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Agents need to embrace their 'best' status

Travel Agents need to change to survive, we kicked off the conversation last week with the first in a three-part series on why evolution is critical. Today we continue with part two...

Travel Agents need to change to survive, we kicked off the conversation last week with the first in a three-part series on why evolution is critical. Today we continue with part two…

At the Travel Vision 2020 events in October 2016 , Meg Salter commented: “no hotel ever advertises themselves as ‘pretty good’… Every hotel is the best, has the most beautiful images, the bluest pool… no one says they are ‘pretty good’.”

If you are having a heart attack, do you go to a GP or do you go to the best cardiac surgeon possible? How do you know they are the best? Probably because they told you.

Travel is an industry of smoke and mirrors. It’s about selling dreams and experiences and getting people excited to travel further. Whether it’s as simple as a slightly doctored photograph or being a winner of one of those fake awards.

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Just last week I knocked back my invitation to be CEO of the year, which would influence at least 130,000 members.

But, how many times you have read “xxx is the world’s best in xxx”. Best is a definitive word. There is one best. There are not 12 ‘bests’, there is one.

Think about loyalty schemes, quoted values – things not being quite as advertised. Yet amazingly, these awards seem to add value.

Is bullshit about to become the new black?

Look at the ACCC’s response to Webjet falsely claiming that Travel Agents rip people off. It achieved nothing. I’m not being critical of going to the ACCC as it is the process to follow, but in the real world, it achieves nothing.

The valuable lesson from the US election was that truth can be faked by weight of numbers.  The truth didn’t matter as much as the sensational nature of the content. Where there is smoke there is fire, right? Hillary Clinton must have been dodgy in some respect to have that email server. She also had a lesbian affair with Yoko Ono back in the 70’s. Trump manipulated the media beautifully. All we heard about was Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump.

Mainstream media are now admitting the Tweeter in Chief might actually know what he’s doing.

When incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer wakes up in the morning, he immediately checks Twitter to see what President-elect Donald Trump might have tweeted overnight.

“I do look there first, because that’s what’s going to drive the news,” Spicer said Wednesday evening at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. “I mean, whatever he tweets is going to drive the news.”

It didn’t matter if it was right or wrong but what mattered was that the voting public in the US, started to believe what they read as there was so much of it.

But this has created a significantly bigger problem that plays into the hands of social media.

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Facebook and Google are going to ratchet up their efforts to stop the dissemination of fake news stories. But is that counter-intuitive? After all, the more shares and the more clicks means more advertising space sold, no matter how accurate the story. So why would they stem their own lifeblood?

Yet at the same time, they are about to become the guardians of truth. Think about it, you write a great story about how wonderful your travel agency is and you refer to something on an island. Someone reports you and convinces the moderator, a 22-year-old working at 4.00am in the Philippines, that the story you just posted is fake. Suddenly your post is branded with ‘potential hoax’.

Attention is deflected away from you. Your brand suffers. Eventually it will get moderated better and the bigger you are and the more money you have the easier it is to manipulate it to work for you. Facebook and Google now get to determine what is true. What if they change their mind? Even better.

We love news. We love gossip. Our appetite is insatiable for gossip. Think about how many times nude pictures from Jennifer Lawrence were shared. While everyone was horrified that her private content was disseminated, there was also millions of people who whilst horrified, went searching.

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Depending on what you want to believe, James Hird recently tried to commit suicide.  No matter what you believe about his involvement as a cheat/drug sheet/immoral/champion, whatever, is it really appropriate for newsreaders to sit outside his house and film commentary?

Sadly at the end of this, there is a massive victim and that is truth.

For all intents and purposes, I wonder if it really matters anymore.

And with that in mind, how do Agents take this on board and respond? Put away your moral compass for a moment and wonder just what you could get away with to generate new business? Would it matter if everyone else was doing it?

Agents need to be the best at something. The niche of the niche. The go to person. The Solver of problems. The builder of dreams. Don’t take on the machines in the machine world.

What are your thoughts on social media and control?