Mike Marchev has a saying every travel agent should repeat each day: “Your
clients are somebody else’s prospects.” With others in the
marketplace vying for the attention of your clients, it is important for
you to consider exactly how accessible the public perceives your travel
business. Accessibility is the sum of the characteristics that makes you easy
to remember, easy to find, approachable, likable, and worthy of trust. Each of
these elements are wrapped up in your approach to the market and should be
given fair consideration as you position your company in your community.
The public’s perception of your accessibility is shaped by how often they
see your brand and the brand image you project. If the elements of
your branding indicate a luxury travel niche, many consumers will be drawn to
it and some portion of the market will find it unapproachable. If your branding
efforts emphasize family travel, with images of children and families
enjoying vacations together, then you will very likely attract that
demographic. There is nothing wrong with either approach, but it is
vital the brand you intend to project is indeed the brand that is
reflected in your marketing efforts.
Your company name, logo, and contact information need to be “front and
center” in each marketing effort you undertake. These are the key graphical
elements by which your marketplace will identify and reach out
to you. Reproduce these elements consistently in each and every point of
contact where appropriate. The familiarity you thereby create is an important
component to the sense of accessibility people will have of your company – they
will feel as though they already know you, who you are, and what you do.
Likewise, your public relations efforts in your community should be geared
to creating a fundamental familiarity with your branding and market position.
The more “present” you are in your community, the more networking you
undertake, the more events you sponsor or for which you volunteer, the better
known will be your brand. The friendlier your persona, the more approachable
you are and the degree to which you can engage your clients on an emotional
level, the more approachable and accessible you will be perceived.
Remind your clients that you are there. How often do you reach out and touch
each and every client in a personal way? How about a phone call, a hand
written letter, or a lunch? Not to sell anything, but just to say
“hello!” Want clients to think of you as accessible? Begin by first
People do business with people. They want to engage with people they
like, appreciate, and trust. If your company has a flat, dull persona, it
is not likely consumers will perceive it as approachable. Clients want to
do business with a personality. They want to know the people in charge of
their plans, running the company, and protecting their interests. Your
marketing should be charged with personality.
The energy required for marketing in this manner is considerable. Being in
business requires a dynamic yet focused awareness of the impact of one’s brand
on the public. For a travel consultant engaged in very personal one-on-one
services, this means a personal investment in time and energy. Because, as a
travel agent, you are your own brand.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.