Creating powerful partnerships with like-minded, complementary businesses is one of the most over looked sources of lead generation among the travel agent community at large. But before I dive deeper, allow me to clarify the difference between a joint venture and a piped piper (as there always seem to be much confusion about the two):
A joint venture (JV) partnership is where you share resources as partners. This is a true collaboration whereby you each share a common target market and often times a common purpose and mission.
A piped piper drives leads to you, sometimes for a commission or in many cases to travel for free. This is also known as a glorified referral.
There’s a lot of education and seminars on how to find piped pipers within our industry, but very little on creating strategic joint ventures. And my theory is because there is a very small percentage of Travel Agents leveraging this lead generation strategy and it is not nearly as straight forward as securing a piped piper. So if you are ready to step up your game and create a lead generation strategy that attracts your ideal client to you like a magnet and with ease then read on!
Here is what you are going to need to get started:
1) Extreme clarity on your target market. And the more specific the better. For instance, if you are a Romance Travel Expert and you sell honeymoons and destination weddings, what type of Bride do you work with? Do they shop at David’s Bridal or at the high-end bridal boutique in your town? Are they fresh out of college or are they a 24/7 career woman? What wedding sites do they visit? What Facebook Fan Pages do they like? Knowing these very specific details about your prospect will help you understand which complementary businesses you can approach for partnerships.
2) A platform. Ok, I know what you are thinking….what is a platform? A platform is your distribution channels. Ok, I know what you are thinking now…..what is a distribution channel? A distribution channel is the vehicle through which you get your message out into the World. For example, lets say Royal Caribbean has a WOW Sale and you want to let your raving fans, clients and prospects know about it. If you could hit the send button right now to share the good word about this not-to-be-missed sale, then how many people would get it? 100? 200? 3,000? And, if you would post it to social media, how big is your Fan Base? How many people follow you on Twitter? To a prospective partner, your distribution channels are how you get your foot in the door. For example, if you want to partner with a high end bridal boutique in your area and you’ve built an audience via email subscribers and Facebook Fans of their target market and you can say,
“Hello Ms. Bridal Store Owner! I would welcome the opportunity to feature you on my Facebook business Fan Page. I have 5000 + Facebook Fans and many of them are young 20 something’s who recently got engaged or know someone who did. I feature a local business on my page every Wednesday because most of my followers are local. Can I feature you and your business to my audience?”
Coming at a potential partnership from a place of how you can help them first is always the best way to start. And you can help a potential JV by leveraging your platform.
3) Add value via juicy content. Small business owners are always looking for juicy content. You want to partner with businesses who have strong platforms (like you will!) and if their email list is large, then chances are your potential partner is always on the look out for a great article to share. What if you partnered with a winery? Perhaps you can add value by contributing an article on a wine-themed river cruise? The content ideas are endless!
4) And lastly, what you will need to get started is the ability to make peace with the fact that many of your potential JV’s will not respond to you, ignore your calls or flat out say no. The reality is that Travel Professionals give up way too easily. Remember to not take it personally if someone turns you down. It is simply a learning opportunity for you to refine your pitch, grow your platform and continue understanding the type of value you can add to other like-minded businesses who share a common target market with you. The bottom line is that conditions are never going to be perfect, so you just have to start and go from there!
Take a quick inventory of your platform and come up with ways to grow your distribution channels on a consistent basis. You can also ensure that you are very clear on who your target market is and then come up with at least 5 complementary businesses that you can call up and start a conversation with on how you can collaborate. Good luck and feel free to share your strategies with me! You can email me at Vanessa@travelbusinessu.com.