Sandals will wrap your car. Almost every cruise line will print flyers and materials with your logo and contact information. You can use co-op dollars to get banners with vendor logos and imagery. But just because you can, should you? I think the answer should be “no” more often than it is “yes”. Why? Because you should be putting your effort into building your brand, not theirs.

Let’s take the example of a trade show or event. It is very tempting to fill up your booth with brochures and materials from vendors. Many of them do an amazing job creating beautiful pieces that tell their story. But that’s the point: they tell their story and not your story. If you are just seen as an intermediary to the vendor, then you are a “middleman” who can easily be cut out of the picture.

A great example of this is Sandals’ car wrap program. Yes, it looks cool. Yes, it gets attention when you’re driving down the road. But the business it generates is mostly for Sandals and not for the agent driving the car. Sandals knows this and that’s why they promote the program so heavily. You are essentially giving them lots of great advertising in your local area.

The same thing is true when you use a vendor’s promotion on your social media accounts. I am surprised at how often I see an agent share a post from a vendor and when the client clicks on that post where do they end up? At the vendor’s website. How does that help you? It doesn’t!

The bottom line is that your marketing should be about YOU. You need to be telling your story! Who are you? What do you have to offer? Why is a client better off working with you than booking direct? Many agents don’t tell their story because they aren’t clear on their own value. If that is true for you, this is the first thing you need to fix!

Spend some time writing down what value you bring clients. Maybe you have ideas of ways you can deliver value but haven’t yet implemented these ideas. Write those down too. You should have a very clear value proposition that you are comfortable discussing. It should be a part of what you share when you talk to potential clients and when you’re networking. It should drive all of your marketing decisions. And it can help you make more money because it is a key reason why you can charge fees.

Let me be clear: I am not saying that you shouldn’t use any of these vendor pieces. They can be used to supplement your marketing. Your host agency or consortium may provide some beautiful marketing materials that are appropriate to use. But don’t let them become the bulk of your marketing. A good rule of thumb is to make 80% of your marketing focused on you and 20% on partners/destinations.

Some of you are probably cringing at that idea. You may be wondering how you can come up with that much content. Hopefully you get great ideas from your host agency and/or consortium, but there is another great option coming up soon: Travel Entrepreneurship Week. This is the 3rd year that our sister company, Global Institute of Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE), has hosted this event celebrating travel entrepreneurs by sharing lots of great content. And the cost? Free! What’s better than that? And all GIFTE content is completely independent and appropriate for agents affiliated with any agency.

I hope the next time you consider sharing a vendor-sponsored marketing promotion you will pause and consider how it fits into your marketing plan and if it is actually taking the attention away from you and all the amazing things you can do for clients.

Gifted Travel Network, Inc. | 425 E. Statesville, Suite 101, Mooresville, NC 28115 | (877) 982‐2842

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