In this column debut, Adrian Caruso, dishes out advice to travel experts. A former travel agency and hotel owner/operator, he now coaches travel, tourism and hospitality businesses throughout the region
Adrian Caruso, founder and CEO of TA Fastrack Australia
I have a saying every travel consultant should repeat every day: “Your clients are somebody else’s prospects.” With others in the marketplace vying for the attention of your clients, it is important for you to consider exactly how accessible the public perceives your travel business to be.
Being accessible means that you are easy to remember and find, approachable, likable and trustworthy. The public’s perception of your accessibility is shaped by how often they see your brand and the brand image projected.
If elements of your branding indicate a luxury travel niche, some portion of the market will find you unapproachable. If you emphasise family travel in your branding, then you will very likely attract that demographic. There is nothing wrong with either approach, but it is vital that the brand you intend to project is indeed the brand that is reflected in your marketing efforts.
Key visual elements should also appear consistently in every marketing effort, for example, the company’s name, logo and contact details. This creates familiarity, and people will feel as though they already know who you are and what you do.
Likewise, the more “present” you are in your community, the more networking you undertake and the more events you sponsor or volunteer for, the better known your brand.
Engage your clients on an emotional level and remind them that you are there. How often do you reach out and touch each and every client in a personal way? How about a phone call, a handwritten letter or a lunch? Not to sell anything, but just to say “hello”. Want clients to think of you as accessible? Begin by first approaching them.
Your marketing should also be personality-driven. People do business with people. If your company has a flat, dull persona, clients are likely to see you as unapproachable.
All this means a personal investment in time and energy because as a travel consultant, you are your own brand.