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Travel Agents need to manipulate social media to their benefit

After accepting Travel Agents need to change to survive and discussing why they need to embrace their best selves, it's time for third and final part in my 'new media rules for Agents' trilogy.

After accepting Travel Agents need to change to survive and discussing why they need to embrace their best selves, it’s time for third and final part in my ‘new media rules for Agents’ trilogy.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve come to some important understandings:

– Mainstream news and advertising processes are no longer effective influences
– Social media in all its shapes and forms is a stronger influence
– Weight and volume seems more important than the quality
– Processes for managing truth and fairness have not kept up with a rapidly evolving digital world.

So what do Agents do about this?

The response is going to be very challenging for a number of reasons. The first one is that by their very nature, online entities are better at ‘online’ than ‘people’ are. That is Webjet , Expedia etc. are the masters of there domain. They have big teams, are digitally optimised and are far-reaching.

Agents cannot take on these people at their own game. A person is not digitally optimised.

Travel Agents

As written about in previous articles and discussed in great detail at Travel Vision 2020, people can only win by changing the rules back to being about humanity. That is focus on your greatest asset, which is that you are a person.

In Australia we need a more empowered AFTA. Until Helloworld and Flight Centre, with representatives from Travel Managers, MTA and so on come to a press conference together to say they are uniting their voice against the OTA’s unfair advertising campaign, it is AFTA that the industry needs to rely on.

Two problems here. The first is these brands will not work together. Even if it was made abundantly clear that by working together they could ‘increase the size of the pie’ and be more profitable, it would simply never happen.

Secondly, Webjet consider themselves to be ‘Travel agents’. The ‘constitution’ of the travel industry hasn’t caught up with the differentiation between a people business and computer business. So should we protect people? How about hybrid businesses?

Travel Agents

But regardless, Agents must stop taking each other down. This whole anti-Flight Centre thing needs to stop. Get it out of your heads. Get into your heads you need to protect your jobs. Stop bickering..

And to contradict myself, you need to embrace the rules of this new media landscape and at least consider your standards and your stance. Truth is, people are only going to take you seriously, or even take you at all, if you sensationalise. But is that bending the truth too far? Does that really matter?

A process, methodology and plan for your marketing is incredibly important. If you write a story, those words need to go everywhere from your Facebook account to LinkedIn to Instagram AND the sign that you put out the front of your building.  Who knows, there could be room for prints, although I find that very hard to challenge.

Travel Agents

Whilst overseas I met with one of my SEO and online advertising providers to talk about new communication strategies. In a stunning admission, they told me that moved out of the field because frankly, it was hard to make money in and very hard to deliver results. If Google and Facebook keep changing their rules and algorithms it’s nearly impossible to consistently deliver results. Mix that with moderated fake news…the rules are changing macro and micro.

The elusive factor is a notion of authenticity. Truth is one thing but being authentic, being real and being true is hard to fake.

So it’s hard to tell Agents what to do but easier to tell them what not to do; and that is what you have been doing in the past is not going to work in the future.

You will still need words, you will still need photographs, you may need to keep printing things out, but you most certainly need to begin thinking about embracing new ideas, ideologies and methods to grow business.

What are your thoughts on the subject?