Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
Hello Dolly, Hello Travel Agents!
As I am passionate about helping travel advisors become successful, I hope these articles and my different approach of writing will help you reach your goals! You may ask “different, hmmm? Just how different, pray tell?” Well, I am not only passionate about travel but I also love the use of analogies to learn important points so my columns will be full of them, in particular, Broadway musicals. I love musical theatre and each show holds applicable lessons to travel professionals that I will expound upon in these columns. If you love Broadway musicals then I will provide a unique view of your favorites and if you are not a fan then I hope you will still find great lessons for your travel business!
Hello Dolly, Hello Travel Agents! is one of the most famous and successful musicals of all time (as well as a wonderful movie with Babs). While watching a production of this classic recently, I came to the conclusion that Dolly’s character is the personification of the ultimate travel advisor! The similarity is so strong and the lessons so clear that I will actually spin this analogy across two columns!
When we are introduced to Dolly Levi we realize she is just starting to emerge from a period of mourning (she is a widow). That was my first clue that Dolly is the pure representation of a travel advisor! In some ways we have been emerging from our own period of mourning as we lost more than a year of ‘normal’ business. Many folks inside and outside our industry predicted we would never emerge from our depressed state to become relevant again. But with the same indomitable spirit of Dolly, travel advisors have decided to come back and prove their worth. However, unfortunately not all advisors are like Dolly. The key to Dolly’s resurgence is the fact that she simply decided the world needed her and so you must do the same thing and be convinced that your service is needed and wanted! She learned from the past and we need to do the same but then she made her decision to aggressively go to market. In other words, to be successful you need to embrace the changes and boldly proclaim the value you provide.
The value Dolly brought to the market is also uncanny in its similarity to what travel advisors do – everything! While she seems to have a business card to fulfill every need, her basic job seems to be to create happiness! Sound familiar? That is exactly what travel advisors should do! With confidence, preparation and passion, Dolly sings what might be an anthem for travel advisors:
I have always been a woman who arranges things
For the pleasure and the profit it derives….
So I put my hand in here
I put my hand in there!
Her focus might be to help folks find love but then again so is yours! Love of the person they are traveling with, love of the style in which they travel, love of the destination they travel to and most importantly, love of the person ‘who put their hand in there’! You may not have multiple business cards but you certainly wear many hats, from psychologist to financial analyst to cheerleader to best friend. Your clients will now sing slightly modified lyrics to ‘It takes a woman’ due to your exceptional ability:
Yes, it takes an Agent
A real Agent
To bring you the sweet things in life!
And if these lyrics don’t motivate you then think about what happens to clients when you mesmerize them with the picture of what you will help bring to reality. Dolly paints a picture (the ultimate sales technique) to two young innocent gentlemen that has them packing their bags and ready to go…
There’s a world outside of Yonkers (insert town here!)
Way out beyond this hick town, Barnaby (insert client name here!)
There’s a slick town, Barnaby
Full of Shine and full of sparkle
Close your eyes and see it glisten, Barnaby
Put on your Sunday (travel)clothes, there’s lots of world out there…
When you paint the picture, your clients will not only catch the vision but they will sing about it (you may think I live in a fantasy world but if you mess with me my pet Unicorn will be angry). Okay, it is an analogy so even if your clients do not sing a tune, they will catch the enthusiasm you have and share the excitement.
However even Dolly has to overcome objections just like you do. She may have painted the vision and they may be sold on the idea but with time doubts or concerns will pop up. In travel it could be many things so just like Dolly, we have to be prepared. The gentlemen were excited to travel but did not know how to dance which scared them, so Dolly taught them to dance. When objections come your way you simply need to provide the solutions. As is usually the case, an objection can be turned into a highlight if you are ready to handle it. In short order, due to Dolly’s ability to overcome the objection, her travelers were ready to go:
Well my heart is about to burst
My head is about to pop
And now that I’m dancing who cares if I ever stop!
Dolly was simply a master at showing people how to find happiness and you can have the same impact. Just follow her lead and learn how to get your clients to sing along – Hello Dolly, Hello Travel Agents.