Times are changing. In the past thirty years, we have seen such an incredible technology explosion, it is hard to keep up. But you must if you are to survive in an industry such as ours. It is dog eat dog.
Gone are the days when your competition was down the block from you and you were both vying for old Miss Smith’s business.
Without going out on a huge limb here, I am guessing it has been a while since you went home with red fingers, printed a paper ticket or issued a boarding pass. When was the last time you received a client’s cruise documents in the mail with a nice fake leather folio?
Times change. Back in 2005 when I closed one of my retail locations, I pulled a desk from the wall and discovered a package of carbon paper (if you were born after 1975, this might bring you up to speed). My kids were amazed and felt as if we had discovered T-Rex. Times had changed.
The biggest change I have seen is the way that today’s clients want to communicate and transact with you. The Millennials and upcoming Generation Z are working in ways that are truly foreign to the Boomers (Hey Boomer) and Generation X.
They put an emphasis on digital communication and not personal communication. Which can be a polar opposite to how many of us learned the trade. We can no longer simply describe an experience and maybe show some photos.
- We need to provide a video
- We need to provide a photo album
- We need to provide a podcast
- We need to provide an interactive map
And I am sure there are plenty of other digital assets that today’s consumer is searching for.
And we need to provide that information by different means. At one point, I maintained a library of CD-ROMS with camera images taken on FAM trips to lean out to clients like a library. Today’s latest computers don’t have a CD-ROM drive.
But that information cannot be hand delivered to the client any longer
- We need to email it
- We need to text it
- We need to send it via Facebook Messenger
- We need to DM a link in Twitter
- We need to initiate a Facetime call
If we call to follow up, we are likely to get a voicemail mailbox…probably a recording that says it is full just before it hangs up. Today’s consumers are not listening to voicemail or expecting a phone call. You need to adapt.
And the latest change that I have seen is in payment. Back in the days of T-Rex, there was this thing called a check. People came in and wrote how much they wanted to give you on the check and the banks gave you that money. Then came the credit cards and all of the liability that came with them. But today, it is shifting again. We are quickly moving to a cashless society.
- We need to be able to accept money by Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp
- We need to be able to refund money by Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp
We can certainly refund any monies by check, but chances are that the client will see that as a business that does not adapt, or one that does not want to work with them.
And of course, in general communication, we need to be aware of the places that potential clients are looking for information and advice—and we need to be there.
If you have a specialty, seek out Facebook Groups and join the conversation and become identified as the expert. Search specific terms and hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. If you are looking for that Generation Z (and I hate to admit this) but get on Snapchat.
Our customers are speaking a different language now and if we don’t know how to converse and transact, we might as well set up shop in Siberia. The learning curve may be a challenge, but if you are looking to compete today and tomorrow, the effort is worth it!