Last week I brought up the question of the relevancy of a travel agent to a supplier. And I firmly believe that if you are not proving your relevancy, you indeed are irrelevant on that side of the equation.
But what about the consumer side? Hopefully, each time you interact with a client or a prospect you are proving your relevancy to them. Hopefully, you have taken advantage of TRO’s 365 Guide. Hopefully your clients are getting your message.
If they are not, they are going someplace else and in today’s environment (and I am not talking necessarily about the economy), someplace else might be a very bad place. Certainly, your clients can go direct to the suppliers. Most suppliers prefer the agency model; but some are actually gearing up for direct sales. Some clients can head to your local competition. While bad, it is not that bad. You may still have a chance to win the client back in the future.
Or they can go online and look for the lowest price available. While the Internet is without doubt, the best technological advance for our generation, it is also the cause of many problems that would have never happened in “the old days”. Take the case of the honeymooners in Atlanta who needed assistance to navigate a site and had their honeymoon ruined. Or look at the many cases from Cruise Value Center who abruptly closed the doors last month. These customers ended up in very bad online places. I contend that they did not need to be there had a true travel professional explained and demonstrated their relevancy.
We must learn from our mistakes, and those of others. When you read about the couple from Atlanta, just think about what you do differently in your agency that would have saved that honeymoon. Think about the years of experience you have with the destination or the tour operator. Think about the connections and professional relationships you have built over the years that could have salvaged this most important trip. And then, make sure you are letting your clients and prospects know what you do and that you are relevant.
Cruise Value Center closed. Over the past month, questions have arisen about the clients. Well, according to a notice posted on their website, it does not look too good. It seems that they may or may not have sent client’s money to the cruise lines. If they did, it is a hassle. If they didn’t, you are out of luck. The clients who booked with Cruise Value Center most likely arrived there because someone was not relevant. Think about what led this agency to this point and what you do differently. Don’t let it be you.
A few years back, Vicki Freed, told me about a study Carnival had done on second time cruisers. Nearly 70% of second time cruisers did not book the second cruise with the agent that booked the first. Let me repeat that—70%!
Be a part of the 30%! Make yourself relevant to your clients. Make sure they are aware of what you do. You take it for granted. They will too unless you tell them that you made arrangements for that special table, or the flowers in their stateroom, or to allow them to board the ship early. As a relevant travel professional, you need to continually shout to your clients and prospects, “I AM RELEVANT”. And then prove it to them time and time again.