Need global perspective on great travel agents? Look no further. Once or twice a year the roomsXML team gets together for a pow wow.
Once we get over discussing sport, politics, food, fashion and big fat Indian weddings, we drill down into comparisons of our day to day experiences.
Whilst there is always commonality, there is often many differences between the Australian market, the Ukraine market and the Indian market. So this article contains input from Prakash in India and Tetyana Ukraine.
This is an extract of our discussion on the making of good travel agents, processes, evolution and changing markets.
Prakash, roomsXML India says
“The process of re-engineering. The process of focusing. The process of thinking small.”
This is straight from a travel agency I consulted to.
Those who have reengineered themselves are doing pretty well. With the onslaught of OTA and shrinking margins it’s becoming difficult for brick & mortar travel agents to earn a fair share by merely depending on ticketing and hotel bookings.
I know a travel agent in my town who actually stopped doing what they were doing for years… sell airline tickets. Instead, they picked up a few destinations in a region and became a specialist of that area. They learned everything that had to be learnt – the dos and the don’ts… they were a talking brochure on that region. Now they advertise as ‘that destination specialist’ and have created packages that are attracting customers. Must be noted that their sales volume has dropped… but the profits are up!
Tetyana, roomsXMl (Vitiana) Ukraine says
In recent years a travel market structure had significantly changed due to a strong influence of online technologies. A new type of traveler appears as well as his new demands.
CIS (The Commonwealth of Independent States) travel market is slightly behind the global trend of transitioning all travel services into online mode. In this case it might be a benefit for travel companies in Ukrainian, Kazakhstan and other CIS markets, because they have time to reorganize their operations for the new terms.
Some travel companies understand that.
“This is why they create a niche product which will help them to stand out among other travel agents and gain a reputation of an expert in a certain field, like specific travel region or kind of traveling.”
Tetyana, roomsXMl (Vitiana) Ukraine
They also understand that in spite of their experience in industry they need to invest in self-education to be aware of trends and new technologies. And the last but not least, a secret of company’s success in travel market is to rearrange all business processes, like financial accounting, human resource management, client service, etc.
Simple things, but they do work!
Input from myself, roomsXML Australia
Agents need to know what’s in the news and have an opinion on it. It might be a new destination, special prices by a competitor or alternately something in the news like the Bali ash cloud. Its part of a marketing and comm’s process as well as being an icebreaker. These talking points are a great chance for the agent to engage with a customer and at the same time demonstrate their knowledge and expertise.
The good agents also have their supplier relationship and processes well formed. In particular, in working through customer service queries and issues, they know who, when and how to deal with an issue to get a resolution that works for them.
“Happy customers can only come from competent suppliers that are well integrated into the business.”
Mark, roomsXML Australia
What do you think makes a great travel agent?
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