Your business could be on shaky ground.. will you make it through this?
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A few years back, we were all worried about losing our jobs and our careers because of the internet. Clients learned about Expedia and other “Online Travel Agencies” (OTA) and would no longer want to book with a travel advisor. There was so much fear in the travel industry that time, I was there, too.
We also have that fear right now in relevance to the widespread of the CoronaVirus however, it gives me great HOPE and camaraderie to see travel and tourism industries working hand in hand to ensure longevity. We all know that there will be some fallout and there will be struggling businesses; this isn’t going to be an easy few months ahead. This is the time that your business needs you the most.
This is the perfect time to strengthen your marketing strategies and to refresh your branding. In this episode, I will be talking about social proof and how this can create a big impact on your business and tips that you can do for your business in the present and also in future while facing these challenges, driving the negative into the positive light.
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Announcer: Welcome to Travel Agent Achievers! The place to learn how to grow your travel business and have fun with it. Join Roslyn and her guests as they walk you through proven steps to a fulfilling and profitable business.
Roslyn Ranse: Hey guys, welcome back to Travel Agent Achievers podcast. I am Ros, your host for this podcast.
I wanted to come to you today to talk about Social Proof and I really struggled with the title of this podcast. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love what I do but just trying to get a message to communicate at the moment has really been tough for me.
So, the things that I thought of and you guys all know this because you’ll see them on the podcast title. But the things that I’ve thought of to name this podcast have been:
Perfect timing for Social Proof - who loves your travel business
What can you do right now to keep your business afloat?
Freak out or knuckle down, what’s your choice?
Can you win in travel when everyone’s freaking out?
Your business is on shaky ground.. will you make it through this?
Did anyone say that business was easy?
Guys, welcome to Travel Agent Achievers, you have now seen the process that has been going on in my head because I know like me, you have probably had a really tough week.
So I’m going to start off with humans do business with humans.
You are a travel advisor and you're constantly on the phone or meeting with your clients in person. You are who your clients want to deal with. You are able to jump onto an issue, resolve something quickly and often and you’re able to get a result that a computer wont.
It reminds me of a quote right and and be okay with this, “Computer says no”. Right, I can't say different foreign languages and things. That's so not me.
And I have no idea where that saying comes from. My pop culture certainly isn't as good as my husband's and my friends. But I have been known to say this when I'm at absolute within a laptop. Computers, technology - they can be so confusing. But it's not why I'm here today.
A number of years ago we we’re all worried about losing our jobs, right? The relevance because of the internet. Do you remember this?
When clients learned about Expedia or one of the other big internet companies? The rumour was that clients would no longer want to book with a human and as a travel advisor our role could become obsolete.
I know there was a lot of fear in the travel industry at this time, I was here, too. And there still continues to be some of it.
Computers, we thought, would generate travel itineraries, clients would go online and they would book and it only created fear.
Fear that we would no longer have a job, we would no longer have a career and we would no longer be needed. The media really has a lot to answer for sensationalism. Stories that sell guys. I know you're here with me right now. And there was social proof in that matter, as advisors and travel advisors like you and me swore that they would be the next to go. One travel advisor or one travel consultant to another, we were also fueling the fire at that time.
Now, at the moment, I am so happy to see how the travel and tourism industries have banded together over the last couple of weeks. Cruise lines, airlines, hotel policies, suppliers and agents were all working together to ensure that we have longevity.
And I do think that there will be some fallout and I do know that there will be some struggling businesses, though now more than ever, you need to look at who you are, how positive you are, how is your cash flow favoured, your cash flow guys, and are you able to weather the storm, are you strong?
Together, I can assure you, we are strong, and we are able to support each other and at times like this I know as an industry we can come together and support one another for future growth.
We will get through this hard time.
So who loves you and who loves your business? Do your clients shout it from the rooftops? Do your clients know that you exist and do they know that you are currently going through so much? But, do they know what you’re currently going through and how and how you’re helping them? Do they know that you have their back?
Why? Or you ask, do I need to learn about or refresh my branding, do I need to look at who I am? And I ask you, you need to understand social proof and how it affects you, and does it affect you in a positive or negative light. You need to ask, why do I need marketing? Because I can assure you, right now, your business needs you more than ever.
And I’ll explain why. So let me dive in guys. .
So what is social proof? Social proof is informational social influence. Let me say that again, informational, social influence. Wikipedia describes it as social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
A great example that is in the front of everybody's minds right now, globally, and to highlight social proof. And what is it you know, albeit not necessarily the correct behavior, but it's this Australian toilet paper saga. Now seriously people - get a grip!
Now, I'm sure that you've been like me, and you've followed this saga and you've seen the trend.
So how it all started. It started with a few people buying toilet paper and sharing that you really need to stock up on essentials, because they may run out. Now, I can assure you, I did my normal shop on a Sunday. And I didn't see any hysteria.
By Monday, which was overnight and this was just over a week ago, there was an upward trend, where people were flocking to the shops as they'd heard, you know, and I say that in inverted commas, “they'd heard” that they would run out of essentials, and I honestly thought that they were nuts.
By Wednesday, the shelves were empty here in Australia. The news headlines were consistent and relentless, and we were going to run out of toilet paper production houses here in Australia with increasing production working 24 hours.
They were working around the clock to produce toilet paper for us. The toilet paper company is Who Gives a Crap, right? They announced they ran out of stock for those that had purchased.
Now, what we didn't see is that they still had stock for those that were on a subscription.But the fact was they run out of toilet paper.
By Friday, people were literally fighting over toilet paper in stores. There were queues outside grocery stores hours before they opened, and then selling out by the pallet load within 30 minutes. Seriously, people get a grip. By the weekend, the major food retailers announced that they were putting a limit on what you could buy in one shop.
Now my question to you is, when did you at any stage of that week, and this is seriously this is one week ago. When did you go and buy toilet paper if you're here in Australia, not because you needed to but because of the hysteria?
Was there a time when you started to question yourself and ask well, well, maybe I need to go and get some. It was absolutely astounding. And I'm, I am so grateful that the news cycle has moved on to something else.
However, this, my friends, is a classic form of social proof. That in some stage within that cycle, you too probably thought that you needed to get something and maybe it wasn't just an essential at that time.
Now if you did join the bandwagon, I would absolutely love to know. What have you stocked up on? Are you doing secret shops like some of my friends are? What are you afraid that you will have to go out without? Now come on? I want you to share this with me.
So send me a message, a DM. I want to know what you're stocked up on because seriously, guys this has been one of the biggest, biggest moments of social proof that I have ever seen.
And I for me personally, I honestly haven't done anything out of my normal grocery shop yet. I've only gone to the supermarket to get essentials like bread and milk and kids lunchbox items, Jackson's in kindergarten and yes, I run out of tiny titties. But I would love to know what you have gone out of your way to get.
We often make judgments based on impressions. So for our industry, things like TripAdvisor or Google reviews, if the crowd says so, it must be true. And that's what the public and sometimes even ourselves will also believe.
I know that as an experienced travel advisor, you may look at TripAdvisor, but I know you and I know that you would look at the one star reviews as well as the majority, which are often five star reviews.
You know, and you get this right?
Now as an expert that uses or visits places, before we think that we too, we get this like, because we are there, we know more than others or we want to be like others, our clients think the same way as us.
And this is sometimes why I harp on why we should share our travel experience because we are the expert. And by what we've recently seen, this is a classic, an impressionable form of social proof.
If you would have put yourself as the expert or the celebrity, and Hey guys, you are the expert. It's now just time to show it off.
So let's get started.
So this is one of the six types.
So it's User Social Proof. A User Social Proof is when your current users recommend your products and services based on their experiences with your brand.
An example of this is like a customer or a client gives you a Google review, or they send you a note which you can use this testimonial, they may sing your praises on social media and recommendations within a group that is called social proof. You want this more than anything.
The second one that I'll focus on is the wisdom of the crowd.
Now, this type of social proof is when a large group of people is seen to be endorsing your brand.
And an example of this is by having hundreds, thousands or even millions of customers or followers in your business, and on social media profiles. Now, for me, I know winning the millions over thousands, I believe in working to a niche and specific in whom I work with, I want to make sure that we're all in alignment, and that I can relate to them.
But I can certainly say that those that are in the millions, how the crowd works for them. I'm not saying you need millions, I'm not saying you need thousands or even hundreds. You just need the right people, to be your crowd and to talk about you.
The third one is the wisdom of your friends.
Now this type of social proof is when people see their friends approve your product or service.
An example of this comes into play with referrals and repeat business.
How good is it when you have a client talk about you on social media. Iit absolutely melts my heart when I see something. They're having an incredible trip, and they're so grateful for your business and pulling it all together and putting the trip you know, 100% the effort and the time that you put it into creating someone else's magical trip, and they sing your praises.
This is incredible, not only for yourself, but also their friends, then say this, and this is where their friends will reach out and ask about you.
You may not see it on social media and maybe in a private message. But they'll ask about you and they’ll ask more about you and therefore this can result in a lead for you or future business.
I want you to always make sure you thank your clients or friends for things that they do like this as it doesn't cost you anything. And it's free marketing for you to help you build your profile, your social proof, and in turn your business.
The fourth level of social proof is certification.
This type of social proof is when you're given the stamp of approval by an authority figure in the industry.
Do you use your accreditation, your specialist certifications or your knowledge and recognition on your website and social media channels?
If you look at someone else's website, or their social media profile, and it has an award winner, or as seen on or as seen in, it gives them more credibility. And clients in turn will turn their head towards those suppliers and definitely those agents as they see them as the expert.
So guys, now is the best time to get your certifications up. I want you to speak to your local publications, let them know what you do. Offer an opinion, provide value, reach out to get this form of social proof.
When I say certification, I mean become an expert in something, whether that is a cruise line certification, an area or a country certification. I want you to spend this time right now, getting those certifications up, become the expert and speak to local publications.
I can guarantee that a local newspaper or a social media site that you follow, they will want content and they want to know how you're doing and what you are doing in order to overcome this right now and you are the expert in something so spread it further and shout it on the rooftops.
Just go out there and talk about it.
Anyhow, this morning, I was having a really tough day, and a good friend said to me, Ros, remember, “Diamonds are formed under pressure.”
He was way too smart and he still is pretty darn good. But he then followed it up with “Planes take off into the wind.”
How true of these and now is a time that we need to remember these two quotes as they perfect for our businesses and what we do.
“Planes take off into the wind”
Just slap me in the face, right? What are friends for?
So in tough times, like now, branding and marketing isn't something that you should be dropping off.
The first thing in a normal budget is usually to let go of marketing spend. Why? Because it's a very easy cut. Companies will try and keep jobs, they'll try and keep customers. But to spend money on advertising and promoting a business, it's usually the first to go.
Business will cut advertising budgets, as businesses, and business in general gets tough, 90% of your customers and you're sorry, 90% of your competitors will cut their marketing spend.
So, if you aren't getting a return on investment, you should cut your marketing spend on things. But as I talked about testing, and measuring and being aware of your return on investment, now is not the time to stop marketing or stop promoting your business.
Now more than ever, is the perfect time to put marketing and your marketing plan into play. Things that you can do that won't cost you money, but will cost you some time. I think that this is really important that we do this. You want to step away from being on the phone where you're on hold for hours or you have a cancellation sometimes you just need to think differently.
So, once you sit on hold to a company trying to change a flat or booking, you can be writing content for your website. This doesn't cost you money.
You can be preparing a social media calendar and working through preparing images and free materials to give to your clients.
What about a letter that you can print or and send with your documents? What about an email to your client, telling them what things are like at the moment?
Talking about things that you can recommend to take with you on a holiday or a cruise or how to find the best Wi Fi when you travel.
There really are so many pieces of advice content and things that you know, because you're the expert that you can share with your clients.
If you may take it for granted and I say this all the time, your experience and your knowledge, you take it for granted. People and clients, they don't understand things that we do.
And I can guarantee when the bookings start coming back in these pieces of content that you share with your clients now will be the best investment that you can make. It’s the extra value that will count.
I want you to keep reality in check. Yes, you are a little busy right now. But you can explain this to a client and they're not going to hate you for it. Think about 2021. What can you do to promote travels next year?
It doesn't have to be right now but clients are going to get some of the best bargains, I can guarantee that now this time, it will have an impact on the travel and tourism industry.
Absolutely. No doubt. It's going to clear out the consultants and advisors that are willing to do the work. And it will close doors, it's going to be tough. Those that don't understand the cash flow, and those that compete on price.They may not make it.
But I know that isn't you, and you're here because you want to build the best travel business of your dreams. You're here because you know that there is a better and there is a stronger way.
Life is hard. So much can happen and no one ever said that business would be easy. The strong as they always do, will survive. The travel and tourism industry will survive. And it may look a little different. But things will continue and people will travel again. Or, they will continue to travel, I still have clients that are wanting to travel.
So the opportunities for you right now, how to prepare your social media calendar. If you need help with this, check out our website www.travelagentachievers.com for the workshop that I did on this exact topic back in December, How to Prepare your Social Media Calendar for 2020. It is now still relevant guys. And this is the perfect opportunity for you to take action and actually get stuff done.
Now is also a great time to be preparing content, blogs, emails, letters, templates, content that you can add to your website for your own travels, things that you've done. Any tips, five tools for clients to travel to a certain destination or even how you're working with your clients right now, explaining that you're the expert and you ensure that your client's travel needs are taken care of without, with very little financial impact.
You are available, you need to talk about this, that you are open for business, you need to talk about this. That you are also there to offer support and advice where possible.
Even if it's somebody that you haven't bought, I can assure you that if you reach out now and somebody comes to you and says, Can you help me? Or can you offer advice? If you give that time to them, they may very well come back and book with you. And you know what, even if they don't, I can assure you that they'll probably tell somebody that you help them.
I want you to look at your budgets and cash flow. Where are you placed for commission even in the next two to three months time, even four to five months time? Do you have enough money to cover your major expenses?
I want you to look at your budget. And when you do look at it, look at the subscriptions that you have. Do you have any expenses that are coming up that can be delayed? Are you able to pay monthly for something? Where in a few months time, you could be back on your feet.
But rather than paying an annual fee right now up front where you need to be aware of your current cash flows so if you can pay by month.
Have a look at things that don't have a cash flow, positive impact. And when I say cash flow, positive impact, I mean, look at the underlying expenses. If something is going to help you with your business or grow your business, that could very well be something that can help you have cash flow, positive impact, but it is something that you do not need or you're not using, then that's draining your finances.
I want you to take a look at your marketing expenses. But now be realistic. If you were to attend an international conference, is this still going ahead? Is it in your budget? Is that something that you must do?
Facebook ads, are you getting the return on investment that you wanted? Do you need to tweak any of the content or the text or change up an image?
I want you to test and measure what you're spending. Be prepared for the long term, not the short term game. Because if something isn't working, you really shouldn't do it.
Now, I am suggesting that you should be looking at your marketing and I know how you need to get known at times. But I want you to go out and I want you to be yourself.
The content that you create for yourself, whether it's free information, advice, tips, tools, this will help you in the long run. The next thing to look at and I know you guys are gonna hate me for this is your system.
Do you have templated emails? step by step instructions on how to do certain things in your business? Do you have that systems in place to ensure that your customers are going to be looked after at every step of the booking process?
Because sometimes and at times like this, our energy is drained. And we are so down that we just don't feel like going on anymore. But this is one of the reasons why I put together my 67 step guide. It's exactly what we do every single client from the time the inquiry comes in, and I put it into the step by step guide for you guys as well.
So check it out on the website, travelagentachievers.com. It's our 67 steps to processing a booking because these guys, is now the time not to drop the ball.
And it is a very cheap investment for you guys to think about how you can sustain your business.
No one is going to get through business with a mitigating mindset. Now is the perfect time to showcase social proof of your business. To work on your marketing systems and take a good look at your cash flow.
I want you to speak to your accountant if you don't already. And if you're not sure where your numbers look like, then make sure you've got a budget so you can see what you're doing.
My friend Alex said to me today, no one got on top of Everest by falling there. And he's absolutely right.
Guys, this is gonna be a tough one.
You will get through this. I know it. I know I will. And I believe in you.
I want you to let me know how you are going because our mental health right now, I am sure is wavering. Sure that those bottles of wine are being consumed. tears are being all- flowing on your friend's shoulders.
But I want to know what you're doing to stay afloat. What are you doing to stay positive? It's okay to have a cry. It's okay to lean on somebody's shoulder.
I want you to reach out when things are tough. But know that you will get through this. You are human, your clients are human, you are real and you belong here. Your business will make it through. If you put in the work.
Nobody said business was easy, I'm here for you. You will get through this. I want you to take a look at your marketing. I want you to think about social proof. There are those steps there that our friends and colleagues and client, they can help us through this time and they will because you are there for them.
Guys know that I'm here for you. Please don't forget to subscribe to the podcast. Let me know your thoughts.
I love hearing from you. Thank you for listening.
Next week, we're going to be a little bit more positive because we are setting some goals. You will get through this, and I'm here for you.
I'll talk to you next week.
Bye for now.
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