THE E-MAGAZINE THAT FOCUSES ON THE REALITY OF SELLING TRAVEL
ARE YOU THE TRUSTED TRAVEL ADVISOR THAT TRAVELLERS ARE LOOKING FOR?
TABLE OF CONTENTS – ST MAY 2013
3 6 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 21 22 24 27 28 30 31 32
Editorial Trust ME I’m A Travel Agent Tuning In Referrals Are The Outcome Of Being A Trusted Travel Advisor I’d Like To Trust You But Your Information Is All Wrong! Does Your Host Agency Have the Right Reputation 4U? Business Etiquette If Truth Be Told – Steve Gillick Building a Trusted Reputation Skyping With Steve The Trusted Travel Advisor – Cory Andrichuk 5 Strategic Alliances – Andy Sokolovich
Roll Up! Roll Up! The Social Set Up
The Travel TweetUP Earth Day New Tools CTIE Certified Travel Industry Executive
Publisher: SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com Contributors Steve Crowhurst Steve Gillick Cory Andrichuk Andy Sokolovich Copy Editor Lisa McDougall
Selling Travel is owned and published by Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. Protected by International Copyright Law. Selling Travel can be shared, forwarded, cut and pasted but not sold, resold or in anyway monetized. Using any images or content from Selling Travel 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 or on the Selling Travel Website.
EDITORIAL – APRIL 2013
Trust Me, I’m a Travel Agent… Last month we focused on selling with credibility which was all about proving that you have been, seen and bought the t‐shirt. This month we address the shift in what consumers are looking for and what travel agents should migrate towards and that is a relationship based on trust. This move to being a ‘trusted advisor’ starts in your mind and how you feel about yourself as a professional advisor on a par with an accountant, a lawyer, financial planner and local auto repair technician. You move in excellent company if you can see yourself rated this high. ANNOUNCING The idea of being trusted scares the heck out of some people in the travel trade. Being trusted brings with it a whole new set of A New Sister Magazine challenges such as benchmarked skills and talents you must live up to. When you are a trusted advisor you are no longer protected by that casual reference of being “just a …” ‐ now you are “the…” and the main one at that. You are the trusted travel advisor of record. Your word is gold, it’s the truth. You know the things others are willing to pay for. To gain that position of being a trusted travel advisor on a par with your clients other trusted business advisors means marketing yourself with confidence and being able to stand above the rest of the local travel community. We’ll explore this elevation of your profile and more in this issue. I also have the pleasure of introducing Andy Sokolovich, a new contributor to Selling Travel. Be sure to check out his website and find out why your business may become BENT if you don’t You can find it HERE. attend to certain aspects that Andy would love to tell you about. All you need do now is read through this issue of ST, study the methods and ideas and put them into practice. Here’s to a very successful month. SKYPE WITH STEVE This program is underway and All the BEST! so far, well received. Look for the Skype With Steve page in Steve Crowhurst, CTC, CTM this issue. Publisher and New Business Generator email@example.com Page 3
JUST PUBLISHED If you own, manage or supervise a travel agency this magazine is meant for you. If your career path includes managing, you should start reading TAM now. CLICK IMAGE TO READ
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Are They Being Served? Are You Sure? What Is Customer Service? Generational Service Social Service The DAZZLING Customer Service Model Creating Your Customer Service Statement IS Everyone Fulfilling Their Service Role? How Do You Stay In Touch? Selling Service and Servicing The Sale Marketing Your Customer Service The Service Recovery Plan How Much Business Should Your Customer Service Attract? The Issue Of Travel Safety and Your Female Clients Customer Appreciation Events Why Should Someone Buy Travel From YOU?
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He looks the part right? Sure he does. I mean he’s got the shades, the Aloha shirt… he’s a travel agent, right? No? WUWT? How trustworthy are you? I know you’ll answer 100% ‐ as you should. How does your next client know that they can trust you 100%? What have you told the world about your skills and talents and travel knowledge that would pre‐sell any future business you might conduct? Here’s the trustworthy hurdle that needs to be jumped and it’s not a recent occurrence as travel agents have been dancing with this partner for many, many years. Every so often something happens in the world of travel that puts current and future clients on alert. The Internet is their news source and they receive that news, as you know, instantly from their social networks, friends, family and RSS newsfeeds. At the moment there is a cloud over cruise line operations, women travelling to certain destinations, fraudulent reviews, fraudulent travel agents, a dearth of inexperienced ICs and reports that travel agents are too expensive, charge fees and not quite up to par with the knowledge they profess to have. What this boils down to is this: a reputation (not yours) has gone before you and you must prove it wrong. You must make an effort to promote your skills and talents and worldly travels – plus the level of trust your clients put in you. As a trusted travel advisor your reputation should never be at stake. You must never lose a chance to build your reputation by stating where you’ve been and what you have seen. List your accomplishments, proudly state how many clients you have
booked and list credentials that set you apart from ‘the rest’. There are many travel consultants employed by large travel brands who attend official company approved training, and who have earned their CTC, cruise and specialty designations. There are numerous agency owners and managers with 20, 30 and 40 years of travel in their history and many of those same travel agents have gone the IC route and good on ‘em. These dedicated travel agents are in fact the thoroughbreds of the trade and still in the race. Trust is an issue right now. From recent cruise events, bogus reviews on certain websites (a fleapit B&B/hotel was raised to near 5 star status!) and beach locations that require crossing a 4 lane highway before there’s any sand between your toes. As I write this page, believe it or not, a telephone call, a recording actually, telling me that I have a $2,500 travel credit and to retrieve it I should hit #3 on the telephone keypad. Hmm… where was I? Oh yes… the trust factor and the travel biz. Cut to the chase ‐ the opportunity for you to market your trustworthiness is now. Take a look at what the Brits are doing. There is an entire campaign in the UK to attract shopping back to the High Street and see what the magazine TTG is doing to help.
CHECK THIS OUT. Here is
This charter delivers four pledges that any travel agent taking part in this campaign should subscribe to. Is this charter idea something you could use to promote yourself or your chain of agencies? Could you involve your local community to support such a scheme to keep business local versus booked online? The UK event is a government sponsored entity and too large for you to initiate locally – however, it’s the theme I am pushing here. Take the idea, discuss it, see what comes of it. Does the consumer know they can trust you? Have you promoted your trustworthiness? Are your ads trustworthy? How about your website ‐ is it a cluncker or is it well laid out, professional looking, attractive with nothing dating from last year – which reminds me: I was clicking through agency websites recently and came across an agency that still had their 2012 Cruise Guide posted right there on their Home Page. Of course I sent an email. It took awhile but now I see the 2013 Cruise Guide is posted. Did I get a ‘thank you’? Nope. How unprofessional. You’re welcome I say. In a recent Travel Weekly article by Editor in and question that interested me for this Chief, Arnie Weissmann, he let us into the Trust Me article is this one: Weissmann: So conversation between the chief editors of who's the expert? The local providing on‐ Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, National the‐ground information? The travel Geographic Traveler, the New York Times, professional? You and your editors? Travel + Leisure and USA Today who where invited to convene in New York by The editors responses are for the most part Weissmann. The gathering was for the based on surveys of their own readership eighth annual Travel Weekly Consumer plus various studies they have access to. It was clear that consumer trust is an issue Travel Editors Roundtable. You can read the with many a traveller preferring a entire article here. recommendation from a peer versus an The panel conversations are prompted by expert. We’ve read before that perhaps questions from Weissmann. The segment some online reviews are phoney and that Page 8
Permission to print extracts granted by Arnie Weissmann
the charter created for the Trust in Travel Agents campaign.
causes distrust especially amongst the internet savvy younger generation who know how to access a local review from a friend of a friend of a friend. The been‐there‐seen‐that review by a local travel agent is gaining merit. Although, today there are so many clients who have also been there and seen it more times than their travel agent, it begs the question: so who is the expert? As a travel agent you cannot be a specialist without having seen the destination you specialize in, and one visit does not an expert make. Trust here, too, is suspect.* One of the editors stated that, “… the travel agents on our advisory board are doing extremely well. Most of them are agency heads, and they have reputation going for them. But the niche people who develop a focus seem to do really well. Luxury travelers still are relying on these experts, they're using TripAdvisor as a backup. And another editor offered this about being a specialist:* “We really judge the travel specialists on our list by how much time
they spend in the destination they represent. Some live in the destination, others go there many times a year. Otherwise you're not going to know about the new restaurant or the cool little hotel. It really matters.” Marketing Your Trusted Travel Advisor Status: Here’s where you can set yourself apart and you must do it professionally otherwise you could separate yourself from your competitors the wrong way. The idea here is to show YOU are trustworthy, and not suggest your competitors are not. That said, your competition will read into your promo whatever they want to. Just be aware of your wording and how it will come across in the marketplace. Your high street credibility is very important. The many client validations you have received will prove your status.
Do you have many postcards and emails from your clients saying “WOW!”? Of course you do. Use these validations of trust. Post them on your website and social media – nice and large. Trust me!
Let everyone know where you’ve been. Build trust by marketing your knowledge.
ALL TRUSTED TRAVEL AGENTS ARE SWITCHED ON AND TUNING IN! As all travel agents know the word is engagement. Everyone must engage. There are endless ways to engage with a client and hundreds of channels through which to do this. The image on the other page is a metaphor for engaging your clients by tuning in to the channels they tune into. Let’s explore how you can build trust and become the agent of record by tuning in and listening more. To be on the same wave length as your clients means you have surveyed your client base and spent time to analyze each persons travel and online profile. For clients who are not form fillers, or survey completers, you should make the call and chat or text with them to generate a personal travel profile then update your CRM files. Today, your customer’s travel profile should also include information about their online social and shopping habits. This information would include the networks they belong to and especially where they go to get their travel news. You’ve read it here many times, that YOU should be the news channel for your clients. You should be letting them know about all things travel related and especially travel that matches their profile. This is not an easy task. It takes time to complete, however once you do this you can focus on mass marketing yourself to all clients and then marketing specific opportunities to segmented groups of clients ‐ cruisers for instance. Page 11
Asking what news your clients want to receive and how your clients want to receive their news is one way to tune in. Personally I find myself clicking that unsubscribe ink more often than not these days. I have too many information channels. Your client is no doubt facing the same thing – too much info’ and will at some point reduce their intake. Once you identify the best route to your clients eyes and ears then you can truly tune into their travel needs and prove yourself to be their trusted travel advisor. Let’s say you have just received a promotional email from a supplier. The promotion is a reduction in price for a specific tour. What would a client feel about you as they receive an email like this: “…a fantastic promotion just came across my desk and as I read it, you came to mind right away. It seems to fit your profile and what you listed as the places you’d like to visit. I can offer you this tour for this amount…” Now that is a travel agent that is tuned into what their customers are wanting from a trusted travel advisor. When you wear the mantle of travel agent you also have the responsibility of ‘investing’ your clients hard earned cash into the best of all travel arrangements their money can buy. The return on their investment will be memories, photographs and a wonderful time to be shared with their fellow traveller/s. Find the right channel for each and every client, listen up and sell.
REFERRALS ARE THE OUTCOME OF BEING A TRUSTED TRAVEL ADVISOR Start here: add a referral statement to everything that leaves your computer, smart phone and any other device you use in your day to day selling of travel. Ask for referrals on your Home Page, on your business card, in your email signature and be brave about it. Promote the level of service that you deliver and market this to the full. At the same time market the fact that: “… you will love the way I manage your vacation so much, you’ll want to tell your friends who you trust with your travel bookings!”
You know this to be true. When your current clients trust you they will send referrals your way. They become ambassadors for your agency and in particular for you. This is the scenario you are striving for – by doing such a marvellous job of work that your clients become salespeople for you. Your very own sales team out there talking to their pals and chatting online with their social pals. Still, you must never take your eye of the road that leads to your reputation which is gained by your commitment to personal service. Page 12
“I’d like to trust you but your information is all wrong!” Let’s start with your website. What’s playing there? Is it all top quality, easy to find? Is it all correct? Is your blog current? The idea here is to check and double check that your information is spot on. There is no room for almost right – it has to be trusted. If you can market the fact that your information is ALWAYS correct, you will build more trust. Perhaps make the statement “Double Checked By Human Beings.” ‐ your clients understand that computer / online information is not always correct. Images online are photoshopped to look better. The hotel’s mapped location is not quite where it should be. Yes, been there and been fooled too. Not the best thing to have happen to your clients – the ‘double checked’ comment can work. Make sure you do actually double‐check any and all information before you send it off, upload it, hand it over or email it. Your trustworthiness depends on it. Once you are satisfied that everything is correct you can market your Trust ME! I’m a Travel Agent slogan.
Here’s an excellent way to boost your reputation as a trusted travel advisor. Deliver the right information! I know you’ve heard the horror stories about clients getting on here and not landing where they thought they were going. When I first started in the industry a client walked in to the agency and said he wanted to go to Arridge Arbba and of course being fleet of mind, I asked him to take a seat and excused myself to the back room where I checked the atlas. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Went back to the front office and asked if he had been there before. He said, yes. So I asked where in the Middle East is it? At that point he fell of his chair clutching his sides. He wanted to go to Harwich Harbour, in England! True story except for the bit about falling off his chair. Trust me I was there – his accent fooled me. Today, trustworthiness includes giving out the correct information. If you don’t, your mistake will soon be on everyone’s social chatter and shared. You need your sources and resources to be best, to be correct. Page 13
As I chat with IC’s I am finding that for many their businesses are floundering. They are not quite getting the help they thought their host agency would provide. We need to know what was promised and what was suggested and what might have been completely misunderstood. The fact remains however that the IC is left standing alone, or so it seems that way. Trying to do all things that sound like marketing. At the same time, they are attending webinars and workshops delivered by the trade’s top gurus. Rather than coming home with a defined plan – the IC is totally scattered. I can understand this situation as I have counselled many a home‐based travel agent, franchisees and outside sales reps, too. Today there is a lucrative model raising it’s head and that is to turn your travel agency into a host agency. In doing so, you must have something worthwhile to offer the travel agents and newbies who join. Offering 80% commission doesn’t cut it if that’s all you’ve got. There has to be a well documented program in place. From the ICs standpoint, unless a host agency can demonstrate marketing and social media expertise by creating Page 14
promotions that actually drive business to the ICs inbox then one must reconsider the decision to join. If you host agency does not market it’s ICs or offer a local area marketing plan then the chances are, it’s reputation and trustworthiness is limited. Even some of the larger and well established host groups have trouble proving their worth. Social media is all the rage as you know and any host agency worth it’s fees will have a social media plan. As a prospective IC you should get past the techie stuff and ask the hard “show me the money” questions. You want proof that members are using the tools, that the social plan works and someone has generated $100K in commissions. Check your host agency’s reputation in the trade, with clients, with other ICs and make your decision to stay or go. Life is short and death is long. If the arrangement is not working for you then it’s time to move on. To work with a TRUSTED HOST may mean moving to a larger group, paying higher fees and reducing the commission split. Do whatever works. You want your connection to this host agency to increase your clients trust and bookings.
Oh boy! Don’t get me started. I’m telling you, if you can up your BE game one nudge you’ll have something to take to market and here’s why. Whatever is causing it, I don’t know, but I’m receiving long overdue responses to my emails with CYA statements such as: “I’ve been so busy…” – followed by old, so very old corporate‐speak, “…when the dust settles…” and the famous, “… at the end of the day…” I mean come on! YGTBKM! We’re ALL busy so get a grip you sound like a wimp and that old, and tired corporate spiel just doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s called waffle! In terms of trust and respect, you’ve just lost me and your clients will lose you if you go with the corporate speak, too. No one has time for waffle. Supplier Waffle Whenever you receive this type of response to your enquiries from your suppliers, NEVER pass it on to your clients. Always review the response and go back for a finite answer before, in your own words, you advise your client/s. Remember anyone that is employed by the big guys is usually trying to keep up, stay ahead of the game, keep their job, get promoted. Waffle is the game they play internally and that is called corporate culture. Challenge it, drill down, get the truth. Page 15
Fulfill On Your Promises You must be careful what you promise and although this issue is all about trust, NEVER utter the “Trust me!” phrase unless your position is 100% rock solid. Once those words leave your lips, heading toward the ears of your client, the red flags go up. No one trusts the person who says “trust me” – try sayong: “I have an excellent reputation, let me explain…” When a supplier says “Trust me!” you know it’s not done and dusted. Could be waffle. Save that email. Prove Yourself From here on, you will build your reputation as a trusted travel agent simply through the words you deliver on all channels. Choose your words carefully. Always defer to the clients surname or ask to use the client’s first name or better still, ask how they wish to be addressed. What’s The Plan Going Forward (Waffle!!) Here’s your Trust Us slogan: Our clients rate us as extremely trustworthy and attentive to their needs. Your text would continue along these lines: If you are looking for a travel agent who understands confidentiality, delivers excellent customer service and will address you as a valued client – look no further. Over to you!
If truth be told…
We definitely don’t want to get into a philosophical discussion about ‘what is truth’. From the travel perspective, suffice it to say that truth represents a realistic depiction of a product or service as it exists at that moment in time. Therefore a black and white photo of Joe’s Happy Inn, taken in 1965 would not be appropriate as it has no bearing on how the Inn may look in 2013. Fortunately, in some provinces in Canada, there are regulations that govern this aspect of ‘truth” when it comes to selling travel.’
From a travel seller’s point of view, ‘truth’ translates into up‐to‐date knowledge, gathered at the source through
But there are other aspects to truth too. It’s sometimes referred to as the Perry Mason Syndrome. Perry Mason was the television lawyer, played by Raymond Burr, who practically never lost a case. When he questioned witnesses on the stand he pushed for “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. Ah…so now we have a new add‐on to the concept of truth. It has to be ‘the whole truth” and by saying “nothing but the truth” means that you can’t let your guard down and mix truth with semi‐truths or falsehoods. Based on this, are we being true to ourselves?
first‐hand observation (for example on Fam trips or personal travels) proven sources (for example a supplier with whom you have a successful partnership) clients, during your follow up interview once they return from a vacation networking with other travel professionals at conferences, trade shows and industry events webinars and seminars meant to update travel advisors on products and services
The “whole truth” relates to how this knowledge is used. There is obviously some hesitation in relaying information to a potential client that you know may lead to one of those classic sales objections (e.g. It’s the most luxurious resort in the area and you can easily walk across the road to the white sand beach. Hold on…if the resort is so luxurious, you’d think they would have built it on the beach. I object!). In this case, there could be a temptation for the travel seller to minimize that
One international travel publication that bandies about the word ‘truth’, attracted my ire many years ago. I visited the Kayam people (the long neck women) in the northern Thailand Village of Mae Hong Son. Around the time of my visit, the international publication published an article—really a photo spread of high fashion Page 16
Guest Article by Steve Gillick, CTM firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve all heard this saying. It usually prefaces a statement from the speaker that lays bare the facts, sets aside any falsehoods or exaggerations, and is used to establish some trust for the speaker by the listener. It sounds like the speaker is being frank and revealing something that was not part of any previous discussion. “If truth be told, you will have an amazing time in Provence if you enjoy small villages, great cuisine, wine and history”, or “If truth be told you will not really enjoy Brazil during Carnival particularly because you told me you are looking for a peaceful, quiet destination where you can sit at a café in the evening and watch the world go by”.
models—mixing with the very poor people in Mae Hong Son. In my opinion the pictures were insensitive and embarrassing (and truth be told, I later came to understand that many are of the opinion that the long neck women in the village are forced to live their lifestyle in order to generate tourism dollars. So I guess, in retrospect, my visit might also be construed as being insensitive). Still the magazine used their ‘truth’ slogan seemingly without remorse. Was this representing the truth about the villagers or this region of Thailand? Would the needs of travellers have been better served if the high fashion models had not been used? Was this a tactic to appeal to luxury travellers? We’ll probably never know.
can cross a small bridge and be at the beach— and this is an amazing secluded beach that was my refuge every day of my holiday”.
bit of very essential information and concentrate on the value the client sees in the other amenities at this particular luxury resort (fine dining, linens, butler service, private pools). It’s a no‐win situation. The client may get to the resort and then discover the omission about the road and this could lead to the impression that the travel seller was being at the least, ignorant and at the most, deceitful. While there are many titles for a travel seller, including advisor, planner, agent and expert, the term ‘counsellor’ is helpful as it emphasizes the ‘counselling’ part of the sales process. You are there to provide objective information and then counsel the client on the best options for their travels, based on what you have discovered about their expectations. “Counselling” implies that you have done your homework and now you can knowledgably talk about the pros and cons of each product or service in which the client has an interest. This can be done enthusiastically but also dispassionately, as far the conveying the information is concerned. It’s not your fault that the luxury resort is across the road from the beach. That’s an objective fact. It’s only your fault if you don’t bring it to the client’s attention. In order to get at the truth of this particular example, you may be able to look up clients in your database who have stayed at that resort to see how they handled this possible inconvenience, or you might contact the sales manager at the destination to check out the situation. You never know…you may be told “Oh yes—if you go out of the front lobby you have to cross a small road—really a path that no one uses— but if you exit the main building by the Spa, you
And of course the other implication of being objectively truthful is that it enhances your credibility as a trust‐worthy source of information, but also as someone who is themselves, credible. Travellers look for qualities such as transparency (truthfully tell me what you know) and consistency (my travel advisor has recommended some great vacation spots in the past so I expect this from her every time) when they seek out a travel advisor. And to go one step further, travellers are looking for authenticity—travel advisors who are genuinely people persons. For some generations of travellers, this means one‐on‐one discussions, while for others it means having a social media presence. Knowing that their travel advisor is ‘out there’ means the advisor is active and engaged in their career. This translates into likeability, a social connection and reliability (I can contact Jim in Vancouver even though I will be in Bali, Indonesia). This is all part of the trust building equation. If truth be told, today’s travellers are not that different from those in our parent’s generation. Seeking out trust relationships, based on trusted advice has always been the cornerstone of successful business and social relationships. But with more people travelling, more challenges to the traditional bricks and mortar agency environment, more catchy ads and marketing slogans from internet search engines, the concepts of trust and truth become more meaningful to travellers. Until such time as an internet booking engine shows empathy, respect and sensitivity we depend on travel professionals to show these qualities. If truth be told…most do!
Steve Gillick’s first article appeared in the Dunera Ship Newsletter in 1967. Since then he has written extensively about authored the Scam Watch column in Canadian Traveller travel. He Magazine for many years, wrote and edited CITC’s industry and consumer newsletters from 1995 to 2012, authors the "Travel Coach” column in www.talkingtravelblog.ca, contributes articles to composes travel blogs at www.TravelIndustryToday.com; www.travelmarketreport.com and www.sellingtravel.net. Many of Steve's blog‐articles have been posted to www.broowaha.com where 12,000 consumers have enjoyed his thoughts on destinations and travel trends. Steve is the creator of the live Conference game called “Are you Smarter than the Average Traveller”. Test your knowledge with the sample quiz at http://bit.ly/gillickquiz4u. ‐email@example.com Page 17
But they do like to buy and to help each generation complete their purchase you may have to learn their language and purchasing style. Then you can adapt your reputation to suit. One way to speak their language is to read travel blogs by Gen Y/M writers. The warning is – keep it subtle. Over the top, “hey I understand you!” shout outs will not help your reputation. Nothing has changed when it comes to the consumer deciding who to buy their travel from. They prefer to do business with people they like and trust – and then there’s the lowest price. It tends to win. If You Don’t Talk About You, Who Will? You cannot leave it to your clients to do ALL your selling. You must push your reputation ‘out there’ through all media formats. You can start small and build up. The first thing you need is a slogan and for our purposes on this page, that slogan should include the word trust or trusted. Look for existing trust related slogans in the Internet to get ideas. 1. wear it on your ball cap 2. on your t‐shirt and sweat shirt 3. print it on your business cards 4. insert it on your Facebook cover image 5. add it to your agency window 6. and of course on your website So many places your slogan of trust can be featured. You should also learn to say it with confidence. Here’s the question you’ll need to answer: “Out of all the options open to me, why should I trust you with my travel dollars?” How did you do?
What goes up… can also come down if you’re not careful. Building a strong reputation requires a stronger foundation.
The foundation to a rock solid reputation is going to be your travel history, your clients validations, your sales, your career and how you push market that reputation to the worldwide travelling community outside your agency doors. Of course you must be pitching the truth however the general population are very accepting and not always diligent. This means that some travel firms without a solid foundation are on shaky ground. This also means that your reputation needs exceed as opposed to meet or match your competition’s. The Generation Reputation Depending on your client base or the client segment / generation you wish to attract, your reputation and the way you market it will, might, should change. For instance you’ll hear from those that know, that Generation Y / Millennials don’t like to be sold. Page 18
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IT’S THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE AND THE FUTURE IS NOW Page 20
SKYPING WITH STEVE If you are a FAN of the Selling Travel Facebook page then you’ll know you have one heck of a deal happening about now and through til May 31st 2013. The deal is this. I would like to meet and chat with everyone who has LIKED my page and what I want to find out is what your number one challenge is. At the same time, I am going to spend an hour with you to help you develop your sales, and up your marketing game. You have two‐free one hour sessions to claim. Set a date and time for when it suits you. After May 31st the price will be $35 / hour. Skyping With Your Clients Once you learn how to use Skype in a professional way you will open up a new channel of communication. In terms of trusting you, now your clients can look you in the eye. This is both good and bad. If you lie, they will know! Skyping With Me The images to the right demonstrate clearly how I use Skype to communicate with clients. With a company laptop set up on the boardroom table I can be beamed into the meeting. I can watch the meeting via the laptop webcam and those in the meeting can see me on the laptop screen. For companies with a large flat screen TV on the wall, that’s where I would appear. The images shown here are taken from my own computer screen with the client in full screen mode and my image showing at the bottom right. I operate the professional version of Skype and that gives me access to ten video feeds plus we can share desktops which allows me to deliver a PowerPoint presentation, demonstrate a soft ware program, design and ad… Imagine that you are now Skyping with your clients. You could show them the brochure, take them to a website to view images, you could also invite their friends if they are on Skype to join you during the Skype session. Now you are talking to 10 people – some will be your clients and others will be prospects. If you are an agency owner / manager and you want a one‐on‐one discussion with me we can set that up too. As you may know Skype is available for iPhones and that means wherever you are, we can Skype. Reception not always 100% ‐ however if we lose contact, with a quick click we are back in touch. Pretty simple. It’s timely. It’s a business tool for the trusted travel agent! Page 21
The TRUSTED Travel Advisor
How do you roll as a professional travel agent? That’s my cool way of asking you about your business model… Seriously, HOW do you position yourself as a travel professional in your network, local community, circle of influence… both online and off?
By positioning you and your professional travel agent skills and abilities as a TRUSTED travel advisor, you begin to carve out a road map that emphasizes your personal abilities, your customization talents, and the extreme pride you place on attention to detail and customer service. You 7‐Star travel agents already know what I am talking about and practice this daily, but those of you struggling with client loyalty and fighting with the Internet and suppliers like West Jet who advertise that direct (see April 26 WestJet Facebook page!) is better are losing the battle and need to change. How, you ask? How do I change and become a TRUSTED Travel Advisor? Great question… (1). Start by trusting yourself. Trust is very personal and when you have it within, it is easy to give to others. You need to trust until trust is broken. Trust the prospect asking you questions, trust your client inquiring about the competition, trust that since they are talking to you about their vacation, they somewhat trust you and your abilities. Trust until trust is broken! (2). Give and take trust! Trust is a two‐way relationship, wouldn’t you say? Give it, and you should get it with the right communication. Assert your professional abilities more than ever these days and stand up for yourself! Your customization, personalization, and extreme customer service is key to your survival… so ensure that your network knows HOW you work
by Cory Andrichuk
It’s a question I ask new and established travel agent professionals more than ever, as it is more relevant than ever to have the confidence in your abilities to be seen, heard, and perceived as a TRUSTED travel professional. Such belief should be woven into your business model, and then communicated into your sales strategy. It sounds more complicated than it really is… Simply put, “Do people place VALUE in you and your professional travel skills, and abilities?” The answer lies in your repeat and loyal clients (Yes that term “loyal client” still does exist if you have earned their ongoing trust!). However, you know you have some work to do ‘in’ and ‘on’ your network, when people candidly say to you, that you are no different than a website, or that booking direct with a supplier is much easier than dealing with a travel agent. YUCK! I hate it when people say that!!! Your role as a professional travel agent has really not changed over the years. The difference these days, and that ALL members of the travel community need to embrace, is positioning and educating the public on the VALUE of a professional travel agent. There is no doubt that the travel professional is changing. The Internet, automation, and the consumer revolution provides the public with more choice than ever to book their travel needs online, direct, and through a variety of other models. But it’s your choice to allow this to continue to occur in your network, community, circle of influence… both online and off!
I obviously recommend for some to take personal accountability and look into working with a business coach, or maybe a 7‐Star Travel Agent mentor to learn their ways, and or other ways to grow your trust. So… In summary, remember that even in this day and age of automation, continuous change, and social‐everything, relationships still matter and is the foundation of our service business. Without trust, there is no relationship, and without a relationship you will never have a loyal client. Good selling! Coach Cory.
and do things differently and then trust that most people value such service, attention to detail, and customer care! Communicate this verbally every chance you can, on Facebook, in your blog, on Twitter, throughout your website, and then get video’s of your existing loyal clients telling others HOW you do it differently as well. (3). Built it over time. Trust grows and takes time to build. It’s full of both patience and perseverance! It’s highly emotional, and logical. Invest in your trust by reading and learning what experts have to say about this topic, like this book I use to coach my clients with “The Trusted Advisor”, Maister, Green, & Galford.
Are you ready to kick your travel business into overdrive? What I am about to reveal is not for the “weekend warriors!” These tactics are only effective if you’re seriously interested in growing your business to unforeseen levels of success. All of us are in this business for the money! Sure, all of the traveling is cool, and making our clients happy is a well deserved bonus, but at the end of the day, it’s all about making sure your bank account bulges like a soda can in the freezer. I would be lying if I said that this article was not being used as a way for me to leverage Steve’s popularity, and redirect some eyeballs toward my Facebook page*, but I want you to recognize my attempt at forming a strategic alliance. A tactic in which all of you can implement today, and double, triple, or maybe even quadruple your travel clients in less than a year’s time! *https://Facebook.com/BentBusinessMarketing Your customers are coming to you because they want to get away. They want escape the confines of a cramped cubicle, leave behind the smog that hovers over a big city, and just enjoy some quality time spent with a lover. Either way, they want out! But before they board that plane to paradise, they have some problems they need to solve. What I’m going to teach you will not only increase your customer satisfaction, but will help build a cult‐like following of repeat travelers. The 5 tactics that follow will open your eyes to a wealth of like minded businesses in which you can team up with to draw more eyes to your agency. Let’s refer to them as “Strategic Alliances.” These alliances will be formed easily, rapidly and without conflict. Our goal is to Page 24
ensure that both businesses benefit from this new found relationship, and not one receives more than the other.
On your path to massive alliance building, you are going to hear this phrase… “What’s in it for me?”
Be prepared to answer swiftly! Nothing will kill the deal faster than a selfish response to a seemingly selfish question. Ok, here we go! 5 STRATEGIC ALLIANCES THAT WILL SHIFT YOUR TRAVEL BUSINESS INTO OVERDRIVE 1) FITNESS CENTERS What is the single most radical thought a man or woman has prior to departing on their tropical vacation? Looking great in a bathing suit! Married or single, they want to look their absolute best. So why not give them a head start, and hook them up with a FREE week membership to the areas hottest fitness center. Most gyms offer a discounted week anyway, so use that to leverage your offer. Then contact someone from the gym, and negotiate a full membership discount for your clients. You are sending them someone who is hell bent on getting skinny, so it should be insanely easy for the gym to secure themselves a new member. Exchange some sweet advertising or promotional items, and you’re tapping into a market of beach‐bums that just need you to show them where they can flex!
2) PET BOARDING FACILITY My biggest pain when I travel is finding someone I trust to board my yellow lab Danni. I love that mutt like a daughter, so I want to make sure that she is treated like royalty. Do some research and find the best boarding
Article by Andy Sokolovuch
5 Strategic Alliances That Will Shift Your Travel Business into Overdrive
kennel in the area. Go talk to them and figure out how you can best benefit from each other’s services. Once you hash out a deal, I want you to get a picture of your pet framed, and place that bad boy on your office desk, right up front where your potential clients can see it. If you don’t have a pet, buy a frame and slap a picture of any dog you find on Google images! You want to use it as a conversational piece. While you’re typing away on the computer looking up rates, your client will comment on the picture. Once they start talking about their pets, I want you to present them with a highly attractive coupon for the area’s best boarding kennel!
How do I know that cleaning jewelry is a common practice before taking a vacation? My wife worked in a jewelry store, and when she found out that I was authoring this article, she was quick to reveal the draw dropping amount of women who came in for cleanings before they departed. An untapped alliance that I never thought of forming! Now all you have to do is be on the lookout for massive rocks on your client’s hands, and then slide over a coupon for a FREE ring cleaning!
5) Dry Cleaning Service Cruises and destination weddings require you to pack some type of formal attire. Whether it is a suit, tuxedo, cocktail dress or full blown gown, all of these garment selections need to be dry‐ cleaned. Find the dry cleaning service around your area that provides top notch service with a fast turn‐around. Once you find your new wrinkle wrangler, present a discount coupon or freebie to your clients. Again, we are aiming to satisfy their every need. Go above and beyond the service of simply planning a vacation, and leave nothing for the conscience to dwell on.
Blow their mind with your ability to provide solutions for their every problem! 3) Tanning Salon Nobody wants to expose their pasty body to the light of day! Deep, dark and tropical, that’s the image we all have of an exotic island hopper. A tanned body all oiled up and glistening in the heat of the sun. In order to prepare for our upcoming dose of UV rays, we need to build our base. To build our base, and avoid burning, we go tanning. Just like in the two examples above, research a salon that suits your client’s needs and form the alliance. Create a little pamphlet that describes the painful results of bad sunburn, and how to treat it. Now hand that out to all of your clients who are headed to sunny paradise, and prompt them to use caution and only expose their sun deprived skin a few hours each day. Attached to that pamphlet, have a coupon for a discounted tanning package at your chosen salon. Ensure that the salon is displaying some reciprocated benefits to doing business with you, and everyone wins. No sane person is going to stay indoors when on vacation! If a nice base tan allows them to see more of the island, they’ll quickly take you up on your offer.
I could come up with a dozen of these examples, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to wrap this article up. I want you to always be on the lookout for new ways to promote your services. Not every alliance you form will be a homerun, but you never know when you will come across that single connection which will yield massive results.
Build your business like a spider web and catch more flies. But instead of flies, we’re talking clients!
Andy Sokolovich is the proclaimed “Chief Genius” at Bent Business Marketing, a US based small business marketing firm that specializes in innovative ways to build a massive amount of brand awareness. Andy is always looking for stand‐out ways in which he can help business owners reach success! He believes that there are too many failed attempts at entrepreneurial greatness. In most cases, “all it took to turn a business from zero to hero was a little out‐of‐the‐box thinking.” ~Andy Bent Business Marketing’s tagline says it all! Your business is bent not broken…let us help straighten things out!
4) Jewelry Store Here’s a popular scenario, Bill and Jane are traveling to a destination wedding in the Caribbean. Jane’s sister Alice is the bride to be. Jane and Alice have always been in competition, and now they will inevitably have wedding rings to compare. In an attempt to give her ring that extra sparkle, Jane takes it in for a cleaning before the trip.
Andy can be reached at 815.441.2219, or email at andy@BentBusinessMarketing.com Visit www.BentBusinessMarketing.com or www.Facebook.com/BentBusinessMarketing Page 25
ROLL UP! ROLL UP! Great travelogue at the local libraryâ€Ś Page 26
The other day I made a comment on a blog posting that offered a very detailed infographic showing how deep the travel trade had gone in using and applying social media. The numbers reflected the airline with the most Fans, Followers etc. Same for hotels. My comment was along the lines of – “…great info, huge numbers, anyone making any money?” Answer: don’t know! The Social Set Up Here’s the thing: so far and many of you reading this still believe it – “we’ve” been led to believe that social anything is all about engaging and chatting and socializing and yeahhhh… that’s about it. Just hanging out with our clients and chatting. That was then which in techno time is ancient. The now time says – move in for the sale. Use Facebook for instance to set up and to mention an event. That event would appeal to those FB’ers that live close to you. You’ll remember that OLD statement about 80% of your business coming from within a 5‐ mile radius of your agency, yes? Well it is those people within that radius who will attend your event. Let’s Facebook about your up coming consumer night, consumer afternoon tea, how about at the local church if it’s a religious tour, at the art gallery for tours of Europe, at the yacht club for cruising. You know what to do. You can also Tweet about your event. Don’t forget to #cruisenight or whatever works for you. Get your Followers to advise their pals the where and when. So that’s your mission from now on: Using New to Sell Old – think of all the live and interactive selling situations you can generate using social media. The Social Set Up is your new blended approach.
The conversation went to and fro with the blogger as we shared a couple of thoughts about how to find the facts on and about which companies (suppliers/travel agents), actually generate commissions from their social media activities. More than a few people have asked the question, “What’s to LIKE when there is no moola coming in?” Social media gurus have also and very recently offered advice on how you’ll know when your social media activities need to be revamped and that it’s probably not a good idea to be on every possible network. Better to know where your travel clients do their travel socializing and focus on that network. In my comment back to the blogger I mentioned that in my workshops about social media I do not get hung up on too much socializing other than, how to use social media to generate a dollar. One of the techniques I talk about is to use new technology to set up a traditional sales activities. The blogger came back with an Aha! “You mean ‘using new to sell old’.” To that statement which is right on the money, pun intended, you can indeed use your social media outlets to set up all things old, or as we now say, traditional or offline.
You could be the local Trusted Travel TweetUP Travel Agent! If you had one client turn up per tweeted character you’d have 140 people at your event! Not bad for a low cost way to fill the room. Imagine: you Tweet, they Tweet… everybody Tweet and reTweet! Sounds like you might need to rent a hall versus TweetingUp at your agency. Here’s some sweet TweetUP tips: parking is free, wi‐fi is available and free, too. The focus is on the travel event, not necessarily the communication channel – so you can also let your email preferred clients know about the event. Review who is speaking and what you are promoting. Have special deals ready and always the dream trips to showcase. You never know who has the money to spend so don’t restrict your event to the cheap seats. There are websites such as these two: http://www.amiando.com/ http://www.eventbrite.com/ to help you with your larger events. Also, you can visit www.meetup.com to see what they can offer you locally. When I visited the site and explored what groups are meeting, low and behold there is a World Travellers Group, just down the road from me in Victoria. They have 491 members. So if your agency was located in this city, and you arranged a Travel TweetUP, then you would most certainly invite this existing group to attend.
Twitter may be a social service used only by your younger clients, or not. Don’t make any judgments about who and what as they may not be true for your client base. Even Grannies are Tweeting, so go with the flow here. If you do not have a Twitter account – then that’s easily resolved… start one! https://twitter.com/ Using your Twitter network of clients – you can expect that if the event / offer is worthy, your Tweet will go Twiral as it is passed on down the social line. Take a look at your agency right about now and imagine 100 people milling about in that space. How’s that working for you? Will that fit? Can you move? Fire hazard? If the negatives are popping up, then you’ll need a larger place to meet. Another governing requirement is wi‐fi. If you are attracting a younger audience then access to wi‐fi is a must have. They won’t leave home without it. Not only that, if they are having a great time and your event has value – they will let their pals know. If you decide to host the event at another and larger site, better visit it first to make sure Page 28
Collecting attendee information: here you can use technology too – your attendees can scan a business card if you have a card scanner onsite. You could use an iPhone app for the same activity and or you could bump phones. If you use an event site then you’ll print off the report with all the information you need. Be sure to advise when you Tweet out the information whether or not food is available at your event. Clean accessible washrooms are a must. This is your TweetUP so do not give it over entirely to your supplier BDM. Let the BDM deliver the special deal message if you wish, but the limelight is yours.
If your travel agency is too small to host everyone that might turn up choose your event location carefully and choose one that will add to the flavour of the event. You can use Art Galleries to promote The Art of Travel, you can use libraries to highlight Travelling Back in Time and Literary Tours. For the All Inclusive customer or cruise customer you can decorate the hall or facility to represent sun, sand and of course that very attractive ocean. Whatever your event is meant to be, make sure you let everyone know the rules / dress code. You do not want some guy in a speedo made out of floss to turn up when the event is black tie! Like all events in the travel trade, plan ahead. No last minute issues thank you very much.
Name tags are required and here you can have people write their own and use their Twitter handle. Keep it all in the realm of a TweetUP. The word is that TweetUPs are fun, productive, and great for generating a lot of contacts and leads.
It’s in production… and will deliver many more ideas like the one you’ve just read. Stay tuned!
On April 22nd it was Earth Day once again and around the world there were many events to celebrate the day and do something for Mother Earth. As the current custodians of the planet we don’t seem to be living up to the mark. We’re still polluting, still at war and going in the opposite direction to world peace. In and around that mess, you can still help your clients fulfill their personal green journeys. Let’s explore selling a little more green. You must still earn a living so you’ll be switching from green to mean and back again. Eco Tour Partners If you do like to sell eco tours and adventure tours then look around your area for an outfitter and work with them to arrange a co‐op promotion. In essence you want to reach their mailing list and they would like to reach yours. So it’s a joint win‐ win promotion. Set up a brochure rack in their store or even a desk and be there to answer questions and take bookings. Offer to display outdoor gear in your window / on your website and add a mention of your new partner in your emails and social media. A company selling hiking shoes can work too – as long as those shoes are not made by slave labour. The recent tragedy in Bangladesh will have backlash for sometime to come. Start to source your green tours now and sell them throughout the year, then April 22nd 2014 you’ll have some traction to promote as you build up to a Grand Green Event, trade show, consumer night or whatever will work for you.
So you want to sell green. Well done. Fact is so much of what you sell is already green, despite what some carbon offset firms are telling you. The new and current batch of aircraft are as green as they can be, hotels are saving water and money on reductions in laundry, and car rentals are offering hybrid cars. So the green game is on and you are already tapped into it. Rail travel is green and many coaches / tour buses are too. All you need now is to source the greener side of what is or has become your niche. Green or Mean? When you ‘turn green’ you must be careful not to alienate your not so green clients and especially if they do not get the green concept. Many surveys have suggested that if the price is the main reason for travelling then very few tourists give a hoot about green. In other words they do not care if the coach is diesel or electric, they just want to see what they want to see at the lowest price possible. They’re into ‘mean’ travel not green travel whether they know it or not. Page 30
Social Media Alerts Like Google Alerts but for social media. Receive free daily email alerts of your brand, company, CEO, marketing campaign, or on a developing news story, a competitor. http://socialmention.com/
Mobile Business Cards use QR codes and NFC to instantly deliver the real you in a mobile microsite, quickly building credibility and trust. www.vizibility.com
With this device that adds on to your smart phone you can accept credit card payments anywhere anytime. This is a fantastic tool for home based agents on the road. https://squareup.com/ca
The newly redesigned Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) program is a bold collection of courses and online training focused on the critical skills that today’s travel professionals need to succeed. Graduates will learn how to grow their business while earning recognized industry credentials. The CTIE certification is parallel to the Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) certification, thus, representing the pinnacle of travel industry professionalism for seasoned travel professionals who are interested in advancing their career.
NEW: It is no longer a prerequisite to earn the CTA designation or test out of CTA prior to enrolling in CTIE. NEW: While studying for your CTIE, you will enjoy Premium Membership benefits such as white papers, expert webinars, podcasts, blog posts and much more. NEW: All courses are completed online in The Travel Institute’s Communiversity. NEW: Interest free 12 month payment plan is now available. The CTIE program is perfect for travel professionals in non‐consumer sales roles such as: Suppliers Host agency executives Consortia leaders Marketers
Internet travel executives Back of office accountants IT support staff
The new CTIE curriculum covers these five core competencies: Communication Leadership Management Sales and Marketing Customer Service To earn the CTIE, travel professionals must: Possess at least 5 years of full‐time industry, management, or business experience Complete a 2000‐3000 word White Paper Commit to annual certification maintenance to retain certification After certification, commit to annual Travel Institute membership
That’s right. I’m giving two‐thumbs up for The Travel Institute’s CTIE program and recommend you check it out. At the same time look for my management webinars & workbooks that will indirectly support what you learn by studying the CTIE content. Click on The Travel Institute’s logo below for more information. Read TAM here. Page 32
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Make sure you subscribe and read not only the publication but also each website as many websites offer more than just news & views – there are also Guides and Supplements that you can use for in‐house training and development.
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