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Who Are You Marketing?

By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE[/caption]One thing is certain about the travel industry: There is no shortage of amazing destinations, resorts, ships, and experiences that you can promote to clients. You can probably picture some of these beautiful places in your mind right now. From beautiful cities teeming with activities to isolated beaches with water gently lapping at the shore, we call this “travel candy”. As a travel advisor you probably eat it up – and your clients do too.That “travel candy” is probably the first thing you think of when it is time to market your travel business. It’s understandable, what speaks more to a traveler than pictures of beautiful places?And you should absolutely incorporate this into your marketing – but it shouldn’t be the sole focus. So, what should be the focus of your marketing?YOU.Your marketing should clearly tell the story of your unique value proposition (UVP). What is it that you can offer clients that makes you unique? What do you do to make their lives easier and their trips better? They need to know what’s unique about YOU. Any travel advisor can book pretty much any travel experience in the world, and in many cases, clients can book it themselves direct.You need to tell the story of why they should work with YOU.Use the “travel candy” to get their attention, but instead of following that with deals or vendor-sponsored information, focus on what you can do for them. Perhaps that is exclusive access you can offer to your clients through partnerships or affiliations. Or it is the fact you can help them have this trip without spending hour upon hour researching and planning.The key to the most effective marketing possible is to know your ideal client and what is important to them.For some, it may be that you help them find incredibly unique experiences that none of their friends have had.For others, it might be the ease of the planning process.Some may put the greatest priority on the level of detail you plan for them, so they don’t have to worry about anything.Still, others may want to be assured they will be treated like a VIP at every turn.Wherever you deliver value is what you want to focus on as much as possible. You can do this in subtle ways – it doesn’t have to be over-the-top like a used-car salesman.So many travel agents default to promoting products and destinations and forget about themselves in their marketing – and some even forget to include themselves on their own websites!Take a look at the last five marketing pieces you sent out – whether those were social media posts, email blasts, or some other marketing piece – is the value you offer evident in those pieces? Is it easy for a prospective client to understand why they should work with you?You may discover that a few tweaks will make things better. You may find you hit it out of the park, or you may realize you’ve been relying too much on deals and promotions from travel partners.Whatever you discover, you have a lot of future marketing that you can use to tell the story in a way that serves you better.