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Staying relevant in a challenging travel industry

Homogenisation and standardisation means more than ever before, it’s important to stay relevant and stand out from the crowd and I'm here to tell you how.

Homogenisation and standardisation means more than ever before, it’s important to stay relevant and stand out from the crowd and I’m here to tell you how.

My backdrop is a picturesque skyline of Singapore during a roomsXML partners meeting. Each gathering starts off with fascinating global insight of the industry.

A common theme is the need to be relevant; in this context relevant it means viable, valuable, providing a good product and service and still being a name or brand that people relate with travel. It’s applicable to wholesale and retail.

There are some essential ingredients for travel agents to stay relevant:


Maintain the passion for learning

Whether it’s organisationally or individually, you can never stop wanting to learn. You must have that hunger to acquire knowledge and experience. It needs to become part of your professional lifestyle. Put time aside to learn, research and investigate.

My best learning this week? The pizza industry in the USA. Just astounding. TOTALLY relevant to travel.


Understanding the dynamics of an industry

With online communications becoming affordable, mainstream and an expectation, travel has changed enormously. Digital systems have allowed for centralisation and aggregation.

Bigger players like Expedia own scary amounts of the travel pie. The way people spend money and are stimulated to travel is continually evolving. It’s essential to have an up-to-date view on how the travel industry works and what stimulates a desire to travel.


Continue to evolve your understanding of your clients

If we meet with the travel agent who says “Oh no, everything is fine, no worries” it feels great at the time, but we learn nothing. Only through meaningful engagement beyond just sales can we actually learn what and how our customers want. Like our industry desires of our customers are changing continually.


Know your enemy (competitors)

Most agents can think of your natural competitors – other bricks and mortar travel agencies.

But have you assessed, quantified and tried to deeply understand these competitors:

  • Expedia – they are your supplier and your competitor in a B2C sense and as they now own Orbitz who supplies to helloworld, they are also a major competitor to red-and-white stores, who they are also a supplier to.
  • Sharing economy – is Airbnb taking away from your business?
  • Other direct sales.

Do you have a strategy?


Look micro and step back for the helicopter view

Recently we’ve undergone structural changes which has given me more time to take a higher level view and engage with some more strategic considerations. It’s astounding that I’m learning different aspects about my own company, staff and the way we do business. So as my role has changed and evolved, I need to change and evolve my goals but also my local workplace as well as interactions with our offshore partners.

How about you – do you know the reasons for the things you do?


The risk of becoming irrelevant

In today’s language it’s another way of saying you no longer cut it. Death comes at a faster rate to companies these days as electronic communications improves transparency and social media speeds up the rate of communication.

Stand in the middle-of-the-road and you won’t get run over but the road may no longer be there.

What are your tips for staying relevant in the travel industry?