By Brent Blake, President Acendas Travel
I attend many conferences during the year, and often, a key takeaway is businesses are in the mode of constant change. I know mine is.
Being in the corporate travel management business, our change gravitates around the technology and processes that: make corporate travel more efficient, reduce cost and enhance the traveler experience. Recently, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and attend an event directed at agents — auto, travel, insurance and real estate. Those entities have a commonality in the sales process, including strategies and tactics to fill the funnel through business development activities.
What I learned is “marketing” is also in a state of constant change, primarily through evolving technology that improves our ability to connect. The explosion of platforms to connect and the subsequent enhancements to them are enough to make your head swim. Instagram. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, digital marketing, video, text and so on. The list is almost endless. And, it will continue to grow in the future. Toss in the fact that we are an increasingly mobile society, we will see the change extend well beyond the desktop.
So here was my aha moment conclusion: I’m not a social media guru, but I have been observant enough to know that all companies, from the one-person entrepreneur to the huge corporation, can play this game. Where financial resources were once a barrier to connecting to the customer for many, now you can get going with a smartphone and a few social media accounts. As a result, we can target our messages to our customers more effectively and efficiently. There is an old saying that 50 percent of advertising is wasted, we just don’t know which 50 percent. These new technologies that feature tracking and analytics are likely to help us become better spenders of our marketing resources, with a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
But the answer does not lie solely in technology. There is still the skill necessary to craft the message and time it for optimal performance. There has been an evolution on that front as well. Out is jargon and marketing-eze. In is “authentic” voice and that of “influencers” who can speak on your behalf. Because our communications vehicles can now be more direct and targeted, so too can our messages. An authentic voice means talking directly to the audience in a way that depicts who you truly are, shares your vision and demonstrates some expertise. Using those parameters, we had to ask, “does this alter our message?” I can tell you, we have changed our messaging to be more authentic and to include our focus on creating long-lasting relationships (we have a high client retention rate) and our expertise in travel technology (numerous platforms to automate booking, tracking and communications).
While this all sounds straightforward, its execution is not always easy. A common mistake we made was thinking we should play in every sandbox. We found it is better to master a few platforms than be “just okay” in numerous areas. You should also not be overly focused on perfection. The people out there creating the vlogs (vloggers) are producing good work at a fraction of the time and cost of the traditional corporate videography.
Change is constant in the travel industry, but principles are timeless. How you deliver your message and how it is constructed is changing. What isn’t, however, is relevant content is still king. We are continually trying to improve in all areas.