Sometimes A Beer With Other Businesses Helps! | Travel Research Online


Sometimes A Beer With Other Businesses Helps!

I belong to a local networking group, and we meet monthly on Zoom, but there is a sub-group that really clicked, and we meet every other week for beers.  Our beer meetings tend to get deeper into the weeds than the typical “Hi. I’m John, and I can help with your travel needs.” We all operate public-facing businesses, meaning you can walk in and buy a product or a service. Last week, we discussed best practices for running our businesses, and I took notes. And as I looked at them, I realized that my travel business is not that different than the jewelry shop, the hardware store, or the grocery.  Check it out (in no particular order)!

  1. Develop a strong online presence: A professional website, active social media accounts, and positive reviews on the rating platforms we all love. {sarcasm}
  2. Offer personalized service: Get to know your customers and their preferences. This is just as critical for my jeweler friend as for a travel agency.  The use of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program was considered essential.
  3. Stay up-to-date on your industry: Keep track of changes in the industry. Just as we need to know about travel warnings, COVID protocols, and entry and exit requirements, the hardware store needs to know when there is a shortage of widgets, and the grocer needs to know when the egg prices will come back to normal.
  4. Establish partnerships with suppliers: This is critical for travel agencies, and I cannot imagine being in business without preferred partners. And I learned the same is true of others. The local jeweler got an all-expense paid trip for two to Italy to visit a designer—he used it for a contest.
  5. Be available 24/7: This was the divisive one. Indeed, a doctor should be available or reachable 24/7.  A hardware store—probably not. As for me, I do not promote it, but I often am checking communications at odd hours and will respond. We do have a service for our traveling clients.
  6. Invest in marketing: Critical all around. Marketing can manifest in many ways, such as online, print, podcast/radio/television ads, sponsorships, direct mail, email marketing, etc. But it was a unanimous best practice across the board. If you are not marketing, you might as well be closing the doors.
  7. Specialize: Me? I am a HUGE fan of specialties and finding a niche. With all the competition in the world, online and off, the more unique and specialized you are, the more in demand you will be. Our local hardware store, on the surface, seems like they specialize in nothing. Still, the owner told me that carrying a huge assortment of complementary products that are not typically found in a hardware store has had an enormous impact on his bottom line.  Yes, I buy screws and paint there. But I have also bought candles, a replacement frying pan, and a Yeti coffee mug.
  8. Continuously change: This was also unanimous. If you are not growing, you are dying. This is especially critical if you are competing with an online entity. They constantly evolve, and not keeping up will leave you in the dirt.

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