The internet has now provided the modern consumer with a gateway to quickly and easily get information about a destination, and independently book all elements of a trip online. Every travel agency nowadays has to do a lot more than they used to, in order to provide value added services and stand out from the crowd.
What should every travel agency be doing now to ensure that their business maintains its viability and continues to grow?
Pick an area of travel that you can and want to be a specialist in. With everyone able to do basic travel agent tasks such as searching the Internet for activities and accommodation, travel agents become useful by offering packages that are harder for the average person to know about, find and put together. Focus on just a few destinations or types of trips, and be an expert on those.
2. Give a personal touch
Be available to clients. The job of any travel agency is a personal one, and most people planning a trip want to feel reassured that they have contact with the agent in case of questions or issues that arise. Carrying a smartphone allows calls and emails to be monitored any time, anywhere. Improving communication skills, especially writing skills can improve the quality of the experience an agent can deliver to a client. Replying promptly to both first-time inquiries as well as current clients’ messages also builds the client’s confidence that their needs will be handled adequately.
3. Find your niche and sell an experience
Identify where the demand is for travel agency services, and focus marketing there. With the modern accessibility of the travel industry and the possibilities for travelers to book their trips by themselves with a click of a button through the internet, now more than ever, the added value of a travel agent is in selling experiences.
4. Maintain a high standard of quality
Strive for quality. The only way to set a business apart in any market is to push it towards being the best it can be. Identifying values and maintaining integrity to those can be a good way to build a quality reputation as a travel agent. Continually work on finding ways to make clients happy.
5. Become a salesman…but inspire trust
Perfect how you sell. Travel agents are running a business after all, and part of a successful business is making the sale. Travel agents will need to learn how to market their services, negotiate and persuade confidently. But don’t let it stop at business. Remember that selecting a travel agent also entails trusting him or her. If you are knowledgeable and confident in the advise you give and the services you provide then others will also be confident in you.
6. Are you online?
Develop a Web presence. The Internet is the way most clients will look for the services of travel agents, and the best way to network and advertise. A quality website that is easy to navigate and visually impressive will stand out. Using social media networks to share tips and travel information can help establish an agent as a thought leader in their field, as well as connect with potential clients, answer questions and build a reputation.
7. Explore Possibilities
The world changes constantly, and travel agents have to be aware of what people need in order to grow and improve how their business works. Streamlining the work process by partnering with other services to grow business is a good method. Hiring a marketing service or signing up for referral services allows some agents to find more leads and focus on being a travel agent.
Technology can be a driving factor in helping you to manage your travel agency tours more effectively. Don’t overlook it! Azavista for example offers a free eRFP and supplier sourcing tool. With Azavista you can send multiple requests in just a click of a button, find the best offers, book and even sign your contracts online. Furthermore, Azavista processes more than 60 million hotel prices daily and provides you with valuable information for cost effective planning. Now with Azavista Analytics you can analyze market demand and supplier pricing, hence allowing you to identify the best location, dates and suppliers for your next group tour or event.