Separate Yourself from the Pack: 3 Reasons Your Tourism Business Will Suffer If You Don’t
by John Rasiej, Business Coach and Messaging Specialist
“I can’t hear you!”: the pitfalls of relying on a message of ‘high quality, great customer service or the lowest price’
If your message aimed to attract new clients is all about “high quality, great customer service or offering the lowest price” you will get lost in the shuffle. Too many businesses that deal with tourism and travel tout these qualities as if they will make a difference in the mind of the potential buyer. Yet so many businesses will make almost identical claims about quality or great customer service that they all end up sounding repetitive and unremarkable. Your business has to find a way to stand out in the minds of the clients who are most likely to value precisely what you offer.
Otherwise you are spending endless time and energy trying to appeal to everyone, as if the entire tourist market has to be chased. I understand you may want to reach as many different prospects as possible but actually you will lose potential customers and money because you will be one among many, sounding like everyone else. It may seem safer to repeat a lot of the same buzzwords, cite a lot of the same advantages and claim being better at them — but to those listening it’s all the same and they can’t possibly hear you among all the competing claims.
Doesn’t “High Quality” Mean Anything in Tourism Businesses?
Of course it does. As a matter of fact, it is expected as a norm! For instance, a particular hotel may claim that it has great quality, but aren’t so many other hotels saying the same thing? Or a particular restaurant will claim great quality dining, as so many others say. If all the consumer hears is everyone claiming great quality, is it any wonder that the claims start to fall on deaf ears? Plus it should be noted that consumers already have the mental expectation of quality when they make a purchase. A person who buys a television at a lower-priced retailer isn’t expecting that television to be of unsatisfactory quality. The same thought goes for purchases in all sorts of categories including travel. It takes more than just claiming high quality (even if absolutely true) to stand out.
As an analogy, think of going to an outdoor mercato in an Italian piazza. Dozens of purveyors are offering clementines at different prices. All of them talk about how these are the absolute best clementines, some with a louder voice than others. Even if one of those sellers truly has better clementines than the others, how can that message get believed if you’re hearing the same exact thing from dozens of people? Some people will buy from the lowest-priced, some people will buy from the first stand they see, some will buy because of the attitude of the seller. But all the buyers will think they got great clementines because the seller assured them they were great quality.
Surely Travelers Respond to Great Customer Service, Right?
They do when they receive it, not simply when a travel businesses just boasts about it. Have you ever heard of a business claiming they offer poor customer service? Of course not. Every business stakes a claim to great customer service. And customers dealing with any business expect good customer service as a default. So to simply tout claims of superior customer service becomes meaningless and since everyone is saying it the consumer largely dismisses it. Flying the “customer service banner” as the thing that will convince consumers is less meaningful than many businesses realize.
What If a Business Offers the Lowest Prices?
The same kind of thing happens when businesses brag about being the best price. With so many options available for consumers to shop around, price shoppers can always search for lower. Attracting people by claiming best price creates an insidious effect of having a client base who are going to continue shopping around for even lower prices in future purchases. And there will always be competition from new entries as well as big conglomerates who have the means and reasons to lower prices. If you gain customers by only offering the lowest price, how can you be surprised if the next time they need a similar product they once again search the internet for the “new” lowest price instead of coming back to you?
This combination of messages that don’t truly stand out sounds daunting to many businesses, especially since to claim any one of them seems so common sense. If claiming top quality (even if it’s true) doesn’t stand out in a crowded marketplace, nor great customer service nor lowest price, what’s a business to do?
Laser Focus: Two Crucial Elements That are a MUST
There are two crucial elements that go into creating an impression that succeeds in making you stand out from the typical business. The first is knowing your ideal client as well as possible and targeting your message and your approach to satisfying them above all others.
Let’s take the market of Americans who travel to Italy. According to Statistic Brain Research Institute over 2,000,000 Americans visit Italy every year. Could your business handle 2 million customers easily? Almost every business would admit that number would overwhelm them. Yet most tourism-related businesses send out messages trying to capture any one of those 2 million. Sounds like a logical approach to attract as many of those clients as possible, right? But every business should be aware that there are hundreds if not thousands of other businesses also sending messages out to those Americans. If a message is received by someone who feels like they are just on a long list of 2 million being targeted as if they are all similar, that person will feel nothing special about the message.
But among those 2 million people are all sorts of smaller groups where people have special interests. There are art lovers who want to know everything there is about how the great paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance were created and preserved. Perhaps this group may number only in the thousands, but if that were a sweet spot for your business, your message would get more noticed by those people, more likely to be read and more likely to trigger a response.
Imagine that this hypothetical art lover receives 20 emails a month related to travel, 19 of which promote a general high-quality tour of Italy for a special price and 1 of which talks about a unique and private opportunity to explore Carrara and see where Michelangelo got the marble to carve the David and examine how this large stone could be transported to Firenze. The art lover would see all the general tourism emails as lots of noise, and the one about Carrara would seem meant for that art lover’s eyes in particular. That would be the kind of information that’s appreciated because it treats the customer more uniquely and personally.
Finding out what makes your ideal client tick is imperative if you want to build a relationship with her or him, and engage them to connect with you.
Customer Experience with Emotion
The second aspect that’s crucial to stand out is to build in the kind of customer experiences that stand out and tickle emotions. As important as facts may be when someone decides to make a purchase, the buying decision still is triggered by emotion. Creating that greater emotional connection will change how a business gets perceived.
An example to be considered is Lee Schwab Tires in the northwest part of the USA. Tires are a relative commodity, and most people simply go to the nearest dealer or look around for the lowest price. Yet Lee Schwab has been able to develop a loyal customer following by turning the tire-buying experience into a pleasure. The moment a car drives onto the lot, four employees come running out to greet the driver and offer a happy welcome. That evokes a wholly different response, one that the driver will long remember and will likely tell friends, post on facebook and so on.
The customer experience should be cultivated at every touch point for the business, whether it’s how the prospect is first greeted (do you want the phone answered by someone with an Italian accent or someone with an American one? Do you want Italian music playing in the background or random radio stations?) to how a repeat client is treated (is there a special feature or service you can offer as a surprise on a 2nd visit, or even the 2nd night of the first visit to your establishment). Engaging the client in particular ways that are memorable will go further for your business than relying on overused messages of high quality or customer service.
These two steps seem simple but they’re not always easy. They do take study to find out and creativity to implement. But the result will bring you more recognition by the ideal clients who will most appreciate what you offer, and those will become your biggest fans and cheerleaders.
© 2016 John Rasiej