Who are you? Why are you here?
Can you tell clients the answer to those questions without hesitation? Do you have a mission statement? Can you recite it in a meaningful, authentic way? Do you have an answer to the question: “Can you beat this internet deal I found”?
Who are you? Why are you here?
Your travel agency has an image. That portion of the public who is aware of your travel practice holds a particular image of you, what you do, the services that you offer. That image, your brand, is not entirely in your control. Your clients contribute to your image when they describe their experiences with you to their acquaintances. Your employees during their off hours shape how people perceive your travel agency. When your mother and father tell people that their child is a travel agent and can get you the “best travel deal in town” – they shape the image of your agency as well. The center of gravity of your brand is somewhere between you and the public.
You certainly can, and should, endeavor to influence and shape your brand. Brand maintenance is an on-going
endeavor. You must continually work to project the image you intend. In fact, however, most travel agents do not intentionally develop their brands. Most travel consultants simply go about their work and when they do it well they are fortunate enough to develop a good reputation. Their natural abilities and skill at working with people carry them along nicely.
Without an intentionally developed brand, however, too much is left to chance.
At the core of your brand image is your mission statement. If you seek to align your every business act with your mission statement, your brand is more likely to look consistent to the outside world. Your clients and non-clients alike will have a more clear image of who you are and the values for which your travel business stands. When your employees or co-workers tell others about the company, their story will be more direct and consistent. When your past clients recommend you, they will do so for the right reasons and can do so more strongly. Your parents may still get it wrong, but you can continue to coach them in your personal and corporate travel ethic.
The result of these brand maintenance efforts will be a better understanding of you and your travel practice in your community. Prospective clients will seek you out knowing in advance who you are and what you do. The sales process will go smoother because new clients will be pre-conditioned to the services you offer, the fees you charge and the respective responsibilities of travel consultant and client.
You project an image whether deliberately or not. When you do so intentionally, the public is more likely to understand your brand the way you want them to understand you. A lot of good things can come from brand maintenance, and it all begins with a very clear articulation of your mission statement.
You are not just a travel agent. You are an individual with a particular set of beliefs, values and principles. Make those your brand, and do so deliberately.