Recently I was filling out a form for my daughter’s school, and I told my wife that I so no reason to include our daughter’s social security number on the form. My wife asked, “Why do you ALWAYS have to go against the grain?”
After responding that there is no shame in being a contrarian and having spent the night on the couch, I realized how important it is in our industry to do things differently from every other agency. If you are thinking this is not a good strategy, let me share ways you can be a contrarian too.
Is every agency you know sending out email after email of special after special to their entire mailing list? Why not take those same specials that everyone, including your suppliers, is sending out and pick one or two that represents a true value and send it JUST those clients on your list who have an expressed an interested in that destination or ship. By the way, if you are not on other agencies mailing list you should be.
Are other agencies sending out email confirmations and invoices? Can you really be sure that you client’s are receiving those important emails? Why not print yours out, attach a stamp, hand sign it with a thank you and mail it?
Do you know an agency which just emails a link to one of those destination reports? Why not print them out and mail them yourself? Are there too many pages to print? Then just highlight the activities that you know will appeal to your clients based on your intensive interviews with them. Believe me it is possible to overwhelm some clients with too much information.
Trust that you client will remember and print out those vouchers for tour providers during their shore excursion? Why not print them out yourself, and put them in a binder or folder by port so your client can easily locate them.
What about brochures? One school of thought is to never send out a supplier’s brochure because the client can just book direct. You may think you can just email the relevant pages. I don’t know about you, but my spouse has never once cuddled up on our couch with a print out from a brochure, and you will never find me using my iPad as reading device in the bathroom!
I can hear you saying that all of this printing and mailing will cost money! You know the smartest way to be a contrarian in this case is to charge a fee for your services.
Finally another way you can be a contrarian even if you do not book your client’s air is to offer to check them in for their return flight. Find out how many bags they are traveling with, get their passport information (hopefully a copy of the information page) and with their permission get them checked in to fly home. Want to surprise them? A great gift would be to pay for more leg room, or even an upgrade to business or first if available and does not break the budget. Advise them they can “reprint” their boarding passes when they check their bags in at the airport.
Truly being a travel agent is highly competitive. However, if you remember that there is no shame in being a contrarian, you will find yourself offering services that your clients won’t find elsewhere.