Travel insights from Jenn Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing for Travel Planners International

Assumptions That Will Quickly Hurt (or Even Kill) Your Business

It is a truth universally acknowledged that assumptions are rarely good. This is especially true in business. Yet, if we’re trying so hard to start, maintain or scale our respective businesses, why do we fall into making decisions based on assumptions? Because we’re human and it’s easy to do. Transparency Time; I’ve made assumptions that completely sidetracked my consulting practice back in the day. Even now as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TPI, I’m keenly aware of how bringing MY assumptions, the story I tell myself, into decision making can hurt our businesses prospects. 

There are a lot of assumptions that can hurt your growing business. I won’t (and can’t) name them all. But, I’ve narrowed it down to the four assumptions that can truly derail your travel agency. If you’re guilty of any of the below, don’t panic. I offer actionable advice throughout the way. Let’s get started!

Assumption 1: Doing it all is better than focusing on a niche.

Juggling everything you “should be doing” or “should know” can leave you exhausted, disorganized, and ineffective. There’s no way you can actually know everything related to travel. Jack of all trades isn’t always the best answer. However, focusing on a niche allows you to establish yourself as a credible resource for your prospective clients. Not only will your expertise grant your clients with personalized touches while planning their next vacation, it makes you much more desirable. People want an expert’s opinion and help! Once you fully commit to a destination or travel type, you will attract the right clients. Leave the juggling to circus clowns.

My advice: Sharpen your focus, master your niche, and success will follow. (Don’t stress it - your phone will still ring with other inquires.)

Assumption 2: When a client says “no”, it’s a negative reflection of you.

Clients are going to say “no” to us. It’s an unsavory truth of our business. Sometimes, it stings a little harder and you may feel you didn’t do your job right. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. I’ve met hundreds of small business owners that do this, in every industry.

Don’t diminish your self-worth as a travel advisor when clients reject your offer or suggestions. You’re still a Rockstar! Harboring any self-doubt will only make things worse and negatively impact your business. (When was the last time you purchased something from an insecure salesperson?)

My advice: Disconnect your personal value from the answer to the question “are you ready to move forward?” Project confidence, even after hearing a million “no’s,” You’ll eventually get your “yes.”

Assumption 3: Assuming you both speak the same “language”.

We like or buy what we understand. But more importantly, we like and buy from who understands us. If your client’s motivation is tied to the bottom line and you’re focusing on how beautiful the resort is, you’re not “connecting” with them. This is why getting to know your client’s TRUE motivation is crucial. Identify how your client operates and discover what matters to them. Then, you can truly cater to their needs by communicating in a way that’s best for them. Take it from me: when you understand what truly motivates them, you’ll close the deal every time.

If you’re unsure how to decipher how each and every one of your clients thinks or processes information, look into B.O.L.T. It’s a personality theory that divides everyone into four different animals - Bulls, Owls, Lambs or Tigers. Each animal has a distinctive communication style and a preferred way of processing information.

My advice: Get to know each personality type and individuals motivation well and apply what you’ve learned into your conversations. In no time, you’ll notice a solid improvement as well as a decrease in rejections.

Assumption 4: People know what you do and where to find you

Travel advisors come in all shapes and sizes. So, why are you assuming your clients know exactly what you do? Be clear (and upfront) about what you do and how you get paid! How you are compensated is one of the biggest mysteries out there, and it shouldn’t be. Every other advise driven profession is upfront with their payment structure, so why aren’t we? Outline all the ways you can help, guide, and advise your clients on their next vacation

Generally speaking, are you making it obvious that you’re in the travel industry? Can prospects easily seek you out? For starters, assuming people know who you are and that they will come to you is the quickest way to end your business. Most consumers still forget that travel advisors are a valuable resource that doesn’t cost extra. As travel agency owner, it’s your responsibility to carve a place for yourself in this saturated market. Don’t wait for them to find you - be proactive and seek out clients.

My advice: Follow these three easy tips when marketing yourself:

  • Establish an easy-to-find web and social presence and fill it with content and information that makes it easy for them to see you example: “help families maximize their vacation time, by planning it for them”
  • Always carry business cards or branded pens so you can network everywhere you go. Have a solid answer to the question – “what do you do.” I like the simple answer of “I own a travel agency” – if you do. Simple!
  • Ask past clients to leave reviews, refer clients to you or simply talk about you.

Honestly, there’s more than the aforementioned assumptions that most small business owners are guilty of. But, in my opinion, these are the most detrimental to your business’s foundation and success. Dismiss these behaviors and adopt the right thoughts and practices that will ensure your business’s longevity.

Share your thoughts below on other business assumptions we should let go of in 2020!

About the Author

Jenn Lee, Travel Planners International’s VP of Sales and Marketing, isn’t shy about her obsession for guiding and leading today’s entrepreneurial-minded travel advisor community. According to Lee, now’s the moment to remind the world that travel advisors aren’t just booking travel, they’re true curators of the future. She believes that those that find success are going beyond boosting their bank account; they’re building a business. Meeting and strategizing with these hustling entrepreneurs-in-the-making is what keep her going. That and her Bulletproof Coffee.

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