I am typing this article on my shiny new iPad 2. Against the wishes of my inner geek, I promised to wait for the second version of this amazing device and it was worth the wait.
I love my slim new companion and I’m not alone. It might surprise you to learn that more than 50% of iPad owners are over the age of fifty – just like me. Why should a travel agent care about such things: because technology has gone mobile and travel is going along with it. The question is, will it leave you behind?
The next time you take a flight, sail on a cruise, or flop on the sand at a resort; look around. They’re everywhere. The iPad is the most popular tablet, but you’ll also see iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, Kindles, Xooms, Playbooks, Galaxy Tabs and many more.
The people using these gizmos are your clients. Based on the average user age, most are within the “sweet spot” target market for travel. This same market is now asking their travel agent questions like: “Can I use my iPhone in Mexico?” and “Will my iPad work for email on the cruise ship?” and “Can I make local calls in London using my Droid or will I need to buy a SIM card there?”
For some of you, such questions are tech issues that have little to do with travel. For more and more travelers, they are an integral part of the overall experience. They may even wonder, are you a TRAVEL consultant, or just a reservations and prices consultant?
What do I think? I think your expertise and knowledge about cruises, Paris, and Costa Rica trump all technology! However, if your best client is fumbling in a French café with their Blackberry trying to check-in for the flight home, they may think otherwise.
In addition to fees and consulting skills, this subject has suddenly topped the list of requests I get for speaking engagements. If you’re reading this article now, you’re staring at a computer or iPad yourself and have probably faced some of the same questions from your own clients. If not, you will.
We can’t do everything and do it all well. In choosing what we learn and where we focus, there should be one guiding light for travel agents: helping your clients to have the best trip possible.
For some, knowing how to send a message home to the baby sitter from an iPad in Paris could be just the thing that seals the deal. If you’re just not ready or willing to “go there,” don’t worry; someone will be.
Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry. He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada. Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.