I don’t know exactly how many travel agents there are in the US, but I still feel comfortable making this wager: More than 50% of travel agents don’t understand their value and can’t communicate it to prospective clients. Sad, but true.
Knowing your value – and what type of traveler will benefit from that value – is critical to succeeding as an independent travel agent. Yet so many agents struggle with this. Some understand their value but struggle to communicate it when asked. Others aren’t really sure what value they bring to the table and become defensive when asked, “Why should I book with you instead of online?”. You should see that for what it is: a great opportunity to educate the client – and the public!
Being able to articulate the value you bring to the table gives you a significant edge over other people in the travel industry. It also makes your life a lot easier when it comes to marketing because you know who to market to and what to tell them. Your goal in marketing isn’t to convince every single traveler to work with you, it is to convince your ideal client to work with you.
One of the best things you can learn early on is to be selective about who you work with. That means not every single traveler is a prospective traveler. And that’s OK!
Let the DIY travelers DIY their vacation. If it makes them happy, good for them.
Let the bargain hunters spend hours searching for the cheapest rate. You don’t have to do it for them.
You should be focused on where you deliver value. What type of client do you love working with? What destinations or types of travel are your areas of expertise? That’s where you offer value. And that’s what you should be marketing.
Unfortunately, so many agents let fear dictate the type of business they take. They think they HAVE to take any business that comes along, and the only time to turn away business is when you are too busy to handle it. Not true!
Sure, you can take any business you want. But the reality is you only have so many hours in a day and so much energy. Every one of those bookings you take outside your specialty reduces the amount of time you have to work on your core business. It drains your precious energy, and it takes your time. Neither energy nor time are unlimited for anyone. Be protective of them!
The agents that are most successful are those who are clear about three things: 1) their own value, 2) who their ideal client is, and 3) the benefits they offer those clients. They use that clarity to market exclusively to that group. They don’t fearfully take whatever comes along. They are proud of what they do and the difference they make in the lives of their clients. That’s where you achieve great success – and make real money.