As travel agents we all go the extra mile for our clients. At least we should if we want to stay in business. We know resorts, destinations, the best restaurants. We can take care of problems that crop up during a client’s vacation. But, does the average consumer know all of this? Do they really “get” what we do? I don’t think they do.
As travel agents we are doing a mediocre job of educating consumers. Case in point-I gave a presentation to my networking group recently on “Why use a travel agent.” In my presentation, I outlined that travel agents still book a lot of cruises, tours etc. I stressed our value and why people should book with us. I even had some cute cartoons and anecdotes in my presentation. Afterward, several people came up to me and expressed surprise that we were still a viable source for not only booking travel but at our value. They thought we were for “people who had a lot of money.” It just amazed me the comments I received.
So, why aren’t we doing a better job of educating the consumer? I have heard agents grouse that ASTA should be doing a national campaign or bring back the “Without a travel agent you are on your own” campaign. Reality check—ASTA does not have the funds. A national campaign would cost millions and millions of dollars. Is everyone prepared to pony up donations for ASTA to launch a campaign of this magnitude? I don’t think so. Without a national campaign where do we go? What do we do to get the word out? I have a couple of suggestions. Some of them are at no cost. Get out there and give presentations on using a travel agent like I do. There are groups in your community looking for speakers—Rotary, Lions Club, Women’s Clubs.
Remember, when giving a presentation to these groups you can’t sell. Tell them the value of using a travel agent. Have your information available but don’t push product or sell them on booking with you.
Another idea is to start a grass roots campaign in your community. Get your local travel agents together-both at home & brick and mortar and discuss ways to promote your value. Advertise on local TV, radio or newspaper. Get on your local TV stations or cable stations. Promote our value! There is enough business to go around for every travel agent. Start telling people why they need to use us and show our value. I think it’s a win-win for all of us!