I don’t make New Year’s resolutions myself. For me, every day is the best day to resolve to do something different, to get on schedule to doing and being something new.
However, if you’re still looking for some promises to make to yourself, let me offer three ideas below. They’re all about getting to the heart of your compelling narrative and unleashing its power to grow your travel business.
Why do I believe storytelling is important? Like business guru Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
I can purchase travel directly from a supplier. I can purchase it online through an OTA. I can purchase it through another travel advisor or a company like Costco. Why then would I purchase travel from you?
And please don’t list for me the features and benefits you offer through your travel agency. From experience, I’m estimating that 90% of travel advisors say they offer exactly what you do. What sets you apart – engages me to work with you specifically – is your “Why.”
So, if you’re still looking for resolutions, may I suggest that you spend January getting your story straight. Pull out a journal and every day write down one story of your life that you feel strongly shaped the “Why” behind your travel business.
Comment below to get started. Join our Travel Business Mastermind Storytelling Facebook group. Share this story on social for your friends, family, business colleagues, clients, to get them talking about their favorite stories about you.
Then, on Feb. 1, start reading those stories. Make notes to yourself about common threads that link those stories. Think about what those threads reveal about your personality, skills, passions – your “Why.” How does all of that relate to how you deliver incredible service in your business?
Then, come back to me (follow me on social) Sunday, Feb. 14th, Valentine’s Day, with your story of the incredible you, your “Why,” and make me fall in love with you and your business. Until then, maybe these resolutions can help you get there.
1) Believe that you have a compelling story
The fastest and easiest way to personal and professional fulfillment unfolds before you when you know who you truly are. I have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and corporate employees over the last 20 years, helping them tell their stories. I can say, without hesitation, that all of us have interesting, truthful tales.
Yet, for some reason, many of us go through life thinking we’re a nobody. We think that nobody would want to hear our story. That’s a big stinking pile of manure. Stop smelling it. I know you better than that. All of our life stories are worth telling.
During my adult life, I have attended upwards of 100 wakes or memorial services for friends, acquaintances, and family members. None of them were “famous” enough to have their passing reported on the evening news. But every single one of their eulogies left me touched by the simple but powerful narrative of how that person lived their life.
All of our lives may be different, but each of our lives is an archetype for the human values we all treasure. And that shared space is where the magic bond builds between all of us.
Your customers and prospective customers are just waiting to hear your stories, to form deeper bonds with the values you share in common. So, while you’re journaling this month, focus only on crafting detailed stories. Your personal values will reveal themselves naturally. Resolve to believe that your story is worth telling, over and over again.
2) Be vulnerable, and don’t worry what people think
The biggest obstacle I’ve seen clients and colleagues face when telling their compelling stories is fear. Fear is a powerful emotion. It tells us “I’m not good enough.”; “I’m this lesser thing, not that greater thing.”; or “I don’t have a story anyone would want to listen to.”
That’s rubbish. Take for example Jenn Lee, vice president at Travel Planners International. I thought I knew Jenn. I’d interviewed her multiple times for stories, I sat with her at industry conferences. I even traveled with her for eight days in Europe.
Then, I “met” Jenn when she delivered the final speech at Cruise World 2019. Jenn got up on that stage and talked about her personal trials and tribulations. She described some pretty dark days, but also boldly stated that she was no longer afraid of talking about them. She was bearing the truth of those years proudly because they led up to her getting her life back. She received a standing ovation.
Recently, Jenn told me that she hadn’t planned on telling her story that day. She made a last-minute decision stepping up on the stage, because she wanted to own her entire life, and move “Fiercely Forward.” I know dozens of travel industry professionals who, like me, have a whole new powerful connection to Jenn as a result of her willing to be vulnerable.
3) Ask others to tell THEIR stories (and listen)
Now that you are on your path, listening to your stories, seeing your own patterns, and discerning which narratives are true to your values, engage your friends and colleagues by listening to their stories. Be present and listen attentively.
Listen for the moments that move you, the places where you form common bonds with them. See if you can understand why you connect with their stories. What kinds of events in their lives connect with yours? What draws you to a deeper understanding of their values? How do you think this deeper connection will affect your relationship with them?
We don’t want to adopt or adapt to others’ stories. What this exercise does is put you in the shoes of your clients and prospective clients, so you can feel how stories work to create bonds. When you resolve to seek out others’ stories, you’ll better understand the level of detail, the more descriptive nature of words, that help YOUR story come to life. Also, you can see how stories of different lengths work – because not every story needs to be an “essay.” Sometimes impactful stories can be as short as an Instagram post.
I like to tell people that storytelling is both an art and a science. The bonding chemicals in our brain, fired up by great words, compelling stories, are the science part. The art is learning how to do it. Some of us are natural born storytellers, and we spend our lives honing our craft. Others need help to learn how. For others, the best choice is to outsource it.
No matter what you choose to do, resolve to get to know YOUR story in a deeper way this year, and learn how it tells your clients, sales prospects and colleagues what makes you special. It could make all the difference to your success in 2021.
Richard D’Ambrosio is a master storyteller who, for more than 30 years, has helped leading brands like American Express, Virgin Atlantic Airways, the Family Travel Association (FTA), and Thomas Cook Travel tell their stories to their customers, the media, and employees. A professional business coach and content marketing consultant with his own firm, Travel Business Mastermind, Richard most recently has worked with The Travel Institute, Flight Centre USA and a variety of host agencies and tour companies, helping entrepreneurs refine their brands and sharpen their sales and marketing skills. Richard writes regularly about retail travel agencies, social media & marketing, and business management.