She walked slowly around the stage like she owned it, audience in the palm of her hand, carefully timing the pause and delivery of her key lines. They built towards the core of her presentation.
“Why do we do what we do?”
A question that can be interpreted and answered in so many ways. Why the travel industry? Why do we do our job? Why do we like it? Why do we choose to do it the way we do it? Why do people travel?
The scope of answers encapsulates everything from “to pay the bills” through to “because it gives me freedom to work the way I want and see the world.”
In an era of high automation and thin margins, so much seems to be driven by price. But when does anyone ever talk about anything in travel and the saving as a primary driver? The industry at times becomes driven by price which in turn sacrifices understanding why people travel.
Consistent across all areas of travel is the importance of satisfaction, a perception of value for money resulting in a pleasurable travel experience.
Business travel is relatively straightforward. Typically stock standard, cookie-cutter, easy to book, reliable end to end as few clicks as possible with visible itineraries.
Amadeus have beautifully defined the six travel tribes and then start to blur the lines with concepts of “Bleisure” travel – a little bit of pleasure tapped on the end of a business trip. But why people leisure travel requires a whole lot more understanding and in turn, execution of the right product into the itinerary.
At a practical level it’s finding them not only the right product, but product that is oriented towards answering their “why”. If the “why” is romantic getaway, there is a higher probability for luxury upgrades. The hotels are probably not going to have a great kids club but are likely to have spa facilities. An area that facilitates a stroll to markets and bakeries could be ideal.
If “why” equals “family holiday”, the equation changes dramatically. To break up the trip on the low-cost carrier could be two nights as a stopover in Asia before continuing on to the final destination, which will need a kids club and some larger rooms. Breakfast buffet are ideal, as is proximity to public transport or rental vehicles.
Finding those specific products that are oriented towards answering the why is therefore the key. The information exists, but it can take some time to cross-reference and bring together. The answers are in social media, the ratings and reviews sites and stock standard advertising.
But this formula should never be used as an excuse for churning out cookie-cutter holidays. Cookie-cutter holidays are the domain of pre-packaged websites and really, anyone with a fat enough credit card and enough trust can do that themselves.
The final “why” of the travel industry is experience and memories. That’s never cookie-cutter. Why also means joy, excitement, a bit of unknown, meaningful experiences and engagement. Part of the how to this why is an expert putting it together for you.
For so many of you reading this article, that’s what you are good at, that’s why you’re a Travel Agent.
What are your thoughts?
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