The speaker had the stage for less than 10 minutes. In that short period of time, she inspired thousands of people to take a tour of her hometown. She didn't use any slideshow, fancy video or exciting sales pitch. She simply told an incredible story.
Stories are remarkable tools that bring meaning to a place, a time, a people, building an unforgettable experience. Stories can inspire, captivate and engage new audiences while dispelling preconceived notions and creating newfound interest.
So what makes a great story? Connections - little bits of relatable and related content that weave time, place and people together. Stories told with humor, emotion and by animated storytellers draw an audience's attention.
Here are a few great tips to help you craft and incredible story you can use to sell your destination or travel experience.
Start with a relatable experience, end with a zinger
Start your story with something everyone in your audience can relate to - feelings of love, loss, joy, freedom, anxiety or burden. This gives the audience a chance to feel like they're a part of the story not just listening to the a tale being preached to them. They're invested in what you will say next. Let this lead you to the facts, the places and people that connect the different elements of your story. When you finally reached the end of your story, tie it all together with a surprising wow, something the audience didn't see coming, that is refreshing, lighthearted and will leave them wanting more.
Brevity is Power
Your audience will be far more impressed with how you made them feel about their experience then they will be in your comprehensive collection of seemingly random facts. They audience will forget the facts but they’ll never forget how you made them feel connected to the place. Use fewer numbers and more poetry when talking about your subject.
Read the Audience
If they’re distracted, throw in a surprise, jump, talk like my grandma does, with your hands! Use body language cues to tailor your tale to the audience. Take time to listen to the audience before starting your story to learn what may be most interesting to them.
Make it Personal
People want to explore like locals, with locals. As we’ve seen with the surge in programs like Airbnb Experiences, TripAdvisor Experiences, Local Expert and so many others, audiences are looking for ways to feel connected not only to a place, an attraction or an activity but to the people who live it.
Let the audience know why this story touches you, how you’ve been influenced by it. Invite the audience to feel connected to you, the storyteller. Our market research shows that professional trade buyers consider their relationship with the sales person as one of the top 3 factors in deciding which products to include in their packaged travel offerings. Make sure those you tell your story to feel connected to both the content and to you personally.
Want to learn how to create compelling stories that sell your product? Talk with one of our experts about our amazing workshops, training programs and keynote talks.
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About the Author…
Stephen Ekstrom is a tourism marketing and consulting pro whose influence reaches over 500,000,000 travelers every year. He's been profiled by the New York Times and appeared on CBS, NBC and NY1. He is a respected leader within the travel trade and has served as a board member, expert panelist, committee chair, mentor and program facilitator.
Fire Starter Brands, founded by Ekstrom in 2010, has cultivated a network that includes more than 21,000 opted-in domestic and international travel trade buyers, advising and assisting smart travel industry suppliers and destination marketers. Stephen currently lives in South Florida with his two dogs, Match & Rudy.