So spring is in full swing here in Boise and the sun is shining, which of course keeps everyone in a good mood. However I have gone from full speed ahead to a grinding halt. It seems that March was go-go-go and I didn’t have time to think, and now I am twiddling my thumbs on some days. I love what I do and I love being busy but the challenge is trying to find a happy medium between overwhelmed and bored out of my gourd. I am relatively new in the retail travel industry, which is a disadvantage for me. Additionally, I am relatively new to the Boise area so I sometimes feel as if I am at a distinct disadvantage. I need help in marketing myself better and reaching out to the markets that haven’t been touched yet. I need to get my name out there. January, February and March helped me peak; but I would like to stay at that level. With today’s technology it’s hard to compete with all the online sites and I am constantly coming across the questions, “why should I use a travel agent?”, “what do I benefit from by using you?”, and “how do I go about using a Travel Agent?”
So why should someone use me I ask myself??
- I am an expert in this field and I can save you lots of wasted time researching and stress.
- I have travelled to a lot of destinations and experienced those areas.
- I am your travel advocate to help you should you run into problems.
- I can find the right destination based on your needs and budget.
- I add that personal touch to that dream trip you are taking.
- I protect your investment with no hidden agenda.
- I love my job. I love helping find the best fit for your family vacation.
Marketing myself to the right clients
I could go on and on. How many people actually work in a career they love? I feel lucky to be doing something I love; but how do I get myself out there? You go to a doctor when you’re sick instead of researching your illness online. You go to a lawyer when you have legal issues! So why not believe a travel agent is here to help you and not rip you off? On the flip side how do I prevent myself from being seen as a library of information without the benefit of a sale…and commission? Email is a great tool but can work against me too as it makes it too easy for clients to reach out, without feeling obliged to book. I assure customers that we are in the people business and are here to give quality and value. When clients start telling me they looked on Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz I start to cringe. No, please no! I explain to customers that we can meet any budget and plan any kind of vacation as long as they are realistic in their expectations. You won’t get 5 stars with a 3 star budget. It’s simple math–nothing is free in this day and age. As agents we are striving for success and building lasting relationships.
Plans for the future
So what do I do? I am very loyal to my customers and keep in contact regularly with updates and information they might find useful; but then I hit a blank wall. How do I keep the customer loyal to me? We, as an agency, are well established on the West coast but even today there are folks who have no idea who we are, or the first thing about using an agent. I am often asked “can you book hotel rooms or just flights?” Have we really been relegated to the past? Or are we making a comeback? Sometimes I wonder. I like to think that our industry is on the rise, as I know travel is timeless. So how do I make myself the best at what I can do? I have the personality and the social skills; and I, most definitely, am not shy. If I had my way, I would make it compulsory to travel, as I believe it’s an education in itself; but how do I convince the rest of the world? That is the question I need answered. Any suggestions?
An update from last month
Remember the gentleman that wanted to disrupt the love of his life’s wedding in Fiji? Well another agent contacted me after reading the story on TRO. It seems she took the business and sent him to Fiji where he found his now-married love to declare his love. It turns out that she felt the same. The marriage is being annulled. But the story get’s better. Apparently while in Fiji, Toby Keith’s manager heard him strumming his guitar and took an interest. When he and his love returned, they ended up booking a one-way trip to Nashville. See dreams really do come true. He got the girl and is living the dream! Bravo!
Nikki Smith works in a Boise based brick and mortar agency, Global Travel, a Virtuoso Agency. Nikki got her start in her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland when she started in the industry as a flight attendant. She has also worked as a guide for ski and snow vacations worldwide.