The six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a special time in our home. Like most families, we have our “Griswold” like traditions. The biggest being the annual tree excursion. This always takes place the day after Thanksgiving – no exceptions. As our girls have gotten older, their boyfriends have thankfully helped out. They have been good sports as we (my wife) often spend hours searching for that “perfect” tree.
Once we get home, the annual ordeal of getting the tree just right in the stand, and then the decorating begins. This is one of our favorite traditions. When we travel, we always purchase a simple ornament from each country or city we visit to hang on the tree. As each ornament is strategically placed on a branch, we fondly recall each trip and what it meant to us. The wonderful family times we had including the teenage meltdowns (particularly the one in Budapest). Needless to say, this process goes on into the night.
Our tree is a reflection of our lives – who we are and where we have been. This is what we like to share with friends and family, for you see, every ornament has a story. We collect stories and experiences.
Headline, April 2016: Nordstrom is cutting 400 jobs in its corporate headquarters after a 3% drop in comparable sales in the fourth quarter.
“The shift we have seen over the past several years in which consumers have chosen to spend on ‘big ticket’ merchandise and experiences seem particularly apparent given the results at Nordstrom,” Stifel analysts wrote in a research note last fall. “‘The religion of consumption has been proven to be unfulfilling’ is an observation that is proving to be particularly true this season,” they continued.
Nordstrom, the service model studied and emulated around the world. At the end of the day, someone still has to buy something for it to work. Their service is a result of their sales activity, and apparently people are not buying as much these days.
The past few years, people are purchasing what they value and emotionally connect with the most – homes, automobiles, and vacation experiences. Yet as an industry, we continue to focus on selling product. The customer is telling us what they want; in fact, they are practically begging for it. It’s the sizzle, not the steak. The sizzle is the experience. The product is simply the delivery vehicle.
Vacation marketers (suppliers) get this. Just look at a brochure: They paint a picture of the experience they deliver in the front pages and leave the deck plans, diagrams, and terms and conditions to the back pages.
I get promotional emails from a number of agents and agencies every day. We are the ones driving the fact that consumers are buying on price – why wouldn’t they? It’s the only way we know how to get their attention. This is why there is so much competition among travel professionals. We all present the same products the same way. The only difference is usually price.
But what would happen if we started prioritizing the experience? Based on the comments from the Stifel analysts, it’s what people want to buy.
Consumers rarely make rational purchases; they buy on emotion. Price doesn’t deliver an emotion, but an experience will. Come November, a lot of families, like yours and mine, will be unwrapping their ornaments reminiscing about their travel experiences and trimming their tree.
Will your clients be among them?
Dan Chappelle is President of WealthyTravelAgent.com where he develops sales leaders for the travel & tourism industry. He assists sales professionals achieve their full potential by expanding their vision, shifting their mindset, and transforming their businesses to produce tangible results. An internationally known travel industry expert, sales executive, and speaker, Dan has earned an enthusiastic following among travel agents and industry leaders worldwide. He has been featured in numerous trade and consumer publications and is an instructor for the Travel Institutes’ Professional Educators Program, providing insight for travel professionals. You can contact Dan by email at Dan@WealthyTravelAgent.com.