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5 ways to be useful to travellers in the digital age

It's an incredible feeling knowing you bring something unique to your clients. Here are my tips and tricks on becoming a utility and indispensable to travellers.

It’s an incredible feeling knowing you bring something unique to your clients. Here are my tips and tricks on becoming a utility and indispensable to travellers.

Over the last seven years the agent’s outlook to keeping a traveller has evolved from one of confidence to fear the Internet is stealing their customers.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the changing history:

  • 2008 – “We aren’t really that worried, they can have whatever brochure they want, they’ll be back”
  • 2012 – “If they come in asking for brochures, we tell them to piss off”
  • 2015 – “They have already done their research on bookings.com, Expedia and trip advisor and if we are lucky they come in and ask us if we can match a price…they don’t need a brochure”

The paradigm has shifted from “no worries” to “wow, my audience is now so well informed.

Feeling useless?

Wondering how to keep your relevance, and most importantly, your business, in a high-speed information era?

Read on

 

1. Don’t send them away

Agent

There are very few businesses that can get away with pushing customers out of the door.

You might feel like you are being efficient by pushing away tyre kickers but if someone has taken the time to call you or walk through your front, be prepared to…

 

2. Engage them

Don’t just giving them a handful of brochures, your business card and say “call us if you need us”.

Paper is dead.

Shake their hands when they walk in. Sit them down. Ask them about their day and build some rapport. Get them a glass of water (or a cup of tea because they will stay longer to drink it).

Once you have them comfortably settled, find out what it is they are after before getting their contact details and EMAIL something to them WITH YOUR LOGO ON IT.

Customise the experience and ask a couple of questions. Find out what else they do. Maybe they also play tennis, maybe their kids are in your child’s karate class or they do macramé with your husband. There might be a common connection there.

Slightly more work? Yes. Significantly better chance of getting business? Damn straight, baby.

 

3. Don’t just accept their recommendation

You don’t walk into a car dealership and tell them about the latest and best vehicles, because let’s face it, you are guaranteed to sound like a wanker.

You are the travel agent. You are the bloody expert. Make sure they know it when they sit in front of you.

If they say they want to go to Bali then ask them if they are really after a fantastic family holiday.

If they say they want to stay at this hotel they saw on Expedia ask them if it’s because they think it is in a great location. If they say yes then recommend some others – don’t forget, you know a tonne of great hotels in the same location that may be more to their taste.

If they want to fly with a super low cost carrier all around Asia, then be sure to recommend that they leave every other part of their itinerary pretty flexible, as well as their hips because they will need them to get their right knee behind their left ear.

 

4. Give it away, give it away, give it away now

travelagents_KarryOn

Of the many lessons over the seven years of roomsXML, giving something away for free, with no strings attached has a significantly better chance of generating more interest and ongoing engagement than saying something like:

“Sure you can have the sticky notepads but you better bloody book” or “you can only come to our industry night if you have booked”.

True altruism, especially fun altruism, which is hard to find, is a great indicator of great people.

 

5. Become the authority

Following these steps gives you an exceptionally good chance of meeting with lots of people, across a different range of travel topics, using a number of different styles of engagement and not only raising your profile that the quality of your profile. It’s going to make you better at your job.

Want to be the go-to person that people think about when it comes to travel? Then you need to be the authority.

Find a local soap box, whether it’s the school fete, the Rotary club or the tennis club and don’t sell to them, mount that soap box with pride and make it very clear that you know what you are talking about.

Finally, you can ignore all of this and tell them to go away. Eventually they will.

What are your tips for staying relevant in the digital age?