Take five or ten minutes and write down your memories of your all-time favorite vacation. Now do the same thing for the local merchant you most love to patronize – even though there’s a big box retailer or online company that sells the same thing(s).
Now read your notes. Did you write sentences, bullet points? Did you scratch the surface, or did you take the time to go deeper about your fondest vacation, your most treasured local shopkeeper?
I have interviewed hundreds of travel agents and entrepreneurs in the 30-plus years I have been a public relations professional, writer, and editor. While each and every one of these individuals has been different, there has been one common thread that linked them all.
They all had a compelling personal narrative that made them who they are.
Now mind you, finding that narrative wasn’t always easy. In fact, I would tell you it was downright difficult. That’s why I get paid to uncover these incredible stories. Very simply,...
Professionalism, we hear about it every day. For some reason the subject comes up more & more often in discussion. The majority of travel agents I observe do exhibit a high degree of professionalism. They are the first to point out there is no place in this business for those who behave otherwise. However, some agents, particularly new ones, will sometimes let their passion get in the way of good business and common sense.
What does it mean to be or act “professionally”? Here are a five things I believe epitomize what it means to be a travel professional.
With football season just around the corner, I am reminded of the beautiful, yet brutal game I played in my youth. I loved the game and while my career ended after high school. I can’t wait for each new season and my beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs to take the field. It is a sight to see. Every play, be it offensive or defensive, is carefully orchestrated, choreographed, and practiced to perfection.
Sales is similar and probably why it is so common to find sports analogies intertwined with business lessons. In both environments a team is executing strategies that have been thought out and rehearsed. Above all – they are both contact sports, each in their own way.
In business “contact” can mean three things. The first “contacts” can be your team, your support network. Very few achieve a high level of success without help from others. Even with individual sports such as boxing, swimming,...
We often hear this expression around patriotic holidays about the sacrifices made by our service men and women. Many have given life and limb, so we can continue to enjoy the personal freedoms we have and is something that should never be taken for granted.
Personal Freedom is not free, and neither is financial freedom. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and personal sacrifice to be successful in any field- especially one as competitive as travel sales.
When I speak around the world, it is common for agents especially new ones, to ask what it takes to get up on stage and pick up awards. Many of them, equate sales achievements to financial success. Unfortunately, it’s just not true.
Suppliers reward those who sell in large volumes. It’s not only in travel, but in virtually every industry and with every product, there are volume discounts. Some, in our business, rely on the low margin / high volume model. With high...
Most luxury product designers control their pricing by controlling distribution. They sell exclusively through their own branded stores or high-end retailers such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
In her book “Let Them Eat Cake” author and luxury goods researcher Pam Danziger states, “The business of experiential luxuries remains largely one based on consumers paying full list price. Travel is the only widely discounted experiential luxury where 64% of buyers got a “deal” - otherwise they expect to pay full price for luxury goods & services.” Unfortunately, this observation can be applied to all segments of travel, not just to luxury purchases.
Retail travel distribution is a highly fragmented channel. Virtually anyone can put up a website and be a “travel agent”, so the competition for the sale can be intense.
“Rebating” or “Discounting” as we know it, is perhaps the single most...
Marketing is a big, esoteric term that is thrown around like the holy grail. But what is it really? In my experience most people in the retail channel do not know what marketing is – they just know they must have it.
To most business professionals, marketing and advertising are the same thing and while there are many similarities – like sales and marketing, they are different. The easiest way to understand is to imagine it as a pie: pumpkin, pecan, it doesn’t really matter. We will call it the marketing pie, and each slice represents a subset of the overall pie. Each slice represents: market analysis, pricing, customer service, advertising, public relations, and community involvement.
When we dig deep, we find that most are not investing their money in marketing, what they are really buying is just one slice of the pie - advertising.
The real estate industry does marketing just about better than any other, they embrace each slice of the marketing pie. The...
If you have been following me for any length of time, you have probably noticed I only use a few quotes to reinforce my messages. One of my favorites is from a management guru, the late Peter Drucker, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers.”
The cost of getting a new customer is astronomically high in terms of both money and time. In fact, it is not unusual to lose money or barely break even on their first transaction. That’s right, run the numbers and I think you may be in for a shock once you factor in real costs, time and overhead – not just the marketing expenditures.
We usually spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on new customer acquisition, then tend to fail at giving customer retention the respect it deserves.
I always ask my audiences, “What percentage of your business is from repeat customers?” The response is typically 60, 70, or even 80%. Sometimes I get 40- 50%, but not often. It might surprise...
What would you do if you worked in a bricks and mortar storefront business and your walk-in traffic dropped by 50%? Yikes, you’d probably be thinking about moving or advertising, right?
Well, as a travel, tourism or hospitality pro, moving is probably not in the cards. So that leaves advertising. Now that organic social reaching is dropping quicker than you can say ‘travel’, (some estimate a 50% drop year over year) we need to power up our social ad strategy.
Social ads are the ‘way of the world’ when it comes to sky-rocketing the number of people you reach online. Creating custom audiences of people who want and need to travel is easy, then building ads that appeal to that audience is key to reaching the right people at the right time and on the right social site.
Did you know that you can target Facebook & Instagram ads by:
I was recently interviewing a prospective client, who repeatedly asked, “Dan, what are we going to do about my marketing plan?” After reviewing her efforts, I told her, “Maybe a tweak or two - here and there - but for the most part your marketing is fine.” I replied, “What’s missing is a sales plan.” The phone went silent, and I waited while she processed what I had said. “A sales plan?” she asked, “I’m not even sure what that is. I thought all I needed was a marketing plan.” As I explained the purpose of a sales plan, I could practically see the light go on in her head.
A marketing plan does not guarantee that you will sell anything. It does guarantee a substantial investment to attract and retain clients, but I repeat – a marketing plan does not guarantee sales.
As travel professionals, we operate on a business model virtually identical to our friends who sell real...
Many of us came into this business with high hopes and big dreams. You poured your heart and soul into your business, but you keep hitting walls all around you. 24/7 is not enough and you can barely pay the bills, much less have anything left over to pay yourself. Your spouse is pressuring you to quit.
It is easy to quit and maybe you should. However, in my opinion, if you are doing all the right sales activities, there is no reason why your travel agency should not be successful.
As a teenager, I spent several summers working in a variety of construction jobs. One of my favorites was with a masonry contractor building foundations. I was so impressed by how meticulously the masons laid the blocks. Just a fraction of an inch off level could have a disastrous effect on the rest of the structure. The taller the building the more exaggerated the effect (picture the leaning tower of Pisa).
Like a building, it’s the...