Top 20 Things Every Travel Agent Should Do Now, Online and Offline

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NB: This is a guest article by Brian Tan, Founder and CEO of Zicasso, an online luxury travel recommendation service that connects consumers with top travel specialists.

In recent months, some industry research reports have revealed that more consumers are now inclined to use a good travel agent, reversing a downward trend.

This is good news for the offline agent industry and there is certainly plenty of reason to be optimistic.

However, the travel agent industry continues to be a challenge, with very low average annual earnings and hardly any top young talent joining the industry. Yet there are still those who do much better than the rest.

As CEO of Zicasso, it’s part of my job to find these top performers, collaborate with them, coach them and make them even better.

Based on my interactions with them and analyzing thousands of interactions between travelers and travel specialists on Zicasso, I have compiled a list of 20 useful tips for travel agents.

The ideas on the list are things every agent can do – right now – in order to adapt and thrive in today’s environment, in which travelers want personalized attention, value for money. and the convenience of the Internet.

1. Specialize

Pick a few destinations or activities and decide to be a better expert on them than anyone else. Consumers now have so much access to travel information, especially at their fingertips via the Internet, that they have become “general travel agents” themselves. When they ask for help, they look for a real specialist.

2. Personalize

Differentiate yourself from self-service online DIY solutions – and instead offer consumers highly personalized service, recommendations, and more, from your very first interaction with them – whether online, over the phone, or in person.

3. Develop a repertoire of unique experiences and privileged access

It’s about selling experiences. The more unique you are, the more value you add. The more you can give customers access to special events or people, the more you differentiate yourself.

4. Be complex

Consumers can book single trips themselves (for example, point-to-point trips such as Seattle to Las Vegas). Travelers really need agents for complex trips (eg longer international trips or cruises). Your energy and specialization should be on these complex journeys.

5. Go upmarket

Segment the market into two types of travelers: those with more money than time and those with more time than money. Agents can only compete for old segment business. Travelers with more money than time appreciate purchasing the expertise and ability of a travel agent to handle all aspects of the trip.

6. Work with net rates rather than taking commissions

Especially for custom tours, agents should consider getting net rates from suppliers and markup rather than taking a commission. This gives pricing flexibility and better cash flow, and reduces the hassle of collecting commissions.

7. Constantly self-check: am I offering the best value for money?

The market is constantly changing. For all your products and services that you offer, do you benefit from competitive prices? Do you have a variety of strategies to achieve maximum value for your customers?

8. Control your pitch

Have you honed your pitch if clients ask, “Tell me about yourself and your agency” or “What makes you different from other agents? »What are the three main messages of your pitch? Memorize them.

9. Develop “Trusted Advisor” Sales Skills

It’s consultative selling work: most agents can sell a lot more if they can be seen as a trusted advisor. This means relationship building and trusting skills rather than aggressive sales skills.

10. Develop a reputation / brand of trust

Get your agency written or published in the national media or at least in your local newspaper. Join the BBB. Ask customers to write you recommendations on LinkedIn. Build your reputation with real traveler reviews on SEO service.

11. Have a good website

Many agents have websites that are doing them a disservice. Agent websites need three key things: good design + engaging content + easy maintenance / updating. If you don’t have a good web developer, use services like Intuit or HP LogoWorks websites.

12. Be incredibly responsive and reachable – use a smartphone

Even when you’re away from the office, use a smartphone to be extremely responsive via voice, email, and social media. Use Google Voice to have a number calling you on your landline, mobile or any other number.

13. Improve process efficiency

Most agents have many opportunities to be more efficient in their business processes. For example, streamline the time to develop a personalized itinerary, the time to price a quote, etc.

14. Know when to charge

I don’t believe there is a cookie cutter answer about when to ask for a planning fee or a good faith deposit. Make a judgment on this for different types of customers.

15. Engage with social media

I highly recommend a Facebook page for your travel business. Encourage your customers to become fans and post reviews about your services. Engage them with ideas and advice.

It’s fine to post specials or deals, but a Facebook page is best used when it’s less about selling and more about interacting with fans and being useful with your acquaintances. For example, see Zicasso’s Facebook page.

16. Partner to obtain new prospects

Be a good marketer – or if you’re not, hire a marketing agency to help you out, or use a travel referral service like Zicasso for targeted, pre-qualified luxury leads. Save time and focus on selling.

17. Improve your writing / email skills

Many customers prefer email communications. Good writing is a sales skill that helps build trust and relationship with customers. Take a course to improve this skill and you will improve sales conversion as well.

18. Sharpen your first response to customers

Observe the quality of your first interaction with a new customer, whether it’s a phone call or an email. Making a good first impression plays a major role in converting sales.

19. Don’t sell offers: sell expertise!

Many agents advertise deals on their website and send the message that they can find the best deals. It is difficult to make deals on the Internet and will be even more so in the future. Transform your business and your message to sell expert advice and personalized service.

20. Be a lifelong student of change

This industry has changed dramatically and the pace of change will only accelerate. Be a constant student of best practices and be ready to adapt and embrace new ways of doing things… no matter how many years you’ve been in the industry.

And finally…

I have a request from everyone: as you succeed, be a role model for the next generation of young agents.

Recruit, inspire and mentor them. This industry is in desperate need of new blood and young talent will not join them until they see successful role models. I wish everyone great success in your continued business endeavors.

NB: This is a guest article by Brian Tan, Founder and CEO of Zicasso, an online luxury travel recommendation service that connects consumers with top travel specialists.


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