The best way to succeed selling luxury travelers is to focus on niches within the market. For luxury travel agents, niche marketing is simply easier and more cost-efficient. It is also more profitable.
That was the message that sales trainer and motivational speaker Bill Todd drove home to luxury travel sellers at last week’s 2012 Affluent Traveler Symposium.
Todd’s presentation included input and case studies from agents in the Affluent Traveler Collection who have been successful in niche marketing.
Travel Market Report caught up with Todd before the conference and asked him to elaborate.
What are affluent travelers looking for these days?
Todd: Affluent travelers are shopping for experiences, and we tell agents how to sell those experiences. The idea is that the affluent consumer is different. They make different kinds of buying decisions. They buy on reputation.
Why is it smart for luxury sellers to focus on niche marketing?
Todd: There’s a lot of money to be made when you get involved in niche marketing. It’s simply easier and more cost-efficient to do that. The old adage is ‘Get rich in your niche.’
What’s wrong with a general appeal to affluent travelers?
Todd: When you’re standing there as a generalist, competing on the same playing field as everyone else, you blend in and get lost in the crowd. We are trying to motivate agents to look at the niches within that market.
What might some of those niches be?
Todd: It usually involves a passion or an interest – sometimes involving both the agent and the clients.
I know one agent who had a passion for languages and was studying French. There are a ton of sites that helped her study French, but traveling to the country where the language is spoken is always best. She started selling package tours to France and other French-speaking countries and has done very well.
You talk about using LinkedIn in niche marketing.
Todd: There is an incredible amount of information on LinkedIn about peoples’ interests. You can go into LinkedIn and see who within a 50-mile radius of your home speaks a second language. A former head of the CIA recently said there is more information on LinkedIn than he had access to at the agency.
There are 50,000 groups on LinkedIn representing every possible niche. You can find if somebody is interested in food or wine or photography.
If you can present the appropriate experience to the potential traveler, the price becomes almost secondary. If you’re into photography and just bought an expensive camera, you might be eager to do a camera safari.
What’s the biggest mistake agents can make in selling to the affluent market?
Todd: Mass marketing. During seminars, I’ll have 25 people stand in front of the room and yell out their mother’s maiden name. Then I ask if anybody remembers any of those names. Of course they don’t. Then I have one person yell it out and of course everybody remembers it.
The first example is like when you’re acting like every other travel agent – there’s a lot of noise and you get lost in it. When you focus on a niche market, you are singing a solo rather than singing in a choir.