Travel agents may have their most simple and effective marketing tool already available: their stories.
By telling stories about the services and value they have brought to their clients in an honest and straightforward manner in their marketing materials, they promote themselves in a natural way that resonates with clients and potential clients, said Gwen Kuebler, an industry veteran who is also a frequent presenter for the Travel Institute's training programs.
"The human brain is wired to remember more effectively when people tell stories," Kuebler said. "Stories touch the heart of the audience using an emotional link."
Kuebler said agents may not consider many of the services they provide to be remarkable, but consumers might find them compelling when they are told as stories. Examples could be when the seller solved a difficult travel problem, rescued a stranded client in an overseas emergency or obtained last-minute travel documents.
"In the travel agency business we've worked on New Year's Day to get humanitarian workers overseas for tsunami relief efforts," she said. "Your stories may not be as dramatic, but every business delivers some type of extraordinary service that becomes folklore in the company."
Agents should use stories about how they've saved clients money on expensive trips and planned dream vacations with special tours that were tailored to specific interests, she said.
Collect rave reviews from clients who have booked honeymoons, destination weddings and family reunions. Solicit feedback from those clients, turn them into stories and ask if you can quote them in your marketing material, she said. Then highlight the stories on websites, in promotional materials and newsletters.
"Using real-life examples enhances believability," she said.