January 24, 2019 Blog

Over the course of a month you probably visit dozens of websites looking at restaurant menus, shopping for gifts, clothes, shoes, or a plethora of other items. I do that too, but unlike the average person I also visit lots of websites for travel advisors. And there are some amazing websites out there. And then there are some not-so-amazing websites.

And I can boil the reason these websites are less than amazing to two things.

They don’t tell me anything about YOU. Unless you are going to compete on price, YOU are the most important asset you have in your business. Why should someone work with you? What are you passionate about? Where have YOU traveled? What can you do for a traveler?

I am amazed at how many travel websites you can visit and never even find the name of the agent. No name! (And some don’t have a phone number or even an email address!) I’m not talking about big agencies here – but websites for agents who feel like the way to succeed is to model themselves after a big corporate entity like Expedia or Travelocity and be everything to everyone. And at the same time keep everything highly impersonal and very “corporate” because somewhere along the line they heard that was how to be professional.

And then there are my least-favorite types of websites: cookie-cutter or template websites. If your website is exactly like the one used by every other agent in your agency, then it isn’t doing you any favors. That’s why we don’t provide our agents with cookie cutter websites. Someone like Mary Emanuel of Premier Group Travel needs a different website than Amy Pearson-Jensen of Smitten Honeymoons.

And if you go look at those two websites, you will see they do a great job of telling the story of who they are, what they do, and how they assist their clients. Their websites paint a clear picture of who they are and after you spent some time exploring the websites you feel as if you know them.

And the second big thing much travel industry marketing (not just websites) is missing?

Personality. Connection. Heart. So much of it is content provided by vendors that make you look like an extension of their marketing department (and they thank you for that). Or it is generic stock photos and content provided by a third party that has none of your personality in it. This is the problem with outsourcing your marketing. They can’t infuse your personality because they don’t know you. It is absolutely fine to supplement your marketing with some of these amazing articles and content. The problem is when it becomes the entirety of your marketing.

Look, there are lots of paths to success in any industry. There are always going to be businesses going the high volume-low profit route (think Dollar Tree and Walmart). And there is the opposite end of that spectrum with high service-high profit. And there are lots of models in between.

I see so many agents who say they are all about service and customization for their clients and then they have a cookie-cutter website and generic marketing. That confuses your buyer. And a confused buyer doesn’t buy.

If you truly want to focus on service and selling your expertise – and command healthy professional fees for that expertise – then your marketing from your website to your social media accounts and everything else you put out in the marketplace needs to have your personality. It needs to feel authentic and tell a story. That’s when you have real success.

By Sandy Saburn