Promoting our Value | TravelResearchOnline

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Promoting our Value

Recently, I have had booth space in 2 consumer shows here in my home town. While talking to people who stopped by,  I was amazed at the number of consumers who said they booked their vacations online.  I have said it before and I am going to say it again-travel agents and agencies need to show our value to the consumer. The average consumer thinks we don’t provide any real tangible value. They still think they are getting the best pricing doing it themselves.

How do you show value to consumers? Do you treat your clients like they are VIPs? Do you react negatively when they call you for a simple air request? Do you react negatively to budget consumers? Today’s budget consumer may be tomorrow’s upscale traveler. Everyone should follow the Golden Rule-treat others how you would like to be treated. Do we consistently do that? Do our negative thoughts affect how we treat others? I have heard all too often from clients they have contacted XYZ Travel Agency down the street and XYZ never followed up with them. Do you do that? I think at times we are our own worst enemies and are all guilty of dropping the ball at some point. We need to do better. Starting  with our current clients and potential clients. We need to appreciate them, quirks and all. When we do that we will have not only happier clients but they will refer others to us.

Do you have something prepared when consumers ask you why they should book with you? If not, I suggest making a list of why you are invaluable to consumers. Practice saying them over and over until it rolls off your tongue effortlessly.  Remember to be positive.
I would also like to see agents and agencies really work together to promote the value of using a travel agent. There is enough business to go around. We should not be scheming, plotting, rebating, and discounting to get business.  When I am at a Show be it a Bridal Show, Consumer Show etc. and someone tells me they already booked their honeymoon or vacation with another travel agent—I don’t make disparaging remarks about that travel agent or tell them they made a mistake. I thank them for booking with a travel agent and wish them a great honeymoon, vacation or cruise.  Likewise, I don’t say anything negative about the online agencies either. I reiterate my value and ask them to call me for their next vacation.  Be and act professional.

Get to know agents in your community by attending local trade shows. Better yet invite other agents to have breakfast or lunch with you. One of my reps was telling me how home based agents in her territory had breakfast once a month. Join ASTA, NACTA or OSSN and get involved. Work with your local newspaper and radio stations and let them know your value. Contact the travel editor of  your local newspaper and tell them you would like to see more pro agent stories. Work with your account executives to improve editorial content in your local travel section. Newspapers are looking for ways to increase circulation and advertising—this is a great opportunity to partner up. Be proactive on social media sites. When you see a question posted on linkedin why someone should use a travel agent jump in and answer it.  There is a field where you can select other experts on the topic—put agents names in that field who are linked to you so they can answer as well. Likewise use Facebook, Twitter and your blog to promote not only your value but the value of travel agents.

If we all work together we can help educate the consumer of our value it’s a win-win for everyone.

  5 thoughts on “Promoting our Value

  1. Joan Moore says:

    I admit I’m guilty, but you have made me realize that it’s only hurting not helping my business to be negative to online bookers and tire kickers. Well said article about working together and being positive. Thanks for the lift-up. Now lets clean up that oil spill in the Gulf and cork it for good and I can be a happy travel agent again. Livin in Florida

  2. JRK says:

    Your points drive home some very good food for thought. The problem is, the agents that NEED to see these wise words are not the ones reading publications such as this.
    Many travel agents are their own worst enemy! There are dozens of “agent only” websites that agents post really nasty comments about other agents, the industry in general, and suppliers, NOT realizing those comments go viral across the net! I know agents who actively go after other peoples clients and cut cost, rebate, or reduce their fee, or worse yet, do not even charge a fee! Just to get a client, with all sorts of ‘excuses’, the most lame excuse in the world, “oh! they are a good client!” DUH! if you are doing the work for free!!!! [The girl on the corner does not do it for free! LOL!!]
    Until travel agents value themselves, clients will not value us!
    One must have self respect to get respect from anyone!
    All sorts of agent websites say that independent contractors do not charge fees because they are not in the business to make money, just to travel for cheap!
    WRONG reason to be in the travel business.
    If an agency has a certain niche, then random callers may not get the best service, but there is a professional and polite way to turn away business.
    The sooner we get away from words like “deals” and “cheapest” then soon we will gain respect.

  3. carol says:

    Access to the once exclusive info for Travel agents only has been opened up to anyone who wants info. The amount of friends and customers telling me that they want to moonlight on weekends as agent is very much putting me in this defensive mode. I went to College for two years worked 23 years as a agent and owner travelled studied researched and the next door neighbour feels a few webinars will give her the chance to counsel clients from home or on weekends after her real job. Free travel is their motivation to try not the passion and work that real travel agents have dedicated to our profession. Lock down the access for anyone to write a TICO exam and claim they are now a professional Travel agent!

  4. “Do you react negatively to budget consumers? Today’s budget consumer may be tomorrow’s upscale traveler.” – This is a very common statement often preached to agents by the travel supplier and non-active agent travel writers.

    In my 16 plus years of business, not one budget customer has ever change their purchasing practices or become an upscale traveler. — Even those who have the resources to purchase more upscale travel. The budget mentality rarely ever changes. I agree that you need to be positive with all customer contacts who call or walk in, but draw the line on business that is not profitable. I’m not running a charity because of a very slight chance that this person could become my largest client. Instead back up the reason why you only offer premium and luxury travel. Sell your services as well as the value and exclusivity of what you are selling. That is the only way you will sell upscale products. You should not feel guilty about turning a client away. The elimination of budget clients has only increase profits and made my agency more efficient. – Don’t spin your wheels over maybes.

  5. Kelly Stone says:

    Any other tips on combating or converting the book on-liners? Cruise lines make it so easy for the consumer. Suggestions welcomed.

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