lives. Visit GIFTE at www.travelbusinessu.com.