Travel professionals often say they sell dreams. They aren’t the
only ones, of course. Think about your personal trainer,
hairstylist or even the nursery salespeople who got you to take
home the lovely rose bush that’s now dying in your yard.
But you rarely hear a concise description of just how powerfully
the image of selling dreams could shape the travel industry’s
future and your own.
Dan Sullivan, creator of an entrepreneurial development program,
The Strategic Coach, recently presented just such a scenario during
his keynote address at Virtuoso’s TravelMart.
And, appropriately for an early morning session, the Canadian
trainer used coffee to do it.
Sullivan’s message: The more clients see travel as an experience
and the less they see it as a commodity, the more profit potential
you’ll have as their agent.
Using information from “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph
Pine II and James H. Gilmore, Sullivan traced the value of the
coffee beans used for one cup from the plantation (2 cents),
through processing (25 cents), to the corner luncheonette (50 cents
But, he pointed out, the experience factor is what boosts the
price at a high-end coffeehouse like Starbucks or the Coffee Bean.
There, customers pay $2 to $5 for a similarly sized beverage.
Sure, some of the additional cost may pay for a better quality
coffee bean, but the rest of the ingredients and the shop’s
overhead costs aren’t all that much more. People are paying for the
experience, the feeling they get while walking into a Starbucks and
ordering a coffee.
Sullivan suggested that listeners overlay that picture on their
agency business. For those who treat travel and their clients like
commodities the equivalent of two-hour-old coffee in a chipped mug
that’s the kind of sales they’ll make.
But for those who understand the experiential aspects, who take
the time to clean the pots and play soft jazz while it’s brewing,
the effort can be well worthwhile.