OK. I confess. It’s not cool, and entirely too hipster, but I’m a fan of Whole Foods. Yes, I know the organic grocer is sometimes the object of all manner of ridicule. However, Earth Fare, Whole Foods and Fresh Market along with some local organic grocery stores provide plenty of variety and a nice break from the standard grocer fare. At one time, I could walk to a Whole Foods from my house, so it is my favorite, but perhaps you have your own.
I am of the opinion there are some important lessons for travel professionals wrapped up, organically of course, in each of these grocery chains.
Price is not the only consideration – Yes, in these columns I’ve beaten this one to death. But really, consider the many alternatives to spending $80 on six items at Whole Foods. If price was the only consideration, Whole Foods would have been out of business a long time ago. Your clients, I promise, are not fixated on price. Rather, they confuse value with price. You, as a travel professional, should not. Grasp this one psychological shift and your business will change overnight. It’s worth the effort.
Inspiration – Clean floors. Great Lighting. Intelligent thought given to presentation and display. Samples. Go into any Whole Foods and you can be actually inspired by food. In most grocery stores, you are there to get what you must and leave. In Whole Foods, however, I find myself actually browsing. One of the most important things you can do for your clients is inspire them. Travel quotes, great photography, well done brochures and videos are all ways to inspire your clients. Do so well and the next time they think about travel, they will think of you. (Need some help? Check out www.VoyagerWebsites.com)
Logistics vs Experience – When I go into the local Publix supermarket, I go there to buy groceries. I know what I want, I find it, I check out and go home. When I go to Whole Foods, though, I have an experience. The people watching is great, the staff offers up the aforementioned displays and food products in the most appealing possible manner and they are well-trained and friendly. Publix is about buying food. Whole Foods is an experience in food. True enough, travel is about getting there, staying and coming back. However, if you are selling logistics it is highly likely you are focusing on the wrong elements. Logistics is a left-brained, rational exercise. Travel, however, is about the experience. We want to focus on the experience, the romance, the intimacy of a destination, the way it infiltrates our consciousness and never leaves. Put that on display and client loyalty is a given.
We buy food for our bodies, but so much of travel is about the soul. These organic grocers know their customers and provide the ambiance and goods to meet their needs. Give your clients the adventure with you they deserve and they will return time and again because you are giving them the whole experience, travel that both originates and ends somewhere deep in their psyche.