10 Critical Ways Travel Agents Can Compete with Web Booking

 In Chicago, Travel

travel agentsTravel professionals have a tougher job than ever before because there are so many ways people can research, compare and book their travel experiences- it’s a landscape like never before! Travel is a global industry, one whose products — tickets and itineraries — are easy to deliver to customers. Also, because it’s a perishable product — one that can’t be sent back if unsatisfactory — travelers demand as much information as possible before purchasing trips, from flight schedules and fares to tidbits about weather and special events. According to an interesting article recently from the Wall Street Journal online, “The Internet isn’t just for surfing anymore. Some people are also snorkeling, scuba diving, skiing and sightseeing through the World Wide Web.”

And it gets even more interesting since now travelers from around the world can swap experiences, tips and testimonials. They can search for exotic special-interest destinations, check pictures of hotel rooms and browse through schedules and offerings.

Keeping all these factors in mind, we found a great list from tnooz.com that offers clever ways travel agents can differentiate themselves and compete in this new competitive market.

  1. Specialize

Pick a few destinations or activities and resolve to be a better expert at them than anyone else. Consumers now have access to so much travel information, particularly at their fingertips via the internet, that they have themselves become “generalist travel agents.”  When they seek help, they’re seeking a true specialist.

  1. Personalize

Differentiate yourself from DIY, self-service online solutions – and instead give consumers highly personalized service, recommendations, etc., right from your very first interaction with them — whether online, by phone or in-person.

  1. Develop a repertoire of unique experiences and special access

It’s all about selling experiences. The more unique, the more value you’re adding.  The more you can provide clients access to special events or people, the more differentiated you are.

  1. Market yourself for complex bookings

Consumers can book the simple trips themselves (e.g. point-to-point trips such as Seattle to Las Vegas). Travelers really need agents for complex trips (e.g. longer international trips or cruises).  Your energy and specialization should be on these complex trips.

  1. Go upmarket

Segment the market into two traveler types: Those with more money than time, and those with more time than money.  Agents can only compete for the former segment’s business.  Travelers with more money than time value purchasing a travel agent’s expertise and ability to handle every aspect of the trip.

  1. Work with net rates rather than take commission

Especially for custom tours, agents should consider getting net rates from suppliers and marking them up rather than taking commission. This gives pricing flexibility better cash flow, and reduces the hassle of collecting commission.

  1. Constantly do a self-check: Am I delivering the best value?

The market’s constantly changing. For all your products and services that you offer, are you getting competitive rates?  Do you have a variety of strategies to get your clients the most value?

  1. Master your pitch

Have you perfected your pitch if clients ask: “Tell me about yourself and your agency,” or “What makes you different from other agents?”  What are the top three messages in your pitch?  Memorize them.

  1. Brush up on “trusted advisor” sales skills

It’s a consultative sales job: Most agents can sell a lot more if they can be perceived as a trusted advisor. This means relationship-building and trust-building skills rather than pushy sales skills.

  1. Develop a trusted reputation/brand

Get yourself or your agency written up in national media or at least your local newspaper.  Join the BBB.  Get clients to write you endorsements on LinkedIn.  Build your reputation with real traveler reviews on a referral service.

Get more great tips at tnooz.com now.

Travel agents find themselves challenged by the world of vacation options clients can access at their fingertips. Developing a specialty and concentrating on marketing offers travel professionals a way to promote their expertise and ensure the vacation of a client’s dreams.

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