Warning, this column may not sit well with some people. And with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s go.
It is no secret that we operate in a challenging industry. So much of our success is tied to things that are out of our control—political issues, commissions, world health issues, natural disasters, etc. If an agency specializes in weddings on Maui and all of a sudden Haleakala decides to erupt and make it the 21st century Pompeii—that agency is done. So, we do need to keep on our toes, but sometimes, I think we shoot ourselves in the foot unnecessarily.
Last week, an effort was underway called “Travel Agent Awareness Week.” In and of itself, it makes sense. In the challenging industry, we need to make sure that the public is aware of what we do, and (more importantly) what can do for them. But we need to be careful in how we do it. The tagline for the promotion last week is where my disagreement comes in—we exist.
“We exist.” OK we do, but I think the tone is off. As we all know, tone is so important and a misinterpretation can really work against you. When I hear “we exist,” rather than hearing a rally cry for the industry, I hear a last ditch effort for relevancy. It is almost like that high school football team that has not won a game in ten years. It does not scream confidence to me.
Effective taglines will instill confidence or fear in the consumer. “Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.”— how ominous. If I am a consumer I will look into what that means. “Your memory is our priority” is another one that made me think as a consumer. “We exist,” on the other hand, makes me think of Senator Jim Webb in a GOP debate—some third tier candidate screaming for attention.
Is that the image we want? For me, the answer is a “no!” Yes, internally, the challenge is that we need to make sure the public is aware that we do still exist and can be a great partner in the myriad of travel options that face them. Externally, we must profess that we never left and we are stronger than ever (and that is a fact). And from there, we need to present the practical benefits of dealing with a professional versus going it alone.
Am I wrong? It won’t be the first time. What are your thoughts?