A man walks into a store and asks, "Does this poison oak soap work?"

I answer "Yes," and he pauses a moment, then puts down the soap and walks out the store, minus the bar of soap.

A man walks into a store and asks, "Does this poison oak soap work?"

I answer, "Let me tell you what happened a few years ago. I was pulling weeds with my bare hands, not knowing it was poison oak. I was covered with hives and just miserable. Even the doctor's expensive, high-powered steroids didn't give me relief. Then my son bought me this soap, which was the only thing that helped the itching. Landscapers tell me they use this soap prophylactically if they think they might get exposed to poison oak because it reduces their risk of getting it. And the soap lasts for years; I still have most of my soap from two years ago. Would you like me to add this bar of soap to your purchase today?"

He nods enthusiastically and walks out of the store, a proud new owner of poison oak soap.

What's the difference? A story.

A story makes the unfamiliar familiar. A story draws people into the experience, making them a participant, not a bystander. A story ignites their imagination and allows them to assume starring roles in the story. It allows them to feel what the characters feel, see what the characters see, and experience similar outcomes to the characters.

Can we use stories in our travel selling? Absolutely. We are fortunate to have thousands of personal experiences from our travels and can also draw from the story banks of our clients.

Instead of relaying that a client's proposed accommodations are 650 square feet and include a sitting area and balcony — which may all be as factually true as saying the poison oak soap works — why not describe your first balcony sunset after a long, tiring day of travel and how you rejuvenated with an in-room dinner with the open sliding door to catch the evening breezes and ocean surf.

Instead of reporting the resort has four restaurants on site, how about describing your amazing waiter who surprised you with a complimentary appetizer after hearing your offhand comment about a beloved ingredient.

Instead of describing an activity as having three ziplines and a picnic lunch, why not describe your very first zipline? Tell the client how you're terrified of heights, and how you screamed at your first send-off, but found it so exhilarating, that by the third zipline, you were mesmerized by the waterfalls and lush wild flowers below you. Describe how you listened to the birds and sounds of rushing water as you munched on sandwiches and fruit under the glorious rainforest canopy.

Or, instead of reciting a menu of spa treatments available at a particular hotel, why not tell the story of your amazing massage in a private cabana at the water's edge, where the sounds of water and sky merged with the deep strokes of the masseuse to melt away all stresses and knots and enveloped you in the peace you craved.

You can mention that outdoor markets are available near their resort, or you can tell them how you scored a kilo of olives for only two euro and the bouquet of colorful flowers for only one euro, which brightened your hotel room for days.

Travel is ultimately a collection of stories: the people we meet along the way, from the kind French woman who helped us navigate the RER to the dour old man who didn't want us to shop in his store; the meals we enjoy — or don't; the sights we see — or miss; the experiences, big or small, that make an impact, like when our driver stopped on a mountain road to show us how to pick chestnuts.

We travel to create stories, recount those stories to our friends on our return home, and store them in our memory bank for gratifying withdrawal as needed. Let's use those stories to engage our clients in the travel experience; it will make it easier to sell travel. If nothing else, it will give you the opportunity to relive the joy of your remembered travels.