As Jay Baer says in his latest book, Talk Triggers…
Yet very few travel advisors employ a Word of Mouth marketing strategy to their business. We worry about how much money to hand over to Facebook for ad-spend and we hyper-focus over our colour palette on our Instagram feed, yet we give very little thought to how to maximize the most effective tool we have.
A good rule of thumb when analyzing your business strategy is to ask yourself…
What is working, and what is not. And then do more of what’s working and stop doing what isn’t. Thanks, Captain Obvious. Yet very few of us actually take the time to analyze our results.
When I first meet my clients I’ll ask…where are you getting the majority of your current clients? And most of them will say…“word of mouth and referrals.” And that’s the end of the story.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s because of the worn adage…”if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”
But just because it ain’t broken doesn’t mean it doesn’t require some oil to make the Word of Mouth machine operate a little more smoothly.
I’ve talked about the effectiveness of testimonials in an earlier post. Word-of-mouth marketing though is a slightly different beast. Testimonials have their place in your travel business. A testimonial pretty much implies that the person giving it has actually used your services. They’ve come back from a trip and they can’t stop raving about the experience.
Whereas, word-of-mouth differs in that it can also refer to the natural buzz surrounding your business. These are the things that people tend to talk about regardless of whether they’ve actually travelled with you or not.
Word-of-mouth marketing could be you taking this blog post and sharing it with a good friend with the added message…
Not sure about you, but I take all of my purchasing advice from either Tik Tok or my group of 5 besties. If one of them tells me to tune into the new series on Amazon Prime, Yellowstone, to watch sexy cowboys…I’m in. I literally won’t waste my time watching anything unless it’s been friend-approved and recommended first.
According to Hubspot, 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends, and that brands come up within normal discussions, on average, about 90 times per week. People are talkin’
So Let’s Give ‘em Something to Talk About 🎶
It’s simply not enough to be good at what you do. There are a ton of really good, travel advisors around every corner. To say…” I deliver memorable experiences that are tailormade to your desires” is not a talking point. EVERYONE does that. You won’t make it far in your travel business if that’s all you do.
So what makes you different? What do you offer that is worthy of someone starting a conversation about? To say…Janice, down the road books our travel…is a bit boring. 🤭
But to say, Janice is our travel agent. We only ever work with her because…
Every time we return from our vacation, Janice has downloaded one of our vacation shots we posted on Instagram, framed it and had it waiting for us with a handwritten thank you note to welcome us home.
Wow…now that’s a story. Janice sounds pretty dang cool.
Jay Baer goes on to say that at the heart of every successful Word-of-Mouth marketing strategy, there are four R pillars to consider A WOM strategy has to be: Remarkable, Repeatable, Reasonable and Relevant.
Aka…worthy of taking the time to make a remark about. Remarkable. The secret of good storytelling is to share a story that nobody’s heard before. The one that delights and surprises the listener usually wins the award.
Some examples of innovative travel companies are:
Porter Airlines offers convenient, affordable, free drinks in the departures lounge regardless of the seat you purchased (or at least it did when I last flew with them)…and leather seats for supreme comfort. That had everyone talking.
Air New Zealand
Hands down, Air New Zealand was the front runner in offering the best inflight safety videos. Everyone was talking about them. Every year they tend to come out with something a little bit different. Now a lot of airlines offer something similar but NZ did it first.
Changi Airport – Singapore
And then let’s talk about Singapore Changi Airport that took, what most people consider the most arduous, mind-numbing, time-wasting, part of the travel experience – navigating airports…and turning their aircraft hub into a destination unto itself.
Have you been to Changi airport? There is a 40-metre high vortex waterfall flanked with tropical plants and twinkling lights. There is a butterfly garden in terminal three, a sunflower garden in terminal two and a cactus garden in terminal one.
There is a family entertainment centre with Xbox games, indoor slights and movie cinemas. When visitors hear…” Now boarding flight…,” they don’t want to leave.
That is what you call being “Remarkable.”
Next pillar to consider, whatever you decide your wow factor is going to be, is it has to be repeatable. You might think a unique wow factor would be to offer a welcome gift basket in the arrival hotel, but…can you ensure the repeatability of that gesture for every single client you ever book? The last thing you want is to have non-parity in the services you deliver.
Whatever you decide to offer…needs to be something you can deliver consistently.
Hilton’s Doubletree hotels offer every guest a delicious chocolate chip cookie upon check-in. It sets them apart from other hotels of the same calibre and it’s something that Doubletree can deliver to each and every guest. It’s repeatable.
You can download their famous recipe here: Doubletree Signature Cookie Recipe
Yes, you want a wow factor that gets everybody talking, but you also have to make sure it’s financially viable. As much as your luxury clients might love a Hermes passport wallet, is it fiscally responsible?
Not to mention that people aren’t stupid. At the back of their mind, they understand that whatever is on offer is factored into their price.
Finally…when choosing how you plan on delighting and surprising your client, you’ll want it to be relevant. If you specialize in offering Foodie trips, a stunning coffee-table book featuring gastronomic creations and local specialties of a region might make for a sharable Instagram post.
That same Foodie expert offering up a houseplant as a parting gift for her clients. It just doesn’t make sense. People may still talk about you but it may not be in the light you want to be highlighted.
And you might be surprised…
Whatever you decide, doesn’t necessarily need to be over the top. As long as you can activate all four of the pillars, that should be enough to get people talking. Your wow factor doesn’t even have to be a gift. It could be some additional bonus service that you offer, like hand-delivering documents – I dunno….my thinking cap is running a little dry by now but I think you get the picture.
If you can do something that creates a buzz about your travel services and has people spreading chatter about just how good you are…how extraordinarily you serviced their travel booking, that goes miles further than any Facebook advertising dollar. Sorry, Zuck…it’s just the truth.
If you know someone in the travel industry that might benefit from some strategic tips to help them grow their business, I’d love it if you introduced us.