Guest post by Dan Chappelle
Professionalism, we hear about it every day. For some reason the subject comes up more & more often in discussion. The majority of travel agents I observe do exhibit a high degree of professionalism. They are the first to point out there is no place in this business for those who behave otherwise. However, some agents, particularly new ones, will sometimes let their passion get in the way of good business and common sense.
What does it mean to be or act “professionally”? Here are five things I believe epitomize what it means to be a travel professional.
1. Have a plan
Be prepared and that means having a plan. This will set you apart from the majority of travel agents. This should be a specific plan for building a business with a preferred vendor. You should include realistic sales projections, target prospects, marketing program, and financial commitments from both parties. Ideally, you should have one to share with each of your preferred vendors.
Social marketing tips by Catherine: Remember to include social marketing into your business plan. In your social marketing plan you’ll want to include information on which social platforms you’ll reach which types of clients. In addition, social is a great opportunity to cross-promote your traditional marketing and reach new audiences. Here’s the foundation of your social strategy. Launch your social marketing strategy with these tips.
2. Have skin in the game
Are you willing to put up your own money and time to execute the plan? A realistic co-op expectation is 1% of your sales volume. In order to get these funds, you must be willing to match at least the amount you are asking for and provide a plan of how the money will be used. If you aren’t willing to invest in your own idea, why would you expect this from anyone else?
Social marketing tips by Catherine. Social advertising is a mainstay of a co-op program. Having set realistic budget and expected reach is essential when approaching your BDM or other sources of marketing funding. You’ll want to provide a comprehensive plan that outlines the following; intended audience, expected reach, budget and length of commitment. If you can provide content and graphics that will be a welcome addition to your funding request. Ad secrets here. Social ad targeting tips here.
3. Invest in Education
This is my soapbox! Selling travel is our chosen profession and continuing education is essential to long term success. “Knowledge is Power”. Pick a specialty and, invest your own time and money to become the “go to” expert in the field. If your sales skills are lacking, take a course online or at your local community college. A coach who specializes in travel sales would also be good investment. Not only will you learn more, you also have someone who is holding you accountable. I coach a number of travel professionals, but I also work with a business coach of my own who specializes in helping me be more effective. I am a believer in emulating the success of others and a good coach will help to move your business forward.
Social marketing tips by Catherine. As you’re investing in your educational plan, include a course or coaching sessions to ensure your social marketing is maximizing its potential. When choosing a course or a coach, look for content that relates to travel and tourism and meets your level of expertise. As we all know, social marketing changes daily and staying on top of the game is a game changer. I also coach a number of travel professionals and work with a coach of my own.
Operate from a place of uncompromising integrity
You have a business relationship with your suppliers and your actions speak volumes. While you may not always agree, don’t take anything personally. Both parties have the same objective, so yelling at a reservation agent or threatening to “off sell” one brand to another not only makes you look bad – it isn’t going to win any friends. As large as it is, this is a very small industry and you want to make sure you have friends to help when you really need it. In my past role as a cruise line sales executive, I had very specific instructions for our reservations team. if a travel agent was rude or disrespectful, I wanted to know about it. We would all listen to the recording – yes, all conversations are recorded. Depending on the severity we would either let it go, send a quick email to the agent, reach out to the agency &/or consortia management to discuss, or in extreme cases, decline to do business with the agent in the future. Also, be on your best behavior on FAMs. More about this in a future post.
Social marketing tips by Catherine. Social marketing is a very public space, so watch out for the basics like spelling and punctuation. In the bigger picture, staying on top of comments and concerns is a huge reflection on your attention to detail and customer service.
Consider suppliers (and their reps) your partner, not an adversary.
Business Development Managers typically have large territories. If you need to schedule a meeting with your BDM, it is preferred to send an agenda with a clear purpose so he or she knows what to expect. You do this & it will almost guarantee a meeting. They have a wealth of knowledge, ask them to share. For instance, if you plan to propose an idea that you think will revolutionize culinary travel in your area such a partnering with a local chef and the BDM suggests there might be better ways to spend your collective efforts – I suggest you listen to them. Odds are they have already seen & tried it 99 times. It’s doubtful once more will produce a winner.
Social marketing tips by Catherine. From a social marketing perspective, your BDM will be a wealth of knowledge and may be able to provide inside knowledge on the target audience demographics of their products. This information can be used when you’re building your own target audience in your social advertising. Most suppliers also have an on-line portal for travel agents that’s stocked with images, graphics, text and templates you can use in your own social marketing. Double check to ensure that you’re legally able to use their images. They’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
Guest post by Dan Chappelle
About Dan Chappelle
Dan Chappelle is a professional business adviser, best-selling author, and speaker. His training and development firm helps create sales-focused business leaders and entrepreneurs in the travel and tourism industry. His book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on Amazon.com.
For information on Dan’s Travel Agency Transformation programs, visit: www.DanChappelle.com
©2018 Dan Chappelle, CCI Inc.
Social Marketing Strategies for Travel and Tourism
About Catherine Heeg
Catherine Heeg is a recognized social media trail blazer passionate about social media and marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry. She takes the mystery out of marketing!
She creates and delivers meaningful, dynamic workshops that meet your unique needs in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry.
Catherine and her team help travel, tourism and hospitality pros design and implement social media marketing strategies and tactics that drive traffic to their social and web sites. Learn more…
Professionals who are serious about taking consistent, winning actions every day to build their business and achieve measurable results love working with Catherine.