Continuing on my list of resolutions inspired by Travel Pulse, this week, it’s all about gaining more travel experience. Let’s face it, it is hard to sell a Ferrari when you drive a Yugo. When the Samsung social media team tweets from an iPhone, the job of selling a Galaxy Note becomes that much more difficult. To effectively sell anything, you need to know your stuff. And that likely means you need to use your stuff. But what about travel?
In a perfect world, we all would have joint checking accounts with Jeff Bezos (or his soon to be ex-wife) to be able to afford to travel to all of the destinations we sell and to experience all of the different vendors. All the time. But alas, for most of us that is not practical. But it should not be a huge stumbling block There are ways around it.
Travel. OK, I tricked you. Travel IS the best way to be able to sell travel. And while you likely cannot afford (either financially or in time) to travel all the time, there are opportunities. Family vacations? Try some “back of your mind work” by taking notes on an airline or airport experience. What is your hotel like? The town? How easy was it to get to? All of these things will help you out.
FAM Trips. There tend to be two types of FAM trips. Discounted consumer trips for travel pros and legitimate FAM trips. My suggestion is to take advantage of a legitimate FAM trip for the destinations and products you sell the most. Your suppliers are more likely to offer them to you and you (and the supplier) will reap the rewards. A legitimate FAM trip is a whirlwind adventure often flying to a destination one day, touring the destination and properties the following and home the next. It is NOT a vacation. For the discounted trips—they are fine for scoping out a destination or experience. But you are likely not going to get the detailed information you will from a legitimate FAM trip. And a note on the FAM trips—ask your suppliers about them. They may not be proactive to let you know; but come to them with a pitch. Let them know why subsidizing your trip is worth it to them.
YouTube. Behind Google, YouTube is the largest search engine there is. And there is a TON of destination information at your fingertips. All of the suppliers are on there with their marketing videos, so go look. But I suggest NOT looking at the suppliers. Wide angle lenses, beautiful people, ideal lighting, special effects, and perfect weather are not the norm. Look for Joe and Mary Smith who just got back from their destination wedding. Study these consumer (read that as real and legitimate) videos like Tom Brady was studying the Rams films over the weekend and you will have some serious insight.
Supplier and Destination Courses. Suppliers spend a lot of money marketing their product. One of the best returns on their investment is to offer online courses to travel professionals that will in turn market FOR them. Investigate and use. Many of the destination courses allow you to walk away with a Destination Specialist certificate. More street cred for you!
Colleagues. I have never been to Morocco, but I bet I can find someone who has! With the advent of social media, there is no excuse to not have a connection. Facebook groups are plentiful in general and specific to the product. TRO has the TRO Community. If you are part of a franchise or consortia or host, there is likely ways to connect with colleagues there. You have these resources. Use them!
TRO. OK, I’d be remiss by not mentioning our own Travel Research Online and the incredible resources section. Take a look at all the free information available to you.
Brochures, Activity Guides, Destination Guides, Webinars, discounted travel and FAMS, articles for your website, e-postcards for clients, etc. There are also some premium programs to help with social media, website creation, newsletter creation, and much more.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options to get you traveling and “traveling..wink wink.” Keep in mind that clients are coming to you for your knowledge. And that knowledge does not necessarily mean personal experience; it also includes knowing where to look for the information the client needs. These resources listed above are available to you–but likely not to your client. Use them!
OK, there’s that word limit again. Got a suggestion for how to gain more travel experience? Leave a comment!
Next week? How to increase your sales skills!