I happened upon a travel agency website this weekend with an exceptional feature. It wasn’t the site’s use of technology or a booking engine, or the wide array of content it provided. What most impressed me was the extensive number of client testimonials the owners had gathered together from their existing client base. There were a total of 42 client testimonials, and maybe a few others I didn’t see. I’m pretty sure the web site had more glowing recommendations from former clients than any site I had ever seen.
I don’t know this particular agency, but I am certain I could book with them with confidence. My vacation would be in good hands.
We tend to have a herd mentality when it comes to buying decisions. We don’t want to be the first to try a new product; we hang back to see what others think. Much of the crowd-sourcing on many review sites (think Trip Advisor) owes success to the need to have our buying decisions vetted by others.
Testimonials provide a third-party endorsement of our travel planning ability. They act as a public record you have performed well in the past; so well, in fact, that someone felt compelled to provide you with a public testimonial. Such assurances calm the concerns and fears of new clients when they turn over thousands of their hard-earned dollars to you for their vacations.
Testimonials shorten the sales cycle with clients who do not know you. Much of the “shopping” that travel professionals so fear has to do with a lack of confidence in the new relationship. Testimonials are a shortcut: others are happy with your performance, providing assurances I will be as well.
How to gather testimonials for your marketing materials? Ask! There is no better time to grab a testimonial from a client than when they are just returned and happy from the travel you planned for them. Step right up and ask if they will provide you with a testimonial. You can also find testimonials hidden in your online materials, your blogs, your Twitter feeds, and Facebook posts where clients have turned into evangelists for your cause.
Blowing your own horn is a perfectly acceptable marketing strategy. It’s just so much nicer when others pick up the tune!