As an industry, we are continually looking for ways to increase the visibility of our our agencies and our position against competition, especially on-line travel companies. The tool that gives us the most visibility and competitive edge is specialization. The definition of a specialist is “one who concentrates on a particular activity or product”. When you specialize in a particular area of the travel industry, over time you to develop a reputation as the expert in your area of specialization. As an example, our own travel agency specializes in up-scale all inclusive resorts. After specializing in this area for over 7 years, we now receive 5 – 10 calls a week from people who state they were told to contact us by friends or relatives because we were the experts in up-scale all inclusive resorts. By specializing, your business might experience a slight dip in the short term but will experience large growth in the long term as your reputation grows.
If you are going to specialize, you certainly can do it in more than one area but you need to make sure that you are an expert in all areas of specialization you select. It is much easier to begin specializing in one area, become the expert and then add another area of specialization
The day of the generalist in the travel agency community is coming to a close. With the advent of the online companies and the amount of research information available to the public, you as an agent or agency owner must know more about the products you sell than your clients. They are looking for the expert to help them and you cannot be the expert on every facet or type of travel. You can tell a prospective client, “I don’t know but I will find out” only so many times before they start questioning whether you know any more about their vacation than they do. This also is the area that the online companies are weak in. To get the amount of traffic they need to have to be successful, they have to be able to sell a multitude of products and most of these companies work from large call centers using people who are not experts in anything except phone sales. This is the time to take our industry back and specialization is a major tool in the effort.
We continue to compare ourselves to Doctors and Lawyers. Do we realize that these two industries were the first to specialize? When you go to your lawyer and tell them you need help with a legal real estate issue, the first thing they do will be to refer you to a real estate lawyer. Doctors are the same way. Family doctors are now known as Internal Medicine Specialists and when they detect a heart problem they will refer you to a cardiology specialist. As we can see both these industries have turned to specialization to survive and grow.
If we are going to compare ourselves to doctors and lawyers, we need to do it in more ways than just charging fees.
Geoff Millar is the Co-Owner of Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel Inc., specializing in All-Inclusive Resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean for Honeymoons, Weddings, Families, and Groups. www.ultimateall-inclusivetravel.com