Quick stats lesson: Did you know there are 105,085 travel agents in the U.S., according to the 2015 Census?
And that’s not even counting the number of work-from-home ICs!
With stats like that in mind, today I want to talk about what makes you one-in-a-million.
Or, at least one-in-one-hundred-thousand 😉
Because when you think about how to get more (and better) travel clients, you not only have to compete with online booking engines. You have to compete with other agents. There are a lot of you out there!
So how are you going to stand out? By defining your competitive differentiators.
A competitive differentiator is just a fancy term for what makes you different from your competition. If you can’t articulate what makes you different — what makes you special — then why would a prospect choose to work with you over someone else?
One kind of a competitive differentiator is a niche or specialty. If you specialize in honeymoons, you’ve given a bride-to-be a big reason to choose you over the generalist travel agent down the block.
The truth, though, is you need more than a specialty to differentiate yourself these days. Think about how many romance travel specialists you know!
So what else can you use as a competitive differentiator? Let’s count the ways:
Competitive Differentiators for Travel Agents:
- How you serve your clients. Is there something special about your itinerary-building process? What do you do to make your clients feel heard, feel special? Your unique, client-centered process can certainly be a competitive differentiator.
- Accessibility and responsiveness. Do you pride yourself on your excellent communication skills? Do you consider yourself “on-call” to your clients? Are you reachable via phone, skype, email, and text? These can be differentiators.
- Strategic partnerships. Can you get your clients VIP access thanks to your relationships with special contacts? Does your membership in a certain consortium come with client perks or extra amenities? BOOM. Differentiator right there.
- Turn-around time. Can you get an itinerary done in a week? Are you happy to take on last-minute vacation clients?
- Industry experience. If you’ve been in the travel industry for 20+ years, that’s pretty special (if your experience translates to expertise).
- Professional/life experience. What about your background helps you stand out? One of my clients, now a group travel specialist, got a degree in industrial engineering and worked for years for a major tech company. Her left brain means she excels at details and logistics — it’s definitely a differentiator for her!
- Trust. If you only sell destinations or cruise lines that you’ve personally experienced for yourself, for example, then you’ve got a huge differentiator on your hands that can build incredible trust in your clients.
- Price. I listed this one last because I don’t recommend differentiating yourself on price unless you want to work with low-end clients (and not many agents want that).
This list is not exhaustive.
Nor do I suggest you adopt all of the above in an attempt to stand out more. (In fact, you might not want to stand out for some of the reasons above … not too many people want to work with last-minute clients or be available via text, for a good reason!).
I just want to show you that there are lots of ways to show your ideal clients that you’re somethin’ special.
I get sad when I hear clients on our strategy calls say there’s nothing special or unique about them. Because I know it’s not true — you just have to dig deep to figure it out sometimes.
And finally — Once you identify your competitive differentiators, then it’s time to weave them into your copy. Because your differentiators aren’t going to help you stand out if you don’t show them off!
So shout ‘em from the roof tops — because you ARE one-in-a-million 😉
You’ll want to make sure your competitive differentiators show up clearly in your website copy. For more tips on how to write your own travel agent website, grab your Travel Agency Website Checklist below!