One of my pet peeves is the fact that many people don’t realize travel advisors exist anymore. Our own President underscored this sentiment this past summer when he made a statement that triggered quite a nerve within the travel industry:
“when was the last time somebody went to a bank teller instead of using the ATM, or used a travel agent instead of just going online? “
Many travel consultants were offended by this statement and vehemently defended their profession. The President was not making a statement about the lack of value provided by travel agents. He was simply putting words to the widely accepted perception of a travel agent.
Recently, I was getting my haircut and my stylist told me she had just got engaged and she was planning a destination wedding. I asked her if she was working with a Destination Wedding Specialist and she looked at me confused. She thought I was talking about the onsite wedding planner many resorts provide. So I spent the next 20 minutes educating her on the value of working with a Destination Wedding Specialist. She was so thankful. She had no idea such a thing existed.
And this is the problem. They don’t know you exist.
In the past 10-15 years, thousands and thousands of traditional travel agencies have vacated “Main Street.” When the travel agent left Main Street, she also left the awareness of the typical consumer.
You don’t have to convince me that there are thousands of competent travel agents that add value, provide an excellent service, and serve a great need. But unfortunately, I am not the one you have to convince. It’s the general public and the fact of the matter is, the accurate understanding of your profession is falling under the radar screen.
But the task of putting your profession back in the awareness of the consumer doesn’t fall on the President’s shoulders….it falls on yours. Each and every one of you that provide a stellar service, make dreams come true and serve a growing need to accumulate treasured moments and memories.
So how does one take on this task? By getting out there and hustling! What I mean is, make a commitment to marketing. But don’t just market the way you used to market (pushing products). You must learn to market YOU. You must claim your expert status and do what you can to get known for PROVIDING SOLUTIONS!!!
A travel agent markets products. A travel consultant markets solutions. Stop marketing your products and start marketing YOU.
My mother grew up as an only child and because of her father’s job, she moved frequently. She attended 6 different grammar schools in 8 years. One thing she learned was how to meet new people when you are the newcomer. She recognized that you have to get yourself out there, even if it feels hard or scary or uncomfortable. No matter how much you don’t want to, you must push yourself to go to social events, get involved, and introduce yourself to strangers to meet new people and feel part of the community.
Marketing is no different. It doesn’t always feel good. In fact, it can feel downright yucky. But it only feels yucky when you are chasing people. Whether you are aware of it or not, when you are pushing products and specials, you are chasing clients. When you DON’T specialize, you are chasing clients.
When you market authentically, by following the 4 legs: 1) Connect; 2) Inform; 3) Inspire; and 4) Call to Action, it doesn’t feel like marketing and it doesn’t feel yucky. People don’t feel like you are marketing either.
Get over the fact that you don’t like selling yourself, pretend you are a new kid on the block and start hustling. Be sure to follow the 4 critical authentic marketing legs in every marketing tool you use: 1) Connect; 2) Inform; 3) Inspire; and 4) Call to Action. For more information on how to do these things, please check out the Safari Guide Home Study System, www.safariguidesystem.com