Be a Better Travel Agent: Get the Edge on Online Travel Sites

Gone are the days when travellers automatically booked all their travel through a travel agent. With a wide range of online, self-serve travel booking sites available to consumers, it’s all too easy to click and book.

What most travellers don’t realize is that it’s not as easy to unclick a purchase as it is to click it. And most don’t discover this hard fact until it’s too late. Refunds and cancellation are, at best, a real headache online. And because the purchase is made through a third party, customer service is an afterthought.

This is where travel agents can make the difference between dreamy and nightmare travel. Travel agents are knowledgeable about destinations, the best ways to get there, and the best ways to avoid costly travel pitfalls. Here are some tips for how you can keep your existing customer base and get more clients through great customer service and unique positioning:

1. The Customer is King (or Queen): This time-honored adage is all but dismissed on online, as is the luxury of having a real person’s guidance which has almost become a lost art.  Every call-in is a lead and a potential lifetime client. If you can provide great service and information and make travel infinitely easier, chances are good that person will call again and again, even if the first sale was meager. Treating every customer (and potential customer) like gold will put gold in your pocket.  

2. Know Your Product: Take advantage of travel junkets. Get out and visit your destinations and study the market. Many people don’t have the time to research properties (and find out too late that their water view is overlooking an oceanfront construction site.) By averting possible travel disasters, you will earn the devotion of customers.

3. Share the Love: Even if you can’t get to a destination, network with other agents so that you can support each other and provide a comprehensive collective knowledge base. Refer clients to an agent who has actually visited the place, and chances are good that agent will remember you when the opportunity comes to refer clients back.

4. Conduct Travel Events: To expand your customer base, offer seminars on travel to particular destinations and educate audiences on the benefits of using an agent. Everyone loves special events, and they love even more to dream of travel. Whether you offer an online event via a webinar or podcast, or an evening get-together at your office (with good snacks and drinks!), you are getting the opportunity to develop new clients. Even if you don’t get direct business from event efforts, you are increasing the potential for referrals. And word-of-mouth is the best advertising!

5. Get in Good with a Business: Because business travel is often hectic and last-minute, depending on the needs of the company, this can be a great niche for a travel agency to add to their portfolio of clients. Make an appointment with the company’s decision maker and present the pros of booking business travel through a trusted source. Provide information that demonstrates how using an agency can save money and time.

6. Choose Best Marketing Practices: Along with social media and other online methods of marketing, take the time to learn traditional marketing practices. Local business organizations often provide learning opportunities for digital and traditional marketing. By learning the best practices, you will be giving yourself an advantage, not just over online sites, but competing travel agencies as well.

7. Practice Abundant Thinking: Rather than focusing on the fact that the market share is shrinking, shift your attention to opportunity.  There is always a place for a business that does the basics and builds great customer relationships. Instead of worrying how much you are getting from a specific sale, focus instead on providing the best service you can. It will pay off, guaranteed!

8. Offer TSA-Compliant Travel Bags: Whether you provide travel kits
to special customers, sell them, or offer them as giveaways at special events or contests, you are providing a value-added component to any customer’s trip. The pre-packed travel bags from Convenience Kits International are completely TSA-compliant, and will delight your customers with national brand personal items stashed in a well-designed kit for men, women, and children. No more worries about security gate snafus!

For smart travel agency marketing, learn more about Convenience Kits International.