This week’s articles are inevitable. To have an understanding of how to best engage clients in the buying process, we need to analyze other distribution channels and the reason a consumer might choose those channels over a travel agent. A consumer might choose to book directly with a supplier or through an online agency. But in each instance, the consumer booking other than through a travel agent does so convinced that it is their best interest. This week, we will look at the most common reasons consumers book other than through a travel agent and the impact on the buying process.
Note that we are not discussing the client that chooses to book with a traditional travel agent other than you. The choice between two agencies comes down to an entirely different set of criteria that largely has been topic of the 365 Guide from day 1. If you are continually losing business to the travel agency down the street, the issues you face are somewhat other than the ones we will be investigating at this juncture. If a client chooses another agency over yours, then at least they are in the market and you can win them over by honing your marketing and sales technique. Your real competition is with the thousands of consumers who choose to book other than through a travel agency – the “do-it-yourselfers” that have yet to be won over from the dark side.
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Effective marketing is the way many consumers will decide to book through a travel agent. However, we will be concerned this week with the actual buying process. It is nevertheless important for you to make certain that all of your marketing efforts are authentic and properly represent your agency to the public. The public mistrusts much marketing and advertising by travel agencies. But there steps you can take during the actual buying process to cement your relationship with the client through the booking process and beyond.
Consumers who self-book:
- Don’t clearly understand either the role of Travel Agent or the benefits of using an agent;
- Want to feel empowered;
- Fear that agents withhold information;
- Like the convenience of the internet;
- Fear they will pay more
During the process of your initial interviews with clients, you have a very short window of opportunity to address each of these issues. Openly dealing with possible objections early in the relationship is far preferable to addressing them later as an obstacle to closing a booking. The agent can provide the client with a sense of empowerment, demystify travel and encourage the client to participate fully in the research and booking process without fear of losing the client.
All it takes is a bit of confidence and preparation.