Onward with the resolutions inspired by Travel Pulse. This week, it’s all about improving your sales skills. This should be an easy one! If you are serious about the travel industry, you know that you never need to look too far to find a way to learn something. Heck, if you are a consumer, there are plenty of options. But, travel professionals, by definition, should have an advantage over the consumer—that’s why we exist! So I’ve broken it down to four ways to improve or increase your product knowledge to help you maintain your edge!
We live in an online world and there is a wealth of information at your fingertips—likely in your pocket or purse! Use it! I am not suggesting that Trip Adviser or Yelp be your go to source, but they are useful in their own rights. But look to all of the online (and free) resources provided by Travel Research Online, Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse, ASTA (if you are a member), ASTA Small Business (NACTA), The Travel Institute, your host agency or franchise operator. All of these will offer you unbiased resources for virtually any mode of travel, supplier, or destination. Most are free. Use them.
Notice I did not mention any suppliers or destinations in the above paragraph. Of course head to the suppliers. But realize that their customer is you…not necessarily your client. Suppliers and destinations have a ton of money to develop resources to sell…wait for it…. THEIR product. Of course you expect the tools to be biased. You will see the most beautiful people dining in elegant restaurants, buff people frolicking in the pools, and children laughing and giggling. You will not see the line at the buffet, fat guys (like me) in a speedo chugging a beer, or kids screaming because they want some trinket from the gift shop. Wide-angle lenses and Photoshop are two of their best friends. Take it for what it is worth. But for up-to-date info, they are invaluable. Call on your CVB or Tourist Board representative. Use the Business Development Manager at the suppliers. They are all there to give you the tools that can help you sell their product of destination. Just remember-their job is to sell their product or destination, not necessarily what it right for your client!
Yeah. No way around it. Get out there and travel. Take advantage of FAMS or any discounted trips that fit in your marketing budget. And when you go, make sure you take detailed notes. In the old days, I had spiral bound notebooks to document what I saw and experienced. Today, I use Evernote on my phone. And as much as I would like to think there are times when we are “off the clock,” that seems to never be the case. No matter where you go, try to experience it as a client might. If you are heading to a day-long seminar in Philadelphia on accounting—take an extra hour and see something and do something and document it. I mentioned Evernote, take a look at it. You can use it as a notebook, scrapbook, photo album, audio capture, web clipper and more. But when you travel, always be “on” and you will reap the rewards!
COLLEAGUES AND CLIENTS
OK, this is the BEST way to increase your product knowledge in my opinion. If you are in a large office, or if you are solo at home; you do have colleagues. They may be in the TRO Forum or a Facebook Group. They may be at the desk next door. They might be in the agency across town or across the country. Use them. There is strength in numbers and we all have valid and valuable advice for each other. The other is clients. I have always incentivized my clients to give me detailed reviews, photos, and videos of their trips. If you have client interested in sailing on the SS Manthatsahugeship and you had another client get off that ship two months ago—can you think of a better way to show the real experience? I used to maintain a library of CDs (before the cloud) with digital images for destinations that I traveled, my staff traveled, and my clients traveled. And I loaned them out like a library. Now, I just send a Dropbox link.
How do you increase your product knowledge? Got a suggestion? Leave a comment!
Next week? How to find your niche!