The life of a travel agent is nothing as glamorous as others may think. The past few weeks have been challenging to say the least. I say this because technology is attempting to replace the travel agent—again. I’ve received calls from potential clients requesting quotes only to compare them to what they have found on the internet.
I have been interacting with honeymooners whose main interest is to find the best “deal”. Many like the fact that they can go online and book their entire trip with the online travel agency-which means cutting out the travel agent altogether. But instead of getting discouraged, I’ve decided it’s time to adapt to the changing market. I need to convince my clients that I have the expertise and knowledge that you just can’t get online. At White Sand Travel, we strive to remain educated and well-rounded in all aspects of travel, but more importantly—honeymoons. We want our clients to realize that the internet is a hub for information and can provide a wealth of options for booking their vacations, but the one major thing that is missing is the “personal touch.” One of the ways that I stay informed and how I educate my clients is to go on site visits, attend trade shows, educational webinars, and read as many travel articles as possible. We all know knowledge is power. Additionally, I invite potential clients to supplier webinars so that they can learn from the experts. To keep our clients from booking on the internet, we need to offer more than they would get if they booked on their own.
A honeymoon is not just an ordinary vacation. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that requires much more than finding a great deal on the internet. In a recent conversation with a client, I said, “Consider that you are not interacting with a ‘real person’ to get first-hand knowledge about your interests. You are therefore making major decisions based on what you see and read. Pictures can be outdated, and descriptions can be exaggerated.” If you are doing your own planning, be very aware of all the components of your trip. Pay special attention to flight times and duration of flights. Travel protection is also very important. Be certain you are purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance so that you can fully protect your investment.
Travel agents are the first to know about what’s happening in the industry. We get promotions that are not always shared with the public, so we must find creative ways to keep top of mind with our clients. Weekly e-zines are great reminders of what we offer and the benefits of booking with us. We are the ones that have direct communication to our suppliers. Clients are not always in tune with what we bring to the table, but constant education does help. The client began to realize that by allowing me to customize her honeymoon, it would not only save her time but also offer peace of mind knowing that they are in good hands. Once a new relationship is developed, you will have a client for life. They know that any future vacations will be done right. They now have a loyal dependable agency that they can trust. I once attended a workshop at Palace Resorts. We had a few guest speakers that really stood out to me. They stressed the fact that sometimes the consumer is so confused by all that they see on the web, which is precisely why the services of a professional travel agent are more valuable than ever. I contemplated on those words and I now have more confidence in knowing that travel experts are still needed and utilized. even in this internet-based world that we live in.
Monique Gramby is a Romance Travel and Cruise Expert with White Sand Travel in the Atlanta market. Her passion for people and planning led to a career in helping people make their travel dreams into realities. You can learn more about White Sand Travel and Moniquewww.whitesandtravel.net