“Do you have what it takes to attract your ideal customers?” That was the big question Richard D’Ambrosio posed to travel advisors attending his session at Travel MarketPlace West in Vancouver last month.
It was just before the COVID-19 outbreak dropped the hammer on the world’s travel industry. But with many travel advisors productively focusing on updating their marketing and branding efforts until the travel industry emerges from COVID-19 shutdowns, the session’s takeaways are more useful than ever.
D’Ambrosio challenged advisors to audit their brands and dig deep for personal stories with fresh authenticity. He told advisors that the benefit of effective storytelling is connecting with the clients who fit best and who are most profitable to a travel business.
Throughout his session, D’Ambrosio described the traps that many travel advisors fall into when posting content on their web sites and social media accounts.
One of the biggest mistakes advisors make is sticking to “just the facts”, he advised. “No one wants to hear about the features of a ship. They want to hear about someone’s experiences.”
Stories, he explained, get your attention as well as create emotion. “If you tell stories you are passionate about, you naturally draw the right clientele – they will be emotional too.”
Using the example of the P&G commercial that became a viral hit during the Rio Olympics, D’Ambrosio reminded advisors that the best commercials, the ones audiences talk about, connect with, and share, are the ones that appeal to viewers on an emotional level. “It wasn’t about the athletes, it was about motherhood, the moms who cheered them on and stood in the stands” he pointed out, a story so many people – especially buyers of Proctor and Gamble products – could relate to and feel emotional about.
Know, LOVE, Trust
To be successful, advisors need to harness that same storytelling power for their web sites and social media channels. “I want you to tell the stories that make people fall in love with you.”
D’Ambrosio expanded on the dating metaphor, saying a new customer takes the same steps with a travel advisor. “They are drawn to you, then you have a conversation, you talk about travel… all that long before you get to the credit card part.”
Instead of the well-known marketing phrase “Know, Like, Trust,” D’Ambrosio argued “KLT” should stand for, “Know, LOVE, Trust.”
He acknowledged some travel advisors might resist storytelling with emotion, feeling more comfortable with “just the facts”.
“There is a science,” to storytelling with emotion, D’Ambrosio told advisors, “and you can leverage that to make money. It sounds cynical, but it’s not deceitful, because you are selling the real you.”
3 Exercises for Travel Advisors
Your personal story must be front and center in an advisor’s web site and social media. And D’Ambrosio challenged advisors to take a fresh look at both.
First, he said, “Take a look at your web site and ask yourself if it just describes the suppliers and services you offer, or does it tell a story about you?”
And second, “Look at your last five facebook posts. Does the story of ME come out in those posts? If you’re just posting products or reposting supplier posts, you are NOT storytelling.”
He described the process of advisors discovering their own stories as like therapy. The answer to the question, “What’s your story?” includes, “not just the facts, but also your vision and dreams.” In addition, each advisor’s story reveals their belief system, passions, life experiences, the “tribe” of people that surrounds them, and what makes them happiest. “It’s a one-of-a-kind expression of yourself.”
And the best medium to share your story, D’Ambrosio argued, is video, “I’ve learned you’ve got to do video at some point, even if you’re reluctant. If they can see your face and feel they really know you, you are much more able to draw people in and get them to give you money.”
Another exercise D’Ambrosio recommended for advisors is to, “Pick three clients you love the most, not by their dollar value, but those you most enjoy working with.”
If you can describe what they love, what you have in common, and what makes your relationship special, that will help describe your own story, too. “It turns out they are worth the most as clients, too,” he said, and this information helps an advisor frame their own specialization.
Ultimately, D’Ambrosio said, the most important thing to attracting – and closing – the most profitable clients for your particular travel business, is tapping into the emotion and passion every advisor has for their travel business.