I’m sure many of you will be parents like myself, and with half term just gone and Easter approaching, you will therefore be familiar with the routine of a bedtime story. But it’s not just the kids that love a good story. Tales are what make us tick, whether it’s a plot in a soap, a good book, play or snappy headline that captures our attention. Indeed, every sales person will have a story of how they have done something for a customer that has made that customer feel special. In an ever evolving industry where businesses are focused on data, profit and margin, we must remember what makes us different. The ability to create and share these success stories is that differentiator, and it is more important and relevant than ever before. According to a recent study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte, about 35 per cent of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerisation over the following 20 years. You can Google “will a robot take my job” and see how future proof your profession is, or indeed the professions our children may be considering. Out of interest, travel agents score a relatively low 26 per cent chance of being automated, which was certainly a relief to me. However, I also think this could be a little misleading. It applies equally across all industry sectors, but if a “travel agent” just does the booking for the customer, the risk of automation is high and indeed already with us. Look at grocery shopping, event tickets or even banking. In our sector, we have already seen the development of travel web sites, supported by online virtual travel agents. However, whilst robots may be able to recount a story, they can’t create one. As a result, the businesses that truly stand out are the ones with the success stories of how they have helped people. Most studies show that people buy based on emotion rather than logic, and stories and anecdotes will stir the emotion more than anything else. As cognitive scientist Roger Schank said: “Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic – they are ideally set up to understand stories.” So great businesses are also great story tellers and “social sharers”. Social media gives us the ability to collate our success stories and share them across a global network of current and potential customers. These stories are free PR, the clearest sign of what you are about and they create the narrative and personality for the business and your personal brand. And don’t let the doom-mongers or defeatists convince you of anything to the contrary. In one of my favourite business reads, Daniel Pink’s bestseller “A Whole New Mind”, he stated: “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathisers. The people, artists, investors, story tellers, caregivers, consolers, will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.” That is why those jobs that are least likely to be automated are those that require the highest amount of human qualities such as empathy, including nursing, care workers and psychologists. The message for us in the travel industry, and those we want to encourage to join it, is simple – ramp up the care and empathy with a customer, focus on how you make them feel more than the price of what you offer and “bring it to life” by sharing the success stories of the things you do naturally for customers because you care and you operate in a culture that fosters doing what is right for the customer. So, when you’re telling those bedtime stories at night, remember that it’s all good practice for the office too.
This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.
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