Don’t Sell the Destination, Sell the Traveller

November 1st 2013

The travel industry is like most industries in that it is incredibly inwardly focused in terms of sales, marketing and even in terms of its leadership and cultural development. Which is not to single the industry out for criticism, more to note that it shares a common problem faced by most business leaders.

So what does that look like and more importantly what does it mean?

It means most organisations talk about their features, their benefits, what makes them different or better and they rarely come from a customer centric point of view.

Now I'm sure many people reading this will argue, "No Dan, not us, we're very customer focused." And yet, if you look at the overwhelming majority of travel communication, or listen to speeches from their various CEOs, or pitches from travel sales people, you invariably get the same sort of messaging.

You hear all about the size of their new business class seats, the view from the room, the superstar executive chef or else the unique collection of attractions they have lined up for you to experience.

Now of course these things are all incredibly interesting and things consumers do want to know, but again, it's anchored in the travel world, not the consumer.

At The Impossible Institute, we research and analyse human behaviour and belief systems - essentially, what makes people do what they do - what makes them buy, buy in, follow and lift. And what we've learned is that people don't make rational, or even emotional decisions. They act in accordance with who they think they are (and who they hope to project to the world they are).

So, in addition to the lists of destination features, company benefits and transportation conveniences, I want to suggest that you begin to think about who you help your customers, staff and partners to be.

Great leaders have always painted rich pictures of who their followers could be and it's a pattern reproduced in the most effective marketing and sales strategies.

For instance, picture in your mind the typical Qantas frequent flyer. Now picture the typical Virgin Australia frequent flyer. How are they different? What do they each value? How do they dress? What do they talk about and what kind of carry on are they carrying. And then consider how they both differ from Jetstar's passengers.

All of these organisations are incredibly well defined and have distinct personalities. Some of this has been consciously created but a large part of it is simply a reflection of the leadership of the time.

These distinctions affect the way our customers and staff interact with us. They even determine where and how we travel and how we behave within those interactions.

This process overrides things like budget, or opportunity or even perceived superiorities.

So if you want to engage your customers and staff more effectively, think less about the destination your sending them to or even the activities you have planned for them and more about who they get to be with you when they get there.

For further information on Dan Gregory, or to enquire about booking Dan for your next conference or event please contact the friendly ODE team on 02 9818 5199 or email

For further information on Ode team or to enquire about making a booking for your next conference or event please contact the friendly ODE team

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Don’t Sell the Destination, Sell the Traveller
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