Column: Step Up Your Elevator Pitch

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Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Vice President–Content/Editorial Director
Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director

With the new year upon us, we’re bringing back some popular how-to tips to help you sell better and enhance your clients’ experience. 

When we speak of the value a travel agent can bring to a booking, the big picture elements usually come up first. The assistance they can provide if something goes wrong, the time they can save you by sifting through a myriad of travel options and the details they can tend to that make your trip go more smoothly.

But if you had only, say, 30 seconds to sell your worth, the same amount of time it would take you to ascend five floors in an elevator, would such an explanation convince a stranger to book their travel through you from that moment on?

Maybe, if your elevator pitch is extremely succinct and compelling. But my guess is, the conversation would go something like this:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a travel agent.”

“I thought you guys all went out of business years ago.”

“No, we’re still around.”

Fifteen seconds have already gone by, by the way. How will you recover and sell yourself in the next 15 seconds?

If the reality is that you’re able to provide your clients with special perks because of your network or consortia affiliations, why not pitch that first? You’re not looking to acquire clients who are only looking for a deal, but free breakfasts, transfers and VIP treatment are certainly going to draw the average human into your fold much more quickly than just the promise of fulfilling their travel dreams. This is a concept that has to be explained to them during a sit-down meeting when you can look them in the eye and explain the types of experiences you can craft for them after you assess their desires and needs and determine exactly what they want to get out of their vacation.

Consider a good old-fashioned TV ad. Many advertisers typically have a 30-second spot with a storyline and then a 15-second spot that explains their product’s benefits in a more succinct manner. This is to grab the ear of the person who is getting off the couch to look for the corkscrew so they can open another bottle of wine or to take the popcorn out of the microwave.

Are you ready to explain your value in a tight sound bite to someone who is barely listening to you but has expressed curiosity about your profession? Practice your quick pitch in front of the mirror or with friends and don’t stop until you’ve got an opening grabber that will enchant your elevator companion and compel him to take your business card as he’s stepping out of the elevator onto the fifth floor. It will be time well spent.