Hairdressers. Stylists. Barbers. Beauticians. The profession goes by many names, but chances are pretty good that you have one in your circle of acquaintances. As I was once told by a wise woman, only crazy people cut their own hair. Certainly, my own experience with stylists indicates some important qualities:
- Loyalty – I go to the same one every time when possible, and I feel guilty when I don’t;
- He schedules the next appointment before I leave;
- I tip because I know it’s expected and because I understand the practice.
There are lessons in each of these points for all travel consultants. Yet, there is one aspect of going to my barber that has been true of every “stylist” I have ever had since I can remember, maybe since I was six years old: they know how to socialize.
Let’s never forget this important lesson. The ability to speak with anybody, not about travel but about anything, is so vitally important to a business person. My barber doesn’t tell me much about himself – he asks about me. How is my family and where am I traveling, and am I doing anything interesting this week? Moreover, here in Florida’s capital, he knows the inside scoop on politics. He never betrays his sources (other clients, I’m sure) but is in tune with the important issues of the city and the state. He knows how to involve himself without seeming pushy or intrusive. He has a point of view but never seems partisan; rather, he seems well reasoned and considered. He speaks not only about what is good for him but what is good for “us” as Americans, as people. That is both art and skill and, unfortunately, becoming ever so rare.
Nolan Burris has a great marketing sermon on social media where he reminds everyone that the first principle is socializing. Be friendly. Talk about things. Involve yourself. Have fun. My barber does all these things with sharp instruments in his hands.
It’s not a hard lesson, but it’s one we sometimes fail to bear out. Your clients not only want to know who you are and what you do, but they also want to know you have a real interest in their lives.