A poorly reasoned article titled “Reasons You Should Never Book A Cruise Through A Travel Agent” is making the rounds on Facebook with a few thoughtful comments as well as the usual number of trolls looking to poke the profession’s collective spleen. At least once a quarter, if not more often, such articles appear as a reminder our marketing job is far from adequate to keep us in good stead with the public at large despite the spate of recent positive articles.
Unfortunately, the travel profession must share some portion of the blame. We are the professionals. It is our responsibility to make ourselves heard and understood. The travel industry has done a terrible job of explaining itself to the general public. By and large, consumers do not understand what you do, how you fit into their travel plans and why they should use you. Most members of the public think of travel agents as one possible way to buy travel out of several retail alternatives. Many ill-schooled travel agents reinforce that perception with product-driven advertising and marketing.
If a client buys from the internet rather than working with you, you never had the client from the start. You don’t lose clients to the internet. They didn’t “get it” because you didn’t explain your value well enough. In short, you failed to persuade. Don’t be angry with the client, they at least gave you an opportunity. Rather, sharpen your game.
Consumers are civilians: they drive straight to price every time. It is not in the least surprising their chief preoccupation is price. But if we affect an attitude, if we are unsympathetic to their concerns, we lose an opportunity to earn a client. Too often, we allow frustration to drive the conversation.
We make a mistake when we “blow people off.” We all should learn the art of persuasion – it is infinitely more valuable in business than the art of debate.
We would all do well to prepare an answer to the question “Can you beat internet pricing?” Honestly, are you prepared to cogently answer that question when asked? When you hear that question you have a terrific opportunity to educate a member of the public and to earn a client. You will hear it again. And again. So prepare your answer now.
What about an industry wide effort? I have argued before travel agents should be promoting a grassroots effort to educate the public by jointly marketing in their local communities. Give some consideration to a cooperative effort with your peers locally. The time you invest working with your fellow travel agents may well pay off for all involved: you, other travel professionals and, not least of all, the traveling public.
In the meantime, remember TRO provides you and all bona-fide travel professionals with materials to assist you with explaining your value to the public. As an example, a few of our videos are below for you to review. You can private label our materials, including the videos, to embed your logo and contact information. Use them in your social media efforts, your newsletters and your websites. If enough agents presented themselves as true professional travel planners, the public would begin to get the message. If you want to see other videos, different videos, let us know. You can obtain these by registering here on the site and looking at the Where2TravelNext section of the site under “Video Bumpers”. Also, please feel free to copy and paste this article from Travelhoppers: https://www.travelhoppers.com/articles/why-travel-agents-are-back-in-vogue/ (Please leave the byline and author bio intact!)