Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking River Cruises, said in a recent interview, “We are focused clearly on what we are and the number of things we are not.”
Wow! If you want to know why Viking is so successful, I think this statement sums it up nicely. As a sales professional, the message is clear. In order to stand out among the plethora of booking options, get clear on who you are and who you are not. Ask yourself, “What makes me special?” and “What do I want to be known for?”
These are powerful questions that I always ask of my students and audiences around the world. Usually, the response is an awkward silence. In an environment where everyone from Costco to Sea Ray Boats is selling travel, how can retail travel professionals get clear on who they are and who they are not? If a company as complex as Viking River Cruises knows who they are, why is it so hard for retail travel professionals to gain this clarity?
I like to hike, so much so that I am planning to hike a 70-mile section of the Pacific Coast Trail this summer. As anyone who has served in the infantry will tell you, the most important piece of hiking equipment is a good pair of boots. I often spend long hours and days on the trail in snow, ice, and mud, so in addition to comfort, my boots must be able to keep my feet warm and dry. Poor-fitting boots can cause considerable pain. As a result, many a hiker has lost toenails or worse.
What do hiking boots have to do with selling travel? I buy my boots from REI. I can get them cheaper from a number of vendors, both local and online, but like others serious about the sport, I seek out Pete Smith, who has been fitting boots at REI’s flagship Seattle location for over 25 years. Pete is well-known throughout the Pacific Northwest for his ability to fit hikers and climbers with the right boots for their feet and hiking conditions.
Intentional or not, Pete has become a star in the hiking world. Because of this, he attracts customers who will wait for hours to have him fit their new boots (I can personally attest to this).
So, what makes you special? What do you want to be known for? What is it that you are so good at or what to be good at that prospects will seek you out?
The key? Less is more. Drill down to the minutia. Pete doesn’t sell tents or sleeping bags, he sells boots. Twenty years ago, you could get away with specializing in cruising or all-inclusives. Not today! There are so many options, requiring such specialized knowledge, that you must go deeper to establish your expertise in specific brands or regions.
Condé Nast, Travel & Leisure, and Wendy Perrin all publish “World’s Best“ lists. The lists are not “Best Travel Agent,” they are "Worlds Best...Specialist." Those who make the lists are known for their expertise of specialized products and destinations.
I am known as “The Wealthy Travel Agent” guy. I am clear on who I am. I specialize in finding and selling to new prospects in a very specific demographic. This is what makes me special and why my coaching and training services are sought by some of the biggest brands in the industry.
What do you want to be known for? Something so specific prospects will seek out your services. You do this, and you will have no problem standing out from the tens of thousands of travel agents competing for business.
Dan Chappelle specializes in helping travel professionals and organizations achieve their full potential by thinking BIGGER, working SMARTER, and producing greater RESULTS.
He is in demand internationally as a professional sales coach, business advisor, author, and speaker, with a focus on strategic business development in the travel agency sales channel.
His training and consulting firm, The Wealthy Travel Agent, develops sales oriented business leaders. In addition to working with home based entrepreneurs, his corporate clients include AAA, Cruise Planners, Ensemble Travel Group, and Travel Leaders. His book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on Amazon.com.
For information on Dan’s educational and sales programs, visit: www.WealthyTravelAgent.com
©2017 Dan Chappelle, CCI Inc.
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