By Mark Luckey @roomsxml09 Mar 2016Can travel agents learn anything from the home delivery pizza industry? Sure can! Will be there in 17 minutes. I’ve drawn some whacky comparisons over the years and pizza is the most far fetched for sure. But the comparisons, lessons, technology, quality and human aspect has a staggering number of parallels to what has happened in pizza. Similarities? Surely you are taking the mickey. Think quality vs quantity. Think online commodity vs independent quality. Think about customers who will respond to the biggest marketing campaign. Think about massively funded behemoth brands eclipsing competition. Think bricks and mortar vs online. Think about people who want change but are not willing to change. Just think. The back story In 2015 over 2,500 independent pizza stores were shut down in the states. The main cause? A high tech battle that ma and pa could not have seen coming. Big brands, getting beaten into submissions by quality local offerings simply changed the rules and made pizza a high tech game. It stopped being about quality ingredients and the focus became pumping out trackable pizza deliveries with optimised balance of carbs, fat and salt. Commodities with no soul. Sound familiar? What chance does an independent travel agent have against Expedia? You are not helping yourself by feeding the monster. How about some facts Some of the changes that swept through pizza in the US included: More people working longer hours, perusing online Delivery growth (convenience) started eclipsing quality and experience growth (eating out) Overall pizza consumption dropped! But not for the high tech chains – the big franchises grew “Its not broke, don’t fix it” became the new black for failing business Domino’s – “A technology company that sells pizza” That’s a pretty big shift right there. They’ve changed from being a group who sell the crappiest product out there (I have had Domino’s pizza once, ‘nuff said) to selling a middling product using some of the best technology out there. Apps that track not only product but customers, that sell over social media, not over a counter. Need a shower before dinner arrives? Check to see where your driver is. Inconvenience killed off ma and pa “You can never make it too easy for customers to make a purchase.” The best have mobile apps with the lot including special offers. The saddest part was that a WHOLE STACK of ma and pa’s did not have websites that worked on mobile phones. Customers wanted to order pizza on the way home. Funnily enough they didn’t have their desktop PC with them and the train was too crowded to even get their laptop out. Removing the friction is essential for survival. Come on – seriously – pizza and a travel agent? Truth is, you need to see the challenges you face. What to do? Get your website mobile compliant Speak to your franchise body or group to see what they are doing about digital competitiveness Engage with your local community = there are still some people out there who want the quality an agent can offer. Do you think travel agents can take a few lessons from the pizza industry? Other stories you may like Joe Germano from Transair International Travel on the power of Cambodia Flight Centre employees, are transfers to Paris in your future? Could this really have been the best Travel Agent famil ever?