My early recollections of the world of brands and business have to do with the companies with which a five year old first has contact. I can remember that Esso put a tiger in our tank and that my Keds tennis shoes would make me run a little faster and jump a little higher. The personality of many companies had to do with their cartoon mascots whether that was Mr. Clean or a leprechaun whose marshmallows were lucky charms.
I’m not really certain, however, that those mascots really had much to do with the personality of the company or their product. Brand identity and communications then were pretty much a one-way communication from the company to the public. The brand delivered information to the public through television or through the newspapers and we accepted pretty much what ever we were told.
Those might have been simpler times, but I think perhaps a bit naïve and not as interesting as today.
Marketing today is a two-way conversation, not a sermon. The consumer wants to know the personality behind the companies they bring into their lives.
That can be great news for the travel consultant. To the extent that you can infuse your conversations with clients with your own personality, to the extent that you can achieve a rapport by earning their interest in your corporate message and ethic, you can gain a following and the loyalty of your clients.
Consumers value authenticity and authentic marketing is all about your personality, your company ethic – those things for which you and your travel practice stand. You have a mission that you feel is important enough to represent in the form of a business. For better or worse, your travel practice over time starts to look familiar, walking, talking and looking a lot like you.
So if all of this is true, why do so many travel agents insist on hiding their personality behind the corporate logos of suppliers? I continually observe agents tweeting one “travel special” after another, filling their Facebook pages with barely disguised advertising and web pages that look like a Las Vegas of cruise line ads and “deals.”
Not only does this type of marketing overly focus on price, it hides the personality of the travel consultant behind the larger images of the supplier.
Here’s what we forget – the consumer can buy travel anywhere. YOU they can only get from YOU. You are unique. You cannot be found cheaper on the internet. You are the product, not travel.
You’ve got personality. That’s what you should be marketing.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.