The advice is well-intentioned. It’s coming at you from everywhere.
Experts — people who seem to know what they’re doing — advise you to call your clients and say, “When you are ready to travel, we’re here.”
I say: Let’s put that one to bed!
Yes, yes, we aren’t anywhere near our new normal. I get it.
There’s still uncertainty out there, countless things out of our control and predictions that are really just shots in the dark. I say, however, that we have more control than we realize. There is one opportunity, and if we nail it, we will see the incredible comeback that we all desire and have earned.
The single most important opportunity before us, the one that will impact our collective businesses, is to change the narrative, both within and outside the industry.
Who’s responsible for changing the narrative?
We certainly can’t rely on the mainstream media to be on our side. Seriously, petri dishes?
The government has an entire country to serve, not just us.
Our valued supplier partners are doing everything in their power to keep the machine moving. Whether or not you agree with how they are handling it, each is doing what’s needed to be here for the long haul.
Our travel industry media is working overtime curating articles to keep us up to date and inspired.
The incredible travel industry associations are killing it, fighting for us and driving messaging on our behalf. Huge thanks to them!
That said, all of the above, combined, don’t have the pull and power to change the narrative with consumers. They can’t explain that travel isn’t just transportation. When it’s thoughtfully planned, it can make seven days more than just a week’s vacation; it can add meaning to one’s life story. We can plan trips that collectively do more for world peace, understanding and harmony than a typical donation to a well-meaning nonprofit.
We — you — as travel advisors make the impact at ground zero. With every communication, direct or indirect, we are responsible for the narrative.
This is our tipping point, right now, and we must change the narrative.
You know how we always talk about how it doesn’t serve our clients or ourselves when we propose travel based on our own budgets and spending habits? That’s why we preach, “Don’t sell out of your own pocketbook.”
There’s a parallel to that going on right now, and we need to stop marketing based on our own fears and concerns.
I see well-meaning and loving travel advisors and agency owners tiptoeing around talk of actual travel planning. As if everyone around them will instantly combust if they dare utter the words, “Are you ready to plan or rebook your vacation?”
Marketing is an essential key in any business, and staying authentic with your messaging, understanding the relevancy of your timing and leading someone to action is the secret sauce to marketing. Leading someone to take action is what’s needed.
Our message, in whatever words fits you and your business, should simply be: “We’re here. Who’s ready to travel?”
So many of the travel advisors I’ve spoken with the past few weeks seem to be standing off to the side, waiting for the OK to jump back into selling and marketing travel.
It reminds me of those unnerving seventh grade dances our parents forced us to attend. The big circle of scared boys and girls standing against the wall, talking with one another, knowing that it’s a dance, yet no one is dancing. Anxiously waiting, hoping to catch someone’s eye and give the nod that says, “I’m interested, let’s go.” Waiting for that first brave couple to get on the dance floor.
Well, my friends, standing on the side waiting for someone else to change the narrative isn’t going to get this dance party started!
Who’s going to jump out on the dance floor with me? Let’s boogie. Let’s get our industry moving fiercely forward, starting today.
Jenn Lee is vice president of sales and marketing at Travel Planners International.
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