Do you know why your clients do business with your travel agency? Do they have a clear picture in their minds of what your travel practice represents? What type of relationship do you try to develop with your clients? How are your relationships reflected in the conversations you have with clients, your advertisements, your website and your other marketing efforts?
The answers to each of these questions goes to the heart of your company’s reason for being. To the extent you can easily answer these questions you are farther down the path to authentic marketing – business conducted from a principled set of core values and client relationships built on trust.
A travel professional true to a core set of values has an easier time defining herself to the community. The travel agency’s marketing collateral, newsletters and blogs, once in alignment with those core values, more clearly communicate with clients and potential clients. The community perceives the travel agent with a strong mission statement as more “real” – more authentic. The public is increasingly adept at determining when a company is truly authentic and when it is merely veneered. An authentic company will have a compass, and its efforts will reflect the direction of its ownership.
Authentic companies set expectations and provide a framework in which those expectations will be fulfilled. Early in the relationship with its clients, the authentic travel agency will outline the mutual responsibilities of both agency and traveler, and will operate within those parameters. Because the central mission of the agency is well articulated, and because the mutual responsibilities are clear, problems tend to be more easily observed in advance and solved more quickly at their source.
But what does it take to be authentic? Don’t most companies claim to deliver “real” results and “real” value? Don’t most companies claim to be unique in their market segment. Yes, most companies make these claims – which is precisely why the public tends to be very skeptical of such promises. Our goal is to ground your travel agency in a core set of values, to communicate and maintain those values, and to systematically put them into place internally and in your marketing efforts.
Your Mission Statement The concept of a Mission Statement is important for a travel agent to understand and employ. A mission statement is a clear and succinct statement of the aspirations of a travel agent as those aspirations relate to clients. Underneath the mission statement is a set of core values that are important to the agent. The moral and ethical underpinnings of the agent, their way of relating to clients, and their expectations of performance are all encapsulated in a single statement. It’s a statement to the world of the principles for which you stand. Below, you will find tools to help you build your own. It will be the foundation for your new marketing plan.
The mission statement has a very important purpose – it provides a benchmark for every corporate action, for every marketing effort, for every decision the company makes. Your mission statement states what you believe in and establishes how you want others to know and think of you. If an act is consistent with the mission statement, then it passes the test for consideration. If an act is inconsistent with the mission statement, then it is discarded. With a mission statement, you will have a signal with which you can align all of your marketing efforts. Without a mission statement, you run the risk of serious inconsistencies, of confusing your clients, of appearing inauthentic. Your mission statement should motivate you and those with whom you work. Your mission statement should inspire and comfort your clients. Can you articulate a brief summary your company’s mission? Can you describe in a short, clear fashion what you do as a travel consultant? How your clients benefit from your services? What your unique selling point is? Can you communicate your company’s most important characteristics clearly and concisely? Can you do it without resorting to industry jargon or cliché? Spend a few moments writing your message down and improving your ability to communicate it. Read it aloud and practice until it is a creed you can easily and naturally repeat. Clarity in your mission statement is the absolute requisite to authentic marketing.
Your Mission Statement's Formula
A mission statement is typically a very concise, shore statement of what you do, and the audience for which you do it. Make a list of the actions you are going to take on the one hand, and the people who will be affected by those actions on the other. For example, the mission statement for Travel Research Online is "To enhance the lives of travel professionals."
Ideally, your mission statement will be:
•Clear – Use simple, strong language. Drop the buzzwords. Be direct. •Concise – Stay under 20 words •Useful – Make sure the statement has heart and gives direction
Essentially, you have at least three audiences for your mission statement, and each audience can take away different strengths from your formulation.
Examples of mission statements
Let's now examine the mission statements of several companies with which you may be familiar. While not all follow strictly the guidelines we set out above, I believe you will find most adhere closely to the formula.
Interestingly, the Apple mission statement above is no longer used by Apple and the current mission statement is very "product centric" rather than focusing on customers. The statement above, however, is included on many of their press releases and is closer to a classic mission statement. One has to wonder if the lack of innovation recently exhibited by the company is somehow reflected. Here is a good article on the topic.
It's time for you to consider creating your own Mission Statement. This is your opportunity to develop your company's "reason for being" and to articulate why you are a travel professional. Download the worksheet below by clicking on the image and get to work!
Come back tomorrow and we will discuss the elements of your business plan
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