Don’t try to beat ’em; join ’em
It is 2016 and this new-fangled World Wide Web thing looks like it may just be more than the flash in the pan that everyone predicted. If you are still holding out for the Internet to fizzle out… well, it’s probably time for your business to fizzle out. It’s the truth. The Internet has been a huge double-edged sword for the travel industry. On one hand, we use it constantly for information and to actually perform our jobs. Can you imagine doing things “the old way”? On the other hand, the Internet and the Online Travel Agencies (OTA) have taken a gigantic share of our business and repositioned it in the hands of the suppliers and new start-up companies.
The good news is that the travel industry is resilient and constantly discovers new ways to re-invent themselves to retain relevancy and profitability. Because of the Internet, we have diversified, we have nicheified, we have specialized, we have grown, and we are stronger than we have been in a long time. Granted, we are a smaller industry, but a strong one. So embrace it! And share it with your clients!
I am not suggesting you point them to Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity. I am not suggesting you send them directly to your supplier. What I am suggesting is that you research available travel tools and share them. Your role as a trusted advisor should include this. Face it, clients all have smart phones and know where they can buy travel—they chose you! One of the services I provide to my clients as their trusted advisor, is my recommended apps for their smart phones to make their trip more meaningful. Do you? Here are some of my picks, all free and all on Android and iOS!
- Google Translate. My top pick—hands down! Tap in the foreign word or the English one and you are on your way. Snap a picture of a directional sign and make sure you are on the right path. The latest version has instant word recognition—hold your phone/camera up to a red octagonal sign that says “pare” and your screen will show “stop”. It is a very easy, and free, way to somewhat close the language gap when traveling abroad.
- Duolingo. If you want to take your language skills to a slightly higher level, Duolingo is a free app to help you. While not a language course, it does present the basic words, phrases and translations. I use this as a refresher on my crappy Spanish and French on the plane. It is designed much like a video game so it is not so much of a chore!
- XE Currency. Currency conversions are a pain. I remember my ex-wife one time took out 200 pesos from a Mexican ATM not really knowing how much it was. At the time it was just under $9 with a $4 foreign ATM fee and a $5 foreign currency conversion from my bank! Know the rate. With this app, you can even save a few of your most used currencies. It is also a freebie.
- PackPoint. For the longest time, I used to provide my clients with a packing checklist. This takes it a giant step further. Just put in your destination, dates of travel and duration and it will spit out a list of recommended items. Even more impressive is that it will take into consideration the weather forecast for your trip. You can customize it with your “must have” items as well. Again, it is free!
- Gogobot. More freebies. This is sort of like Yelp meets Waze for travelers. It is a social network and you simply snap a photo of where you are, tag it, and then chat about it. Others can see your experience, and you can see others. In large cities, it can be a life changer—planned to go to the Louvre? Check out Gogobot and see how the lines are from someone who is there.
Do you have any favorites?