• Friday, April 19, 2024
businessday logo


Grow your business, build your brand: The winning formula for Nigerian tourism entrepreneurs

Grow your business, build your brand: The winning formula for Nigerian tourism entrepreneurs

Are you a Nigerian entrepreneur caught in the age-old debate of whether to pour all your energy into growing your business or to also invest time in crafting your personal brand? While building your business is undeniably crucial, neglecting the power of personal branding might just close doors to game-changing opportunities.

Cultivating a strong personal brand goes beyond online presence. In a people-centric industry like tourism, leveraging networking events allows you to showcase your expertise, build trust with potential clients and partners, and ultimately stand out in a competitive market.

Let’s delve deeper into this concept with some relatable Nigerian examples that highlight the pivotal role of striking a balance between personal branding and business growth in the realm of tourism and travels.

Networking anxiety can be a formidable obstacle, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your career journey. The prospect of entering a room filled with strangers, armed only with a name tag and a handful of business cards, can stir up feelings of dread and unease. Yet, by leveraging the power of tourism as a tool for networking, you can not only overcome these barriers but also forge stronger connections and boost your confidence in the process.

Many individuals approach networking events with a self-serving mindset, prioritising what they can get out of the interaction rather than building genuine connections. This approach can backfire spectacularly. People can sense desperation a mile away, and focusing solely on your own gain leaves a shallow impression. One of the fundamental misconceptions about networking is the belief that it’s solely about extracting value (e.g., “What can I gain from this?”) from others.

Networking goes beyond just swapping business cards. It’s about building lasting relationships that offer mutual support and resources. Imagine connecting with a fellow travel blogger who can offer insights into hidden gems or a local tour operator who can share unique experiences for your clients. You can share your expertise in cultural tourism with a museum curator while learning about off-the-beaten-path destinations from an adventurous backpacker. This approach not only eases anxiety but also fosters genuine connections that stand the test of time, enriching your network and elevating the experiences you curate for your clients in the tourism industry.

So, how can tourism serve as a catalyst for breaking down barriers and enhancing networking experiences? Here are several strategies to consider:

Cultural exchange events:

Organise or participate in networking events that incorporate elements of cultural exchange, such as food, music, and art. These experiences can serve as conversation starters and help foster a sense of camaraderie among attendees, making it easier to initiate and sustain meaningful interactions.

Destination networking retreats:

Instead of confining networking activities to traditional conference rooms or boardrooms, consider hosting networking retreats in scenic destinations. These retreats provide a relaxed and inspiring setting for fostering connections, while also offering opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Industry-specific tours and workshops:

Collaborate with local tour operators and industry experts to organise specialised tours and workshops tailored to your professional field. Whether it’s a guided tour of historical landmarks or a hands-on workshop showcasing local craftsmanship, these experiences can facilitate networking in an engaging and informative manner.

Virtual networking experiences:

In light of recent global events, virtual networking has become increasingly prevalent. Leverage technology to create immersive virtual experiences that replicate the spontaneity and serendipity of in-person networking. Incorporate interactive elements such as virtual tours, live demonstrations, and breakout sessions to enhance engagement and foster connections.

Sustainable tourism initiatives:

Embrace sustainable tourism practices as a means of fostering connections while also making a positive impact on local communities and the environment. Participate in eco-friendly tours, volunteer programs, or community-based projects that promote social responsibility and cultural exchange.

By integrating tourism into your networking approach, you can transform apprehension into anticipation for uncovering hidden gems and collaborating on unforgettable experiences.

Let your curiosity be your guide as you strike up conversations with professionals in the travel industry, from destination management companies to boutique hoteliers and even fellow travel bloggers with unique perspectives. Imagine the possibilities!

Each connection is a stepping stone to building a global network that unlocks a treasure trove of secret locations, exclusive cultural experiences, and bespoke adventures you can offer your clients.

As your network expands, so does your ability to curate dream vacations that exceed expectations and leave your clients with memories that last a lifetime.

Yewande Philip Ogunbiyi is the Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Travel Agencies (NANTA), Lagos Zone. She is also the CEO of Wendy Travels and Tours Limited.