It’s likely you have heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. It basically states that roughly 80% of effects will come from 20% of the causes. For example, in any business, roughly 80% of its sales will come from 20% of its customers.
While the 80/20 rule is an important insight to keep in mind when running your business, I’d like to challenge you to apply a different 80/20 rule to your travel business. Specifically, I believe that as a business owner selling travel, client attraction is crucial, but under emphasized by most. Employing effective client attraction strategies on a consistent basis is what will make or break your business. However, I can’t tell you how many times I see business owners throwing their time, energy and money into product knowledge instead of learning about and implementing client attraction strategies.
It’s as if we have the emphasis turned upside down. The typical business owner selling travel is spending 80% of their time, energy and money on accumulating product knowledge and, at best, only 20% on client attraction strategies. But here’s the truth you may not want to hear: you can go on all the ship inspections, site inspections, educationals, and attend supplier webinar after supplier webinar…if you have no clients to sell to, all that product knowledge is a waste of time.
Am I saying you don’t need to spend time accumulating product knowledge? NO, not at all. But I am saying and encouraging you to reverse your emphasis. Why not start spending 80% of your time, energy and money on accumulating client attraction knowledge, and implementing client attraction strategies, and then 20% on accumulating product knowledge? Imagine what that would do for your business? I know what it would do…it would make you far more profitable.
Why do so many business travel business owners have it turned upside down? Because the vast amount of support you receive from your suppliers, host agencies, consortia, and travel industry associations are in the form of product knowledge/training. So you have all these “shiny, red objects” vying for your attention. As a professional selling travel who didn’t always have a huge pipeline of clients, I know I gained confidence when I learned more about the products I sold. And I made a silly, naive assumption that the more I knew about my products the more clients I would attract. That doesn’t happen. Just because you know every square inch of every all-inclusive property in Mexico doesn’t mean you will magically get clients for those resorts.
So, going back to my version of the 80/20 rule, I challenge you to dedicate 80% of your time, energy and money on learning and implementing client attraction strategies and 20% on product knowledge. The tricky part for you is that you have endless support for the 20% – accumulating product knowledge – and very little support or resources for the 80%.
Meredith Hill is founder of Gifted Travel Network (GTN). Building off of GIFTE’s principles, GTN supports its travel professionals by helping them build their own brands and by providing ongoing entrepreneurial education – or, as Meredith says, “entrepreneurial nutrition.”