Adam Goldstein advised Cruise3Sixty attendees to Be Professional - learn your craft and up your game.
Build Your Brand - what do people associate you with? For me, I'm working on "Cruising".
Be Responsible - RCL's partnership with WWF is huge, but you can start with small contributions to issues requiring care in your community.
Act with Integrity - honesty, respect, and a good code of ethics are essential to your success.
This week we are continuing with our look on how to grow your cruise business, as inspired by Adam Goldstein's keynote speech at Cruise3Sixty.
Lately the term "Travel Professional" has been replacing "Travel Agents". We are no longer "agents" selling trips on behalf of travel companies, we are now counsellors and advisors helping people fulfill their dreams. And that's a move in a great direction. But it means we need to take matters to heart and act like a professional. Devote yourself to learning all you can about cruising. Be up to date with the latest cruise news and industry trends, bone up on product knowledge, and use proper industry terms. Calling a ship a boat, mis-pronouncing a port name, or not knowing how to address seasickness all scream amateur. Your customers are going to see the difference and they will buy from someone who knows their stuff and speaks with confidence.
Build Your Brand
As mentioned in my last column, it is essential to stand out from the crowd. Adam defined a brand as a set of ideas in the mind of the consumer and how they associate those ideas to a company. If these ideas are positive and inspiring, it will lead the consumer to want to do business with the company. What do you want your clients to think of when they see your brand? More than just your agency name and logo, you need to send a clear message not only on what you sell, but what values you embrace and what your agency, and what you stand for - remembering that branding applies to an individual as well as a company.
One of the ways you can build your brand is through responsible actions in your daily activities beyond the doors of your agency. Don't we all want to do business with a person or a company that is honest, a good leader and one who makes positive contributions in the local community? Your goals don't have to be as lofty as Royal Caribbean's partnership with WWF to protect the oceans, but small steps can have a great effect. Whether it is donations to local charities, volunteering at county fairs, or sponsoring the school sports team, your participation creates awareness of your brand, and people come to associate you and your agency as a benefactor, which you might just benefit from by earning new business.
Act with Integrity
Integrity is another trait that inspires people to do business with you. Adam reminded us that a tainted reputation will spread through social media with lightning speed, so there are no "days off" from acting with integrity. Your clients look up to you and trust you to take good care of them and their money. Do not engage in any shady business activities or unscrupulous practices. Admit your mistakes if you made them, make amends and offer compensation if required. Taking advantage of a situation, no matter how minor, can have disastrous effect if you are caught. Lastly - and this is difficult - be kind to your competition. Too often we brag about the ways we are better by putting others down - we even see travel suppliers do it to each other. This is not the image you want to project to your customers. And if you lost the sale to someone else, learn from your shortfall and move forward.
Coming up....we'll wrap up with what to do with these customers once we get them.
Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 38 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of www.yourcruisecoach.com.