“It’s MY year alright. So don’t be sheepish about selling travel and don’t let others or things get your goat.”
THE HOW-TO MAGAZINE FOR TRAVEL TRADE PROFESSIONALS 2
2015 YEAR OF THE SHEEP
ARE YOU ON THE LIST?
SWITCHING ON TO OPPORTUNITY
THE MARKETING MAP
THE “WHERE TO?” QUESTION
GRAPHICS FOR 2015
OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF STARTING
A JOURNEY ON THE AMAZON – Anthony Dalton
TRAVEL ADVENTURES IN PSYCHO-PHOTOGRAPHY – Steve Gillick
JUST PUBLISHED – HOW TO SELL MORE BOOKS
WEATHER IS YOUR GREATEST SALES CHALLENGE!
SIGNING FOR SURVIVAL
SELLING GREEN IN 2015
SAINTS & TRAVELLERS
THE TRAVEL INSTITUTE
READ MORE ME HERE
The DESIRE to travel starts early and continues throughout one’s life – are you marketing to Generation Z?
Share your money making ideas in SELLING TRAVEL. CONTACT Steve Crowhurst firstname.lastname@example.org 250-738-0064 www.sellingtravel.net Publisher: SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com Contributors Steve Crowhurst
Attention Suppliers: Advertising in SELLING TRAVEL reaches the serious business-minded travel agent. Promote your products and services using Selling Travel’s unique promotional formula – you write the articles on how to sell your own products offering step-by-step selling tips, tools and techniques that you know have worked for your agency accounts. Full page rates range from $300 to $425 based on number of insertions. Remember, if you can’t sell it to them, they can’t sell it for you! Please note that Selling Travel, owned and published by SMP Training Co, is not connected in any way to Selling Travel magazine published by BMI Publishing Ltd., and based in the UK. The latter publication focuses entirely on destination and travel/tourism product training and is circulated solely to the UK and Ireland travel industries. To benefit from this resource visit www.sellingtravel.co.uk and be sure to subscribe.
SELLING TRAVEL is owned and published by Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. Protected by International Copyright Law. IC TRAVEL AGENT can be shared, forwarded, cut and pasted but not sold, resold or in any way monetized. Using any images or content from IC TRAVEL AGENT must be sourced as follows: “Copyright SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com” SMP Training Co. 568 Country Club Drive, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada, V9K-1G1 Note: Steve Crowhurst is not responsible for outcomes based on how you interpret or use the ideas in SELLING TRAVEL. T: 250-738-0064.
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SALES & MARKETING TIPS, TOOLS & TECHNIQUES FOR ALL TRAVEL TRADE PROFESSIONALS
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Steve Crowhurst, Publisher
NEW YEAR AND A RE-TOOLED SELLING TRAVEL… Happy New Year! Hope you had a happy and safe time over the holidays and managed to factor in what you are going to be doing this year to generate new business. And time is of the essence as they say. The clock is ticking already and by the time you read this issue of Selling Travel it will be one week into 2015. So in a word, we’re all late! Better get that pen to paper, mouse to keyboard and start working your marketing magic – and ST is here to help. New for 2015: You might notice a change in the Selling Travel tag line and here’s the scoop behind it. I’ve noticed that ICs, OSRs and Home Based travel agents want to be acknowledged and included in the trade listings as travel counsellors / advisors etc., and not highlighted as home based. As selling travel today can happen from anywhere the travel seller might be at any given moment, I have made the strategic move to amalgamate IC Travel Agent with Selling Travel in order to publish one magazine for ALL and one that “speaks” to the main activity at hand: selling travel and generating new business. Hope you like and support the outcome. Keeping with the one for ALL concept The Travel Agent’s Store has become the Selling Travel Store and will reside on the Selling Travel website. So less clicks more tips. And so to this issue based on Switching On Your Imagination and tapping into a world of selling opportunities. Here’s to your continued success in SELLING TRAVEL. Best regards. Steve Crowhurst, CTC, CTM Hon. email@example.com www.sellingtravel.net
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Every travel agent, supplier and tourism board is looking for it. Searching for it in fact. That “thing” everyone is looking for is opportunity. There are thousands of opportunities passing each and every seller of travel, each and every day. Whether or not the opportunity is recognised for what it is as it passes by, is another thing and, well, that’s an opportunity too! One way to see them and even attract them, these opportunities, is to become opportunity minded. It means you must switch on and sharpen all your senses to pick up on the vibes that indicate a new or a repetitive been-there-done-that opportunity. It means opening every door you come to. Let’s explore beyond the door and switch on some new opportunities:
Seizing opportunity in the travel trade has always been based on past experience coupled with a well-practiced skill set that includes being able to project forward and also to expect the unexpected. The travel agent that has “lived” through the various ups and downs the travel trade has experienced over the past few years allows that agent to judge an opportunity on recent and historical fact. Recent events such as the Ebola outbreak, air crashes recovered and lost, ferry fires and cruise ship viruses are not new to veteran travel agents. Knowing how to handle the outcome of these events is the key to the opportunity. In some cases you would ride the publicity wave and in others you would market away from the main story.
When it comes to anything related to disasters you’ll need to be sensitive in your marketing, but never stop marketing. If cruising is the mass media target, promote land based tours. If a coach or tour bus has crashed, promote cruising. It’s very simple in terms of keeping your name out there and promoting travel in your local area and to your existing clients. There are two types of opportunities – one is real and the other false. The false opportunity tends to favour newcomers to selling travel and can, in any given moment, empty their bank account very quickly. For instance, some newcomers to the travel industry want to create tours to the ‘old country’ where they themselves (or their parents) were born, or the place they love to visit.
It’s a great idea however, usually there are packages to most of these places and generally their pricing just cannot be beaten or undercut and if the place of origin is obscure, the market is too small even if it exists. I have known TAs spending thousands of dollars creating their own group departures to commonly visited countries to where package tours exist and for less money. The typical outcome is a huge financial loss. The same thing applies to promoting huge sporting events and buying a block of seats to events. The average TA does not have the deep pockets required and cannot afford the amount of marketing to push the package and seat combo out to the general public in a consistent way. Once again the opportunity kills them financially. So what we’re looking for here is the opportunity that can be more or less easily fulfilled and the opportunity that can generate a profit, before the local and general competition get wind of it. The usual glory time before anyone else catches on is about two-seconds or so after your first ad! Recently there has been a few opportunities that should have more than a couple of travel agency backrooms humming with excitement. One was President Obama’s mention of Cuba and the US getting a little closer, a little friendlier towards one another. Now that is an opportunity and who would want it any different? Certainly not the travel trade in the US. Canada and a few
other countries have been selling their clients to Cuba for a long time and as we well know, thousands of Americans have travelled north to Canada to travel back down to Cuba on a Canadian tour or package. So the US travel trade want in big time. Just look at the graphic of the old car above. There are hundreds of these cars in Cuba and that makes Cuba a car lovers and car collectors dream destination. That’s one opportunity that jumps out at you when any Cuba tourism videos are played. Right off the bat, the sign says, Car Lovers Tours of Cuba which would include the paperwork and shipping of any car back to the US. The most rewarding opportunities are not always tied to destinations – many ideas are geared to marketing and come to you through various channels. Take the time to study the new media and become excellent
at using social media and apps to market yourself no matter what you are selling. The Era of Fusion Travel Marketing After putting it off for some time, I finally sat down to enjoy sushi a la fusion. I had tried some before but the fusion was more confusion. However this time, and this particular restaurant, had it down pat. The old sushi mixed with new ideas of taste and ingredients that created a marvellous taste experience and opportunity for the chef. Indeed that chef showed their culinary skills and it was delicious. So let’s move from the kitchen to the travel agency to follow the concept of Fusion Travel Marketing. My definition of Fusion Travel Marketing as pertained to selling travel is this: The merging and blending of various media elements with different marketing tools, techniques and styles into a cohesive and seamless marketing union. Fusion Travel Marketing requires you to step out a little father from the edge. It means to bring together certain elements that work well together and also to bring together certain elements or themes that most travel agents would shy away from. Think about blending colours, or going just black & white, or all brown, retro, grunge, using backdrops, cartoons, mascots… and yes any and all of these can market a beach, a cruise, a land tour and more. The next component to fuse here is the medium through which your message will be marketed. We all know a one shot promo will deliver nothing in return. Advertising, marketing, words, images all need to be repeated many times in order for the general public and your clients to take notice.
Take notice and respond is the outcome you are trying to activate. Perhaps you are an emarketer – well to fuse another medium with your emails would be video, podcasts, a link to your blog. Colour IS Important Colour as you may know represents some 60-70% of a person’s buying response. Think of a woman shopping for new attire and the comment makes sense. Does it apply to marketing travel? You bet. Some colours are attractive and some not. Some combinations work and some do not. It’s important then that your initial slogan is presented in the best font and colour. Black on white, or gold on black is always classy – but what about blue and green, pastel shades or a more vibrant and vivid colour combination that represents the destination or trip? You know that old saying of “blue and green should never be seen” and that’s what most people have heard and repeat. But there’s a word or two missing and it is this: “…unless there’s a colour in between.” Once you know the missing text more opportunities present themselves. Fusion Travel Marketing can start. Everything Works Whenever you face a colour combination challenge just look around the world you live in and in particular the natural world. There you will find that all colours go together. Everything works when it is “done” the right way. That and a ton of money! Money allows ideas and opportunities to flourish and be completed. Whether they cause a return on the overall investment is another thing. So for those (of us) who do not possess deep pockets there is a need to
fuse correctly through trial and error or selfstudy. Most travel agency chains have their own marketing department that both managers and staff can talk with and for the independent travel seller working from home, the home-based head office has all the knowledge you can draw on too. Opportunities In 2015 Each travel trade publication has already delivered their top ten places to visit in 2015 along with recommendations by suppliers. The only information missing which supersedes the above is what your clients want to experience this year. Hence the article in this issue about The “WHERE TO?” Question. Before you start chasing your supplier’s recommendations or what you read in the trade papers, ask your clients, each and every one of them, what their travel plans are for 2015. You’ll want to do this now. After your clients have voiced where they want to go and what they wish to experience this year, you can plot your educational needs and your marketing plan that will build on the information your clients have given you. Once that is done, you can relax and explore the suggestions made by the trade. Be Safe and Green There are a few things that travellers demand across all generations. The majority want access to clean washrooms, bed-bug free rooms, and they want to be safe and have access to means of getting home should certain world events take place. Think weather to terror and everything in between. Here’s where you can shine and focus on this travel safe opportunity.
Make a point of being app aware and learn how to use and demo various travel apps. Be well aware of safety issues and also which hotels are certified green, bug free, offer family and senior services and assistance. Make sure you know the weather patterns for wherever your clients are travelling. This is not difficult as let’s say about 25 of your clients will be travelling at any given time and heading off to perhaps ten different destinations. A quick look at a weather website does the job. If a hurricane is heading in their direction you’ll be making plans for them. If a volcano in Europe is about to blow – same thing, you are making plans for those clients too. The opportunity here is to be EARTH aware, PLANET aware, WEATHER aware… and most certainly, when it comes to cruising, you MUST know and be able to advise your cruise clients and especially your first timers, what to do in an emergency. Advise them how the lifeboats operate and also how those white canisters housing the rubber lifeboat / dingy operate, open etc. To promote TRAVEL SAFETY in 2015 is a huge opportunity, but you must know what you are talking about. The words, “Trust me… you’ll be fine!” will come back to haunt you 100%. Every Activity is a Niche Opportunity Your opportunity is probably staring at you right now. Let’s start with what you like to do, your interests, your hobbies, what you are passionate about and the destinations where you love to go. Work through that statement and you’ll have three or four niche markets from the get go. Ask the same questions of each client and collate their responses.
The Presentation Opportunity As I like to say, better to sell one group at a time versus one couple. And that holds true unless that ‘couple’ just purchased a $300K world cruise! In which case, I’ll invoke the build-a-group opportunity and suggest asking that couple how many of their friends will be joining them. It’s a natural thing to ask no matter what the booking amounts to. “What a wonderful cruise you will have, 90 days away, best cabin available and just look at that itinerary… now, is there anyone else who should be going with you…?” If that’s not a typical situation for you, you should start delivering monthly presentations on and about your niche or preferred destination where you can develop a group following. Take the time to explore the Selling Travel Store where you will find a series of eGuides on this very topic. This promotional format fits right into the concept of Fusion Travel Marketing where you can tap into other media outlets to promote your event. Social media although it is wide reaching and no doubt you have people who like your Facebook page from halfway around the world, you can still use it to promote your local event. Once you post the event on your Facebook page, give it a BOOST for about $10 and you’ll gain further reach in the hundreds. Well worth the ten bucks and if one person who had not yet Liked your page receives your information AND books, then you are a winner. If they live close by, they will turn up at your event too and now they are a validation for you.
Start to plan your monthly event and start factoring in the best and most affordable marketing outlets for your wallet. The “I’m Going With You” Promotion When a customer reads that their travel agent is also leading the tour group, well the word will spread. People like to know that YOU are going along to take care of certain situations when they arise. Tour management is not tour guiding. You’ll have step on guides or one guide throughout the tour for that, what you do is mix and mingle with your clients and of course the trade as in hotel managers, coach driver etc. Your clients would also expect that you know some neat places, cafes, shops, scenic spots for photographs and more. Another opportunity here and if you are top of your game when it comes to your niche destination then you can promote this as fact to attract. The Marketing Map The map on the next page is based on the London underground system. It is excellent. It is a free download and here’s where you go to get it: http://www.marketingmap.co.uk/ Print it off. Study it. Take the journey and journeys it represents and use this format to build that marketing plan… The Fusion Travel Marketing Plan. Perhaps work with someone who can add their input as you discuss which elements to fuse together for 2015. Good Luck! Right over to you. Enjoy the first issue of Selling Travel for 2015 and make sure you look out for those opportunities. If you have an opportunity to review and would like some help, send an email request to Skype.
If you have not yet asked this question of your clients, you still have time. Usually the question as to where your clients are planning to travel to is asked in November for the coming year. If you missed this date then fear not, you can ask it now and the timing is still good. You’ll be appealing to your client’s New Year plans and perhaps one or two resolutions to travel more. Also, all the holiday hassles are out of the way and the year ahead is looming large. Here’s how to make good use of this question.
The first thing to overcome is asking the question itself. You are not in any way shape or form bothering your client. I know some travel agents feel this type of question is an invasion of privacy and not something that should be done. It is however part of your customer service model and should be invoked each and every year. It is also a major component of your marketing plan. The information you receive back from your clients will save you wasted marketing time, effort and misspent money, too. The benefit to your client is this: by telling you in advance about the trip they are dreaming of, allows you to explore more options and value adds on their behalf. Also, should more than one couple want to travel to a particular destination around the same timing then you have the makings of a small group that you can add to over time. How, when and where you ask this question is the key and you can ask it more than once. Perhaps you would like to host a Where To event and ask the question to everyone in audience. You might deliver a show and tell of places to visit in 2015 and then ask the
audience to complete a questionnaire and hand it in. Always a good idea to capture the information fresh from the audience versus sending them home to click online to your website. Whether sending an email or handing out a questionnaire here’s how you might lead into the core questions: Each year we work closely with you our clients as we strive to get you the best value for your travel dollar. By reviewing your answers to the following questions we will be able to look for special rates, value adds, upgrades and discounts well in advance of your travel dates. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Planning to travel where in 2015? When do you plan on travelling? How many people will be travelling? Your estimated budget for this trip? Any special requirements?
That’s it. Job done. You can add to the above or create your own questions – just make sure you receive definitive responses that allow you to plan your year by monthly potential and investigate your client’s needs well in advance.
If you want to reach out and touch your clients where they reside online you’ll want to start using graphics that relate to current times and those “times” would be social media based, smartphone’d and definitely digital. Talking about moving away from the very, very old graphics often found in so many e-Flyers and looking for current imagery. You can create them yourself or purchase them. In fact you can purchase 800,000 images in a box if you wish. Also worth noting is the ‘flat’ image which has taken over from all things rounded or 3-D. Let’s take a look at the following ideas:
Tablet and smartphone images: You can either take pictures of your own tablet and smartphone or you can find ready-made graphics. Here’s my iPhone in its Survivor case. To make use of this image I’ll need to cover the screen and to do that, you just click on Shapes and select the rectangle – then draw out the rectangle to cover the screen and finally add a black fill.
Okay, here’s the almost finished image. All you need to do now is add the message. You can use a scene of a beach if you wish too. It’s up to you as this will be a static image and used in a flyer or sent out by email.
If you search online you can also locate FREE tablet images. Here’s how I used such a tablet border. I mocked up the image using a cloud background, a mugshot, a pie chart image and added the text. Using SnagIt I screen captured the image to lock it all in one place and then laid over the tablet image. Used SnagIt once again and below is the finished product.
Speaking the Language of Graphics You do not need to speak Gen Y or Gen X or Boomer lingo… but your graphics should do the talking for you. Using current tools that everyone is using, adding in colourful imagery or Marvel comic characters or adding a trending font can all work for you.
This what a flat image looks like and you’ll find these are preferred to many of the shiny vector images normally associated with social media icons. There are companies such as Superstamps
who create graphical “stickers” like these:
Just send a photo of yourself to a cartoonist and they will create your very own cartoon of you. Or, if you happen to be on or at a Disney property look for the cartoonist and pay the $30 or more and have one of these created - mine shown above. Super Heroes & Villains You can follow the trends of Marvel comic heroes and villains and create your own hero right on the Marvel Comic’s webpage. Or, ask your cartoonist to create one for you. Here’s the one I created some time ago… not sure where he fits just yet, but perhaps a heading would read: “I need a cheaper flight!”
They are perfect for adding to or layering over a newsletter, promotional flyer or brochure cover before you save to PDF for instance. The cost of this kit is $27! Tune into Cartoons From mascots to Marvel comics there’s a toon out there waiting for you. Toons are humourous and most people need a little extra happiness in their lives and you can deliver that built around your next marketing activity. You might even have a custom designed cartoon / mascot created for your agency.
The Video Graphic Video is in. It’s not going away anytime too soon so you’d best learn how to create your own videos and start sending them out to your clients.
The most obvious video site is YouTube and then there is Vimeo for a much classier look and then you can even create your own video site using Sprout Video and finally, why not play your own videos on your own website? Makes sense sending all the traffic back to your own website versus to YouTube. They really do not need the promotion. So focus on yourself and then upload to YouTube for the viral opportunity. Choosing Your Video Format Latest video trends for 2015 still include the usual scene of the destination with your call me text captioned somewhere in the credits. That’s all good. However today, you have a choice of “usual” to what is known as White Board or Hand Sketched Videos. There are several software programs that you can purchase but these do take time to create. It might be best to have someone create this type of video for you, but of course centered and focused on your ideas to promote your current tour, niche or destination.
You can orchestrate the hand to move and write your text, push images into the frame and much more. Some programs allow you to add hand written text over video… imagine that. There you are strolling along the beach talking about your tour and then across the bottom of the video, over the sand, text appears to support your audio. Now that is current, trending and right up front for 2015.
You’ll find that using PNG images (Portable Network Graphics) otherwise known as transparent works better for you. It means you can place yourself over another image – so if that selfie of you is turned into a PNG with the background removed, you can now layer yourself on another image – standing atop a mountain, sitting inside the latest train or aircraft, walking where you haven’t walked etc. PNG images of YOU are great!
Here’s one of me with the one that was too large to take home! Honest. I’ll let you add the caption you think might go with this image. Now, if you had a fishing niche, you could add, “We know where to find the big ones!”
The message then is to watch what all other industries are doing and note their graphics, slogans, content and then compare to the travel trade. See what you can borrow and re purpose in how you promote your own travel offers. One thing is for sure, your website must have the very best, the ultimate in terms of graphics and video content. Double check your website now and upgrade where needed. This is the #1 task for you heading into 2015.
I’ve just purchase an annual subscription with GraphicStock and the images are excellent and low cost. Check it out and save through my referral: here
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I am often asked about going out on one’s own, to become one’s own boss and whether or not it would be a sound move. My typical response is “Why not?” Life is way too short to worry about certain things, but then certain things need to be in place before you step out on your own.
For those who can thrive on being alone and able to multitask like never before. Marketing, selling, closing, accounting, paperwork, education, Fam trips… is your life repeated each and every day. But then, when YOU decide, you can travel anywhere you choose. Nothing to stop you. You are the boss.
Many travel agents wonder if they will be able to generate the income they are making now. The answer to that is absolutely and even more if you desire to work as hard or harder. For some however, their personality is not the type that survives without a team around them, being directed by management and having structure in their working environment. If this is you, don’t leave. It would be a costly mistake.
Today of course you have so many home based support systems that your first order of the day is to sift and sort through their features and benefits and pricing structure to make sure they offer you what you want. Once that’s done, half of your daily chores are taken care of and so your main focus is to use the marketing tools you now have access to and then sharpen your selling, closing skills.
The question about generating income is answered this way: if you making $50,000 now, you’ll make $50,000 when you step out on your own. There will be some pluses too – re expenses and writing off your travel, and business expenses etc. Overall, the financial picture is a little rosier running your own business. Out of the $50,000 you tend to retain more tax wise. The home-based support system you choose will have all the marketing tools you need, they will have e-mail services, accounting services, training and development… leaving you to focus as mentioned on your sales and service. Overcoming the fear of starting out on your own is the biggest hurdle. You will never know the thrill of going-it-alone until you actually do it. Then when you close that first group booking… the exhilaration is all yours. You are off and running. I’ll take you back to the first week I stepped away from my corporate position to become a travel & tourism management consultant and had my first piece of business. A travel agency owner needed a letter written and asked if I could word it for him, based on the impact he needed it to present. My fee was only $50… for four lines of typing that took me minutes to do. I can remember thinking, “WOW! What could I charge for a 30-page manual?” Well that answer soon came and it was $5,000!!! So you see, that first client once you step out on your own is the most important as it tells you that you can generate a return on your knowledge and your time and your effort. If you never start however, you’ll never finish. Perhaps this is where you are – revving up the engine but not releasing the clutch.
One thing you’ll need before stepping out on your own is a client base. A client list. And as you know, you cannot take (steal) the client list you serve at your agency of employment. If the clients you service are NOT yours, meaning you did not bring them into the agency you work for, then you cannot leave with that list without doing jail time. If the client list is yours then you are off to the races. If you are about to start from scratch then you focus on the marketing tools your home-based support program offers and work 24/7 to attract a new list of clients. Here however you can decide who you want as a customer. You no longer have to service that grumpy ole fella who was a long term customer of the agency you worked for. Now you can choose based on the destination and type of travel you are passionate about. In this way you start your business by engaging clients you like and want to do business with. For sure your first year will be heavy in work and light in commission. Year two however will be a different story as you would have made good use of all social media tools, your reputation for the niche you sell would have gone viral, your YouTube account is packed with quality video content and have fifty been-there-seen-that selfies to use in your self-promotion. So get into the driver`s seat of your own career. Turn on the engine and take off. Drive it like you mean it and leave the fear of starting to the guy behind you. When you`ve had enough of running your own show, you can always return to work for someone else – that opportunity will never go away. There is a shortage of qualified travel agents and that is your safety net for trying out your entrepreneurial skills.
Anthony Dalton, FRGS, FRCGS
It’s deep. It’s wide. It’s muddy. It is a big river by any stretch of the imagination: at 6,750 kilometres, it is the longest in the world.
river washes the banks so hard they crumble and slide into the current carrying full-grown trees with the mud.
On its long passage to the sea, the mighty torrent which will become the Amazon tumbles down from glaciers in the Andes to the jungles of Peru, where it becomes a working river. From there, its navigable length snakes a meandering route from the Peruvian border to the Atlantic Ocean, a journey of over 3,400 kilometres. Soon after leaving Peru it washes the southern extremity of Colombia before cutting Brazil in two as it courses through the vast Amazon rain forest.
The local multi-deck, passenger-carrying riverboats look top heavy as they motor up and down stream from village to village and from town to town. Known by the locals as gaiolas, or bird-cages, the gaily painted boats are crowded with rainbows of hammocks slung side by side on their covered decks.
Christmas Day, 2011. At anchor off Macapa, the first city in from the Atlantic on the north side of the delta. M.V. Pacific Princess shimmers in the early morning heat. The Amazon’s water temperature is 29 ͦC soon after daybreak. The air is humid and even hotter. The river is a muddy, pinkish brown. Dolphins, some pink, some grey, arc out of the water as they move with sensuous grace through their chosen element. The delta stretches 300 kilometres from north to south. It is filled with hundreds of islands and a maze of waterways. The river, up which we will travel, is a major highway through the northern half of South America. Ocean freighters, cruise ships, oil tankers, local riverboats carrying crowds of passengers, open boats and fragile canoes all share its length and its moods. The Amazon’s banks are multi-hued. The earth changes colour as we cruise past, from sandy to light brown and to deep reds, all topped by a variety of bright green vegetation – grasses, bushes and tall trees. We pass vast expanses of grasslands, thick bush and great forests. In times of flood, the
At Santarem, where the clean, black Rio Tapajos joins the brown of the Amazon, the dividing line between the two rivers is visible for a long distance. The same is true near Manaus, where the merger of the equally black Rio Negro and the silt-laden Rio Solimoes takes many kilometres before the two become one in colour. In the end, the muddy brown flow of the main river overwhelms that of the lesser streams. A report from 1855 referred to Santarem as “the most civilised and important settlement on the banks of the main river from Peru to the Atlantic.” Manaus was bigger and better known, but it was on the Rio Negro. Santarem has grown from 2,500 inhabitants in 1855 to 300,000 today. It is recognized as having the best freshwater beaches in Brazil. An important soybean shipment port, Santarem is second only to Manaus in importance on the Amazon River. I talked with riverboat captains at Santarem, curious about the costs of travelling by traditional craft. I learned that the fare from Santarem to Manaus, for a journey of 2 to 3 days, would cost a minimum of $6.00 without food – bring your own hammock. An airconditioned private cabin (with a ceiling fan, not a real air-conditioner) could be as much as $45, also without food. Either way, considering the novelty of stopping at a series of jungle villages en route, the fares
are definite travel bargains, although the boats do tend to travel fully loaded with passengers and freight. The site of Manaus was first settled in 1669 and became much expanded during the rubber boom of the 1800s. It is a startling sight from the river, situated as it is 1,600 kilometres upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. Carved out of the jungle, it has grown from a village to a cosmopolitan city of 1.86 million people. Pacific Princess ties up at the main dock, towering over the dozens of gaiolas moored nearby and a welcoming brass band playing, of course, Brazil. The magnificent opera house – the Amazon Theatre – is an elegant architectural relic of Brazil’s ‘belle époque’ and built in the Renaissance style, mostly with materials imported from Europe. Construction began in 1884 and continued until 1896. The completed structure cost a staggering 10 million dollars. It has been said that Enrico Caruso performed there, but that may not be true. A conflicting story says that Caruso arrived on a steamer, heard there was an epidemic of a disease such as cholera, and returned home without setting foot ashore. With the decline of the rubber era, the opera house fell silent and stayed that way for 90 years. It reopened in 2001 after extensive renovations and now, once again, world class musicians and singers perform in the middle of the Amazon jungle. The theatre’s dome can be seen from the river. It is only a few minutes’ walk away. Down at the waterfront, the bars are busy for a holiday weekend. The cruise ship attracts everyone’s attention, including a denizen of the river.
A big caiman, or alligator, over four metres long, glides through the rubbish of the busy port. Two cormorants paddle out of its way, without undue haste. On a large floating mound of refuse a handful of vultures eat their fill of a city’s waste. The caiman ignores it all. Moving slowly, its deadly snout, eyes and the top of its serrated tail just visible above the water, it approaches the dock where our white cruise ship is moored. On the adjacent dock a local points out the approaching reptile. Passengers from the ship watch in awe as the caiman watches them. One senses it is hoping someone will fall in. It waits for a while, then, disappointed, it drifts away in search of an easier meal. A motorized canoe ride away from Manaus, the Amazonian rain-forest is a peaceful break from the bustling city. There are said to be 15,000 streams that feed this mighty river. We follow one of them to a few shacks and an open-air bar. From there we stroll through the trees on an elevated wooden walkway. All around us Amazonia sings with unseen creatures and a few visible ones. A black-crowned night heron, fishing from a semi-submerged log in a pond, ignores us as we pass. In a large clearing, a natural freshwater lake is home to giant Victoria lily pads – some as much as two metres in diameter. A variety of bird species, herons, storks and ducks, tip-toe over the green, plate-like surfaces of the lilies in search of food. In the canopy high above a troop of spider monkeys screech at each other, or perhaps at us. A slight movement beside one lily reveals a large caiman watching and waiting, only the top half of its scaly, black head, its eyes and nostrils showing above the surface.
At a house in the forest beside a significant side stream, a handful of children stagger down to the water’s edge carrying a gigantic anaconda between them. At another we are offered bored-looking sloths to hold. This is the Amazon’s version of a photo op. Take a photo – pay a few coins for the privilege. To solve the problem of being swept away in times of flood, some enterprising householders have built their homes on huge log pontoons moored out of the river but ready to be poled to safety in an emergency. The 19th century British naturalist, Henry W. Bates, spent 11 years exploring the Amazon and collecting specimens of its creatures for the Natural History Museum in London. He roamed the river’s banks from the delta near Belem all the way up stream to at least Ega, 600 kilometres beyond Manaus. During his many collecting expeditions in Amazonia, Bates sent 14,712 different species of creatures to England. Of that impressive
number, roughly 8,000 were previously unknown to science. By any standard, it was a magnificent achievement. Bates described his feelings about the Amazon forest and its incredible artery as he was about to leave Brazil forever in the equatorial summer of 1859. He wrote, “On the evening of the 3rd of June, I took a last view of the glorious forest for which I had so much love, and to explore which I had devoted so many years.” He continued by admitting that his saddest moments took place the following night as the ship he was on found a wind to take her out of the Amazon delta. “…I felt that the last link which connected me with the land of so many pleasing recollections was broken.” I was only on the Amazon for a few weeks but I too felt a sense of loss as the small cruise ship sailed out of the delta, left the big river behind and turned north into the Atlantic Ocean.
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Travel Adventures in Psycho-photography Steve Gillick
Steve Gillick indulging his passion to point and shoot...but sometimes it also helps to keep your eyes open!
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Cameras and videos are empowerment tools. We think of them as our personal means of capturing moments in time to remember, savour, re-live and memorialize. But the very art of clicking the button, that releases the shutter, that records the image, that releases the endorphins, that results in your slide presentation, is a subliminal statement of power. “I can capture this moment”. “I can control time by re-living the moment”. “I can exercise control over things that were once relegated to the gods”. And so it goes with travel. We often discuss social media in the context of relationshipbuilding but this is something in which our cameras have been engaging us since the first Daguerreotypes were produced in the 1840’s. It may have been our relationship to ourselves through portraiture, and being able to ‘see ourselves’ in another medium, other than a mirror. Or it may have been our relationship to others in the sense that “here is my photo for you to remember me”. And certainly it was a way of converting oral history—which was a main modus for transferring knowledge in many societies and communities—into something tangible. In illiterate societies, pictures were the main conduit for lessons on morality (take religious paintings of heaven and hell, for example) or remembrance, inventory, adoration, dreaming and celebration. And now in 2014 we embrace and thrill to the explosion of the photo genre with Academy Award-winning selfies, hundreds of apps to adorn our cell phones and iPads, as well as software programs to show off our presentation skills.
Travel photos not only capture moments in time but also help to convey, graphically, what serendipity is all about. It’s the discovery of the pyramids all over again, but more important, it’s YOUR discovery of the pyramids. It’s your relationship to the first moment of ‘wow’. Previous writings or explorations are irrelevant. It’s all about you. It’s all about pride and accomplishment and boasting and feeling good. It matters not whether the photo is out of focus, off colour, crooked, cropped or heavily in need of photo-shopping. The medium is the message. The fact that you created the image is what’s important. And guess what? Tangible proof of your journey is a long lasting and subliminal call to action for you to travel again. Travellers look to collect more memories in order to accumulate more souvenirs in the true meaning of the word. Literally a ‘souvenir’ means ‘to come from below’ or ‘come to mind’; ‘to remember’ (‘Sou’ (under) & ‘Venire’(to come)). The ‘psycho’ (literally, ‘the mind’) part of the term ‘psycho-photography’, comes into play when you fully appreciate the mechanisms that cause you to lug around an apparatus (small or large) and click it to your heart’s content during your beloved vacation time. (Thank goodness for 64 gigabyte memory cards!) For many travellers, the camera is the portal that leads them from one world – the world of routine existence: work, home, family— to the world of enchantment. The camera is the passport, the magical incantation that opens caves and passages. The modern day storybook tale of ‘Open Sesame’. The camera is the security blanket that comforts the introvert and
many times transports the photographer into expressive extroversion. It allows access to places that were off limits. It allows the traveller to get up close and personal with architecture, sculpture, faces, emotions and events. Consider the power of photographing a Michelangelo in no way that it’s been done before. And you can do it because it’s YOUR vision. It’s your interpretation of that marble fold or the glint in the eye. It’s what’s been called the Seven-Billion-People Syndrome. In 2014 the world population reached 7 billion. And now, there you are in the early morning, visiting the Bayon temple in Angkor Wat, before the crowds of tourists arrive. You enter a passageway and take a photo of a grouping of Apsaras—celestial nymphs— floating dreamily on a rock surface, where they have enchanted pilgrims since the 13th Century. They are perfectly framed by an ancient stone archway. And you are the only one there at that specific moment in time. Out of the 7 billion people on the planet, it’s all about you and your aloneness with the amazing scene. You are not only connecting
with these mystical, mythical deities but you’ve captured that connection with that magical instrument called, the camera. The power of having taken that photo envelopes your imagination and catapults you into ‘the travel mind’ whereby your travels and adventures are truly yours to cherish. The challenge for you as a travel consultant is to keep providing the client with a neverending list of possibilities to consider: “What else can I do”; “Where else can I go”, “What else can I capture on my memory card and own for myself’. The next time you click a shutter or turn on the video or point your iPad at an intriguing scene, consider the power that your simple gesture wields. But also, from a travel consultant’s sales & marketing perspective, don’t underestimate the power of the camera in enchanting your clients to travel— and travel again. ✈
Now there’s a heading that everyone reads. Well, almost everyone. All you need do is turn a few heads and have them look in your direction. The idea here is to ride on the recognition factor of climate change and use this term in your marketing to attract attention to your latest travel offer.
These days everyone needs a change of climate, something new in their lives, in their travels and you are just the right person to make that happen. So where have you been, or what have you read about that would be a change for your clients? Is there a new cruise ship itinerary that would be a change? Could you promote a winter vacation to your sun loving clients – and I mean a real winter vacation such as a week up north. Up north could be Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, Scandinavia… you know, NORTH! Wouldn’t that be a change of climate and then some?
You see where this is going. It’s a shock and awe travel program for some of your clients and an adventure for the others. Keep your eye on the climate in a general sense too. The weather patterns are changing and that means catastrophe for some countries, destinations, villages and resort hotels. On the other hand you might develop a niche in storm chasing, or huge wave watching. Seasons are changing too and that is one more aspect of climate change to watch out for. Peak seasons are moving in terms of weather, not pricing. Some of the best weather is now during the shoulder season.
Thereâ€™s a new sales theme called The Book is the NEW Business Card and if you are a writer then this eGuide will help you get your publication marketed and hopefully sold. I have partnered with author Anthony Dalton on this Guide as I work with Anthony to help market his 14 books, which means every idea in this publication we actually do.
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Arrow designed by Steve Crowhurst
Is it just me noticing this or is everyone living in a fantasy world? Creatures with thirty three heads, teeth only a dentist would enjoy flossing and skin that would never make it into being a handbag. I am always of the mind that anything and everything in this world of ours can be turned into a niche market and as the fantasy market looms large, sure enough I went ahunting. And sure enough, you’ll know of the Harry Potter tours, and now the Hunger Games tours too. So what is your fantasy that you could develop into a niche?
I’ll start with mine to give you time to ponder your response. I’ve always been fascinated with blades and more importantly Japanese blades such as the well-known Samurai sword or katana. The short sword, the Wakizashi and the small dagger – the Tanto. Along the way various movies have been based on Japanese themes and those creative Hollywood minds, designers, writers and artists have given us the world of FANTASY… even fantasy blades. And yes, there is a travel market for those who collect such things. To enter this niche market of Fantasy Travel you would do well to catch the latest movies of this genre plus decide which end of the word fantasy you want to grasp. There’s those fang based werewolf flicks, to the 300 war bashing tribes to children’s fantasy movies to fantasy love & loss movies – and then there’s the books such as Game of Thrones.
And wouldn’t you know it – the tours are already in place and Ireland is the destination where much of the filming was done. You can explore online for other film locations, sites, countries, etc.
It’s always the case when a movie is a hit – tours to the film locations are created usually within a seconds of the opening date. If you would like to attract the Gen X & Y traveller and those Boomers who also follow the fantasy worlds then you’ll need to use fantastical designs, alphabets and graphics in your marketing. To see what’s out there, Google ‘fantasy designs’ and drill down from there.
Look for websites and books featuring fantasy alphabets too. You can purchase fantasy fonts for Word and also learn to create your own alphabet too. Fantasy travel, fantasy tourism – it is a current genre and theme should you want to study it and as mentioned there’s no end to it in sight. Only more to come and that means a growing client base that fancies the fantastical journey no matter where it’s headed. Perhaps that’s the name of your new website: Fantastical Journeys. It has a nice ring to it. Before closing out, here’s one more of my fantasy arrowhead designs. It is addictive once you start, so good luck and turn your fantasy travel ideas into magical moola!
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Weather is your greatest sales challenge!
The weather is what most tourists are chasing and they want the best of it. They want the best weather for the season they are travelling in. To some of your clients that would mean plenty of sunshine and the heat that goes with it. For those like me, it’s the crisp fall weather that is preferred. For your skiing clientele – their preference would be snow and sunshine. The challenge is, the weather is not doing what it normally does. No. It is doing what it wants to do and in many cases upsetting everyone’s vacation plans not to mention your marketing plans.
When you write your marketing plan this year, best to click to your favourite weather website and check out the coming predictions as they pertain to your niche destination or part of the world you sell the most. If you sell around the Pacific Rim you’ll be more than aware of the Ring of Fire and the potential for earth tremors, quakes and tsunamis.
If you are new to selling travel then take note that the world-wide weather is your friend and your enemy too. You’ll need to make a study of the weather patterns and seasonal change - both typical and expected. There are several websites where you can locate the forecast for your niche destination. You can also use the current weather 14 day trending pattern to market your tours today. Simply do a screen capture and then email that image to your clients.
If you sell into Europe, you’ll know about those pesky volcanoes that spew those glorious flight stopping clouds. Elsewhere you would be selling against typical weather patterns such as the monsoon period, however some of these regular patterns are changing. They are moving up or down a few weeks. Some weather patterns are causing major havoc due to much heavier rain, wind and ice. Seasonality has always been a selling challenge however it does seem that climate change is giving you just a little more to think about and plan for. Snow in the mountains may not be as compact as it once was and therefore the potential for avalanches is heightened. Rivers may be running higher than normal causing wide-spread flooding. Waves may be three times their size as they roll in. A challenge to some, and an opportunity to others.
Here’s the weather in Kingston, Jamaica (at the time I clicked) and so in real time you would email this image to your sun loving clients with a covering message that says something like: “IT’S HOT IN JAMAICA!” and follow this by promoting one or two packages or your group departure if you have one. Learning to use the weather to help you sell, or promote a different part of the world is going to be a major factor going forward. Start now. Embrace your favourite weather channel and sell, sell, sell!
After watching those two women taken hostage in Australia and forced to hold a flag in the window of the coffee shop, one apparently signing an unmistakeable gesture, moving her finger across her throat – it came to me that every traveller should learn the basics of signing for survival. Knowing how to sign the words ‘hostage’ and ‘gun’ would be a start. Being able to sign more information would also help those who can see you and planning your rescue.
As this event in Australia played out, I started to think about a what-if scenario. What would I do if I were caught up in such a situation? The advice from those that know is to remain as calm as possible, do what the hostage taker demands and never “go for it” unless there is clear indication that you are bigger, stronger, faster and very sure of your winning over the hostage taker. Never for instance grab their gun which in this event, so the media reported, the coffee shop manager bravely tried to do. Had he waited a split second longer, he would have hopefully survived. As few of us are trained in wrestling a gun or rifle from a hyper hostage taker the result is usually not good. To be trained in signing, in this case, could have given the police much more information that would have hopefully led to an earlier conclusion. Hard to say, however to have a knowledge of signing in this day and age of travelling can only be a plus.
If you click to the link on the START ASL image here you’ll be able to access more than enough information.
Naturally there’s an app for that and this too and here’s two that I have found. Cannot say anything more about them as I have not yet downloaded them. Leave it you to do your due diligence.
On the next page you’ll notice a chart for signing the English language alphabet. At minimum this chart would help you sign a distress message as and when required which we hope is never. On a lighter note, you may be able to help someone else through your new knowledge.
You can start here with this chart, which is FREE and can be found at the link below. Print it out and hand it to your clients and also practice with your travel agency colleagues. Expecting the unexpected is one key factor in travelling safely.
The green machine is being ramped up in various areas of our world. The need for speed is all important and that’s a fact. It’s a tough job though to ask everyone to stop what they have been so used to doing personally and corporately and start a Green lifestyle. The same applies to your customers who were travelling their way and now they must travel green if they wish to be considered worthy of travelling their own planet. With that in mind let’s explore how you can break your customer’s mean travel habits and market Green Travel & Tourism to them the coming year.
Last year I sailed on the MV Uchuk III from Gold River to Friendly Cove. We were heading to a rendezvous with history. Friendly Cove is where Captain James Cook anchored in the late 1700’s after a pretty tough voyage and his quest to find access to the Northwest Passage. Following in the footsteps of past explorers and where they explored, where they walked you can touch the walls and stairs of centuries old buildings and you let your hand rub across an ancient headstone knowing that someone in history has touched that same spot. When we arrived at Friendly Cove we walked the path to the pebbled beach where Cook must have walked. The pebbles had been worn smooth by the centuries of being churned in the surf.
My concern for the planet is real but it gets in the way of my pursuits and my love of stones, pebbles and rocks. Hard to explain, but they fascinate me. They are millions of years old. To touch one, well… most people would skim it across the water, I hold it and drift away wondering what this one pebble has “witnessed” in its lifetime. Habitually, I look for certain pebbles and I put them in my pocket, carry them home to look at. My Green outlook is not Mean, but somewhere in between - more Grean I would say. Since I started hitchhiking in my mid-teens, there has always been a pebble, a stone, a local coin, a branch… travelling with me. I’m trying to break the habit, but it is a tough thing to do.
Onboard the Uchuck I met the man you was contracted to boost tourism to Friendly Cove. As we chatted about this I mentioned my collecting of pebbles from the beach. He shared with me that when tour groups visit, one of his ideas is to allow each person to choose a pebble from the beach and to take it home. I explored the idea with him and he stated that that one pebble will do more to attract tourists to the area than thousands of dollars spent on advertising. A concept of Pebble Based Viral Marketing I thought. The viral marketing effect of each pebble makes each pebble worth thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. I believed him because anyone who visits my home, gets the Uchuk story, they see the photos and they hold and rub the pebbles I brought home. This idea is very similar to what a traveller told me about his visit to the fossil fields at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Drumheller – you were allowed to take home certain fossil bits if you found them. Not the complete T’Rex as it were, but bits. Bits that are of no use scientifically, but essential to boosting tourism. Between what you “pick up” naturally to what you purchased, to your photographs you have what you need to help you sell green hotels, tours and more. Even the green amenity kit that comes with your hotel room can help. Bring home those hotel soaps and shampoos so that you can display them and promote the hotel, resort or spa. Your photographs are probably the greenest way to promote Green Travel to your customers. Once taken you can upload to your computer and email, post and share them with your customers. No paper involved. No printing to be done. Keeping it all digital keeps it green. So we know that many of your customers will have long term travel habits that need to
be reckoned with. That aside you can sell almost any form or type of travel and make it a Green Departure. Many of your preferred ITC suppliers and Cruise and Tour suppliers offer a green styled trip and if not, they’ll no doubt be connected to a carbon off-setting program that your customers can buy into and confess their Green travel sins. You can promote hybrid rental cars and SUV’s plus hotels, resorts and spas that are green in almost every aspect of running the property… the only challenge is the flight. Not yet Green but getting there – and as mentioned there are off-setting programs to help green up the flight and reduce your customers overall carbon footprint. Once at the Green hotel, your customers will be met with many a message about turning off the taps, the lights, reusing their towels etc. The learning curve is built in. Even during the flight, your customer will be offered the option of using their own headsets to access the in-flight entertainment and reduce the throw-away threat to the environment or they can buy a set for $3 which will eventually move them to use their own and not purchase the airline headset. With oil prices dropping and recent agreements between world leaders to, in principle, further adopt a green attitude there will even more attention to going green. When price is at stake however many a traveller will forego Green in favour of Mean – that means the cheapest flight possible and forget the foot-print reduction purchase. You could argue that many travellers are changing their hotel chains, giving up Green hotels for a lower cost room elsewhere. As far as I know, many and most hotels, low cost or not, have a Green Program as in re-using the towels which is more about saving costs for the hotels which indirectly services the going green concept. A reduction in the number of towels to launder saves on labour
costs, water usage and more. So, Green by default. There is no need to bring the term green into the selling scenario. The Green machine is operating behind the scenes and doing very nicely. Many unconcerned travellers are going green without knowing it. Totally unaware. This means you just sell like you usually do and book what you know to be eco and planet friendly. The customer will enjoy their trip. Drive the hybrid, re-use their towels etc., and close the gate as requested. They would have travelled green without a fuss. Cruise ships have been operating green for years now, hotels too, car rental firms the same… tour companies also. So quite honestly all you have to do is sell the same suppliers you have always sold as so many have already made the switch to go green.
On the other hand, when a customer sits down across your desk and ‘demands’ green… (“We want to trek in the mountains with a low impact company…”) you had better be able to state which tour companies are 100% green. To attract your true Greenies and not snub your regular shades-of-green clients you might want to promote your agency as Earth Friendly and leave it at that. “Doing Our Best For You and The Universe” is the message you are trying to get across – and try to make sure this does not become translated as “more expensive” in the customer’s mind. If in doubt, sell travel like you lay a lawn – Green Side Up! You can’t lose. You’ll reap what you sow anyway and to that end so will Planet Earth. Sell smart. Sell Green. Now about my pebbles. Green, mean or marketing machine. I’m still deciding.
Using slogans like this one will warm you towards green conscious travellers without alienating your clients who are not quite ‘there’ yet.
How would you change the above slogan to suit your own ideas?
Would you like to mix religious tours with travel connections? This is not about taking a group to view religious sites and relics it’s a niche that references the various patron saints of travellers and wayfarers and this in turn leads to gorgeous scenery, churches and the tracing of long lost men and women of the faith they followed. Along the way there would also be a few pubs and rivers to sit by and in general bask in the light of someone known to protect those on the road and for whatever reason they travelled it. I’m sure you’ve heard about, read about and perhaps even prayed to St. Christopher. You might even wear a medallion featuring his likeness. But what about St. Botolph? And then what about the other 21 saints who also take care of us travellers? Chances are these days we need more than one and St. Christopher, the rumour goes, never existed. There are Celtic gods and Hindu deities and many more who watch us as we go about the world. There are also symbols and amulets and mantras and prayers that can be thought, said, written and worn to ward of the evil that befalls present day travellers. And then a quick fast-forward to present day and the app store where you can download SOS apps that may save you from whatever predicament you are in. That said I went looking for the obvious St. Christopher app – that one could engage with on your smartphone and invoke his presence to assist in travelling safe. Guess what? There isn’t an app for that!! Who knew?
If you are an enterprising travel agent dealing in religious vacations – there’s your sign. A St. Christopher app. Back to the theme of this page: there is a niche market here and it’s a niche within a niche as I like to say. Somewhere within the realms of religious travel is this niche to build a trip, a tour around one of the saints, gods, deities and anyone else you can find and attach this tour to a fabulous destination and itinerary where the said protector once lived. You might even design your own amulet or visit http://www.wowamulets.com/ to view what they offer. Right over to you. A new idea. A new niche. A chance to generate additional income from creating merchandise that ties into your Saints & Travellers tour of England, Ireland, Scotland, India, Japan… and your favourite niche destination too.
Do you have a website? Have to ask because not every agency has one or needs one. It all depends on your customer’s preferred style of buying travel and doing business with you. If you do have a website then chances are you have the standard tabs and links ranging from Home to Contact Us. Somewhere in between the Home and Contact Us tab is the About Us tab. Click on the About Us tab and you scoot to a page where as a consumer I can read all about the people who would be planning my trip and taking my money. Ya think? Nope. Typically what you’d find is a whole bunch of nothing. Just marketing-speak. Kafuffle with a dash of booyaa dotted with non-relevant words. In other words what you find at the end of the About Us tab, link and page doesn’t tell the reader anything About US as in YOU.
On the other hand there are some About Us pages that really do the job. Well laid out, they tell the story in a way that keeps you glued to the website. You want to go deeper into the site. You want to make friends with these people. Best of all, you go there feeling like you know them and can trust them. WOW! Eh. They even listed their names and uploaded a photo of each member of staff from the owner or chief executive down. Let’s explore how you can turn your About Us page into the marketing tool it was meant to be. How Important is Your About Us Page? A variety of surveys and web design firms will tell you that second to the home page, the majority of visitors click on the About Us link. The About Us tab indicates to a visitor that the company is willing to talk about themselves, share some information, introduce the team and state their experience. Some will include mission statements and why, out of all the options the consumer has, this company is the best to buy travel from. In short – the consumer
wants to know who they are dealing with and whether or not they are credible. My Usual Click Path It’s true, my usual clicking route after landing on the Home page is the About Us tab followed by the Contact Us link. Initially I always look for “Where do these guys live?” In other words, where’s my money going? If the address takes me off my continent I’ll read about the products, catch the keywords and go surfing for a local firm. I also like to see the faces of who is about to profit from my purchase. No info, no mug shots, no nuttin’… I’m usually gone. Of course I wouldn’t expect a hotel in Austria to have a local address… so if I was booking direct, I’m good with that. However, booking that Austrian hotel through a travel agency with no information about who this agent is and where they hang out… well, click delete. Next. What to Include in Your About Us Page As mentioned some travel agencies have done an excellent job, others have gone the
less is more route and some have gone towards overkill with a wall of text, which is worse than not enough info. Boredom also moves the visitor to click and be gone. Here’s a few About Us page additions and ideas for you to consider. Remember, travel is a happy business. You sell dreams. The people visiting your website have those dreams. There are needs to be fulfilled. The visitor wants to spend $1,000 or more. They want to know who you are and what you can do. Okay, let’s go. Here a few ideas to add to your About US page: 1. Your location address, contact information, image of your agency and link to the map and driving directions page. It’s okay to duplicate information. 2. Present your staff / team with their full names and an excellent business like photograph / publicity shot. Lose the scruffy attire shots and cell phone images. Do this right. Get the photographs taken by a pro. Some TA’s are concerned re full names and photographs being on the site for fear of being harassed or stalked. So we invoke the old statement that 85% of what we worry about never happens. It could. But it’s a long shot. If anything does happen, then the cyber police would be activated by the (your) agency. If anyone is watching anyone then chances are they are across the street watching – not on your website. 3. Offer a link under each of your team’s portraits to their bio page. This bio is not a resume for a job, or meant for personal expressions about children, cats and dogs. Keep it corporate. Nothing personal. Explain each person’s expertise, extensive travels, and their specialty. Add their direct emails with a call to action.
4. List the agency’s years of being in the business, awards, certifications, customer service statements, any guarantees you offer and testimonials. 5. Aways tell the visitor why you are the best option for them. Answer this question to find your answer: “Out of all the options in the world today, why should a customer book their travel with you, me, us?” 6. Are you environmentally friendly? Are you a Green TA? If so mention it and who or which cause you support. Or simply state that you will look for vacations, hotels, cruise lines with the least impact on the planet. No need to go too deep – booking green is simple enough. So mention it. It might cause someone to book with you versus the other agency. In short then: best to be brief, worst to be boring. State worthy facts and be credible. Deliver on the WIFFM. Do update your About Us page every few months or at least check it. Did anyone leave or join? Have you changed the page? Old news is always old news. About Face So, the message is to make sure your About Us page markets YOU. Whatever you do to your About Us page should support your sales strategy. It should push the visitor to the rest of your site where they can play, stay, read, dream and book. More so, the rest of your site should in the final analysis, cause the visitor to make a phone call or send you an email. After that it’s all ABOUT YOU and how well you can convert the caller / inquiry into a sale.
There are so many big travel firms with cold, cold About Us pages. If that’s YOU – make the changes now. As a smaller enterprise or home based agent you could increase your sales and win the business simply by selling yourself using your About ME page to warm up the client into doing business with YOU.
Below are five tips that will help you change your About Us page. Tip #5 is very important as VIDEO is the marketing tool from here on. Get yourself on camera and deliver a wonderful “performance” that is casual in nature and shows you relaxed and talking about your travels, your passion for travel and then welcome and invite your viewers to travel with you.
Change About Us to ABOUT ME
Show a current business photo…
List where you have travelled…
Promote your niche…
Add a short video clip of YOU
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Hereâ€™s where you find even more ideas on how to sell travel and boost your revenues. Ct is the trade magazine and every article I write is always geared to new business generation for YOU and your suppliers. The content ranges from a step by step how-to article to a comment about a current topic. Many of the articles are worth reviewing with your suppliers should you be able to work together to generate that new dollar for all. Click here to read.
The full Canadian Traveller logo represents the consumer magazine that now reaches millions of readers. Even if you have your own in-house magazine it is always a good idea to tell your clients about the consumer CT and the main reason for that is some supplements are shared between the trade and consumer magazine. Now you know what your client is reading, you can, from the trade issue, learn how to sell various destinations and then make the call. Everything CT does targets new business generation and hopes to put more money in your jeans. Click here to read.
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SALES & MARKETING TIPS, TOOLS & TECHNIQUES FOR ALL TRAVEL TRADE PROFESSIONALS
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Sales & Marketing Tips, Tools & Techniques for All Travel Trade Professionals