Timing Is Everything

Richard Earls, Travel Research Online

This weekend marked the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Long ago, humanity lived by such agricultural markers. But your clients, and all of the potential clients “out there” have their own schedules. They travel when they are ready. Their travel plans have nothing to do with your preparations, business plans or agendas. But someday, Ms. Client will look at Mr. Client and say something like “Let’s go to Ireland this year.” Before they next think of price or plans or preparations, will your clients’ thoughts turn to you?

Too often, we treat marketing like it’s a bag of “tricks” and techniques. Sales down? Better start marketing. What should we do? Email “blast”? Take out an ad? What works? Maybe a tweet or two?

But what if the timing of your email broadcast doesn’t coincide with your client’s own timing? What if it comes three days after they booked elsewhere? What if they see your cruise advertisement three days before they ever think about Ireland?

The odds of a random marketing effort crossing paths at the exact moment necessary with a client’s needs are fairly slim. As the owner of a travel practice, your task is to create positive moments of interaction with your clients and prospects. Taking ownership of as much mind-share as possible is the key to being always present and ready for opportunity when it arises.

Marketing’s goal is to create an association in your client’s mind with your company and any mention of the words “travel” or “vacation.” You want the association to be so strong and immediate that the client would not even think of travelling without thinking of you.

Associations that strong are not the result of sporadic efforts at marketing.

Building your brand in a community is a long-term commitment, the result of a campaign of strategically sound tactics working together to raise the profile of your travel practice. Marketing is a discipline. Marketing is based on sound fundamentals, not on gimmicks. Saturating a market with your presence, following up with clients on a continual basis, forming relationships instead of engaging in transactions – those are the keys to being there when your clients most need you.

Here’s the problem. There is very little real sales and marketing training in this industry. There is no end to product training. But very few agents ever take an honest-to-goodness sales course or a series of lessons in marketing.

Let’s resolve to stay top of mind. Take it upon yourself to get better at what you do.

  1. Firstly, find good sales and marketing training and invest in yourself.
  2. Secondly, begin to ask your suppliers not just for product features, but also for good lessons in the sales and marketing of their products.
  3. Finally, sit down and write down a marketing plan, or at the very least, sales goals for yourself.

It is something of a testament to our industry that so many travel consultants do so well without what every other business sees as absolutely necessary – written marketing plans. It begs the question- How much better would those same travel consultants do if they turned their marketing into a constant discipline instead of a part-time concern? How much more could you achieve if you brought a real marketing focus to your travel practice?

Timing is everything. It’s time to get serious about your sales and marketing training. Your clients will very likely be travelling this year. Who will they will think to call when they do?

Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.

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