Many people mistakenly believe that the travel agent is dead. This decline in the necessity of the travel agent is a result of airlines cutting commissions and the advent of the mass market Internet travel agency, where nearly anyone can easily book their own trip online. However, the old-style travel agents are making a comeback today. This is because of the growing desire to deal with actual humans. Only a human can truly provide personalized quality service that online companies often fail to deliver. The only thing a travel agent really needs to possess today is the ability to market him or herself effectively.
Today’s travel agency needs to develop an effective and workable marketing plan. This entails knowing what your strengths are. Decide what your goals are for the year, figure out a plan to meet those core objectives and set out to accomplish them. Use a combination of email marketing strategies, traditional print and social media to get your message across to a global audience.
“As you decide your specific niche in travel, do not limit yourself to a specific location,” said Jeff Bernett of The Travel Academy, a flight attendant training school. “Many travel agencies today are based at home. Your clients do not care if you are located next door or several countries away. They only care that you can deliver a quality travel service at a reasonable price. Many customers today are even willing to pay premium in order to secure quality service. Do not be afraid to market yourself in all locations on the Internet. You might find that you have more clients out of your physical region and than within.”
It is crucial that you make yourself available. Today’s travel agent should not attempt to get by using a “9 to 5” mentality. Get active on social media. Monitor your postings, update your Twitter feed and let your clients know that you are available 24/7 while they are traveling. This will set you apart from the mass-market travel agencies that are often hard to contact.
Utilize referrals as much as possible. Encourage clients to tell their friends about you. Actively engage in page sharing campaigns on social media. The more you get your name in front of the public, the more likely they are to call you when their desire to travel hits.
Finally, be creative. You are in a very competitive business. Aim to do something a different with your business to be noticed. Host travel nights at a local wine bar and combine it with wine tasting. Advertise your brand at local high school sporting events or offer a small package at a local charity auction. Dare to be different and dare to get involved. The more noticeable you are, the more effective you will be at selling travel.