Branding: Standing Out in a Crowd
What makes you different from any other travel provider?
If your service seems the same as that of any other travel counselor, clients are unlikely to remain loyal to you. It’s easy to get lost in an industry filled with professionals selling similar products. The challenge is to stand out from the crowd.
Creating your brand is critical to your success. And who is better to advise you than your colleagues? What follows are excerpts from articles written by two of The Travel Institute’s certificate-program graduates.
In The Importance of Branding for Independent Travel ConsultantsWhite Paper, Becky Gillespie, CTC, ForLoveOfTravel.com, asks: “Who are you? Can you give a succinct description of the values and attributes of your business—who you are and why you exist? If you find this hard to do, chances are, your clients do, too. The idea of cultivating an image you want your business to convey to others is called branding. It defines who you are and what sets you apart from others.”
Becky also describes key ways creating a brand can benefit you as an independent travel consultant.
Five Benefits of Branding
- It builds recognition. People feel most comfortable doing business with companies familiar to them. You can build a uniform brand through your logo, tag line, marketing materials, and interactions with people. Use a consistent image in all these areas as you convey the message of who you are.
- It builds uniqueness. Branding your business is the key to letting potential customers know what makes you unique from the myriad other options available. You may offer the same cruise as another agent, but your brand and what it represents resonates with clients, causing them to choose you as their travel agent over all others.
- It set expectations for your client and creates trust. Keeping your brand promise builds your reputation and creates happy clients.
- It helps generate new business. You want to leave an indelible impression on your clients, so, whenever someone asks them about travel, you are the first person who comes to mind. And having a strong brand will allow you to target and attract new customers.
- It helps you focus your marketing efforts, so you are spending money only on campaigns that align with your brand message. It also gives you the freedom to turn down marketing opportunities if something does not align with your brand.
In A Brief Guide to Marketing Strategies and Branding for the Independent Contractor White Paper, Fredi Helton, CTA, CTC, CTIE, of Dallas Travel, advises that relationship marketing can be the most effective strategy for an IC in the travel industry. “Relationship marketing focuses on customer loyalty, retention, and long-term customer engagement, rather than on shorter-term goals, like running an airline ticket or one-time booking.”
Fredi says trust is key in relationship marketing. But how do you build those relationships?
How do you define your brand?
Fredi recommends that you begin with your niche. “Studies show that the days of being all things to all people have passed, and, while it is great to know a little about a wide variety, trends in the travel industry all indicate the most successful travel consultants have an area of expertise, a niche. Determine yours. When someone sees Mickey Mouse ears, do you want them to think of you, the Disney specialist? … Do you want to specialize in cruises? What about spa and wellness travel? It’s a big world out there. Clients have more resources than ever before, and, if they are more knowledgeable than you, there’s no reason to use your services. Define what you do and be the very best.
“As you are defining your brand, remember the WOW factor. Incorporate what will make your services different from the others. In his best-selling book, Purple Cow—Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, Seth Godin compares marketing to driving past fields of cows. At some point, no one notices the cows are there…but, if there was a purple cow, that would attract interest. ‘In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. … [N]ot standing out is the same as being invisible.’”
So, Fredi says, “Be a purple cow.”
We’ve only scratched the surface of Becky’s and Fredi’s wisdom. To read the articles in their entirety, Travel Institute members can go to the Member Lounge. Not a member? Join today and access our libraries for free.
For even more learning on branding, we strongly urge you to attend an exciting webinar—Creating and Controlling Your Brand—presented on Valentine’s Day by Nolan Burris, Future Proof Travel Solutions.
Finally, you may have guidance for your fellow travel professionals. We’d love to hear how you differentiate yourself from the competition. Fill out this survey, and your comments may appear in an upcoming Hot Tip Tuesday!