If you want validation of what you do, check out our exclusive research on pages 38 through 48. Luxury Travel Advisor sponsored MMGY Global’s 2014 Portrait of the Affluent Traveler survey. While the entire study is available for purchase, MMGY Global sliced and diced it for us to show the responses from those affluent travelers who intend to use a travel advisor in the next two year vs. those who do not plan to use one. The majority of those who intend to use one have used one in the past, meaning, they already know your value. Check out the “Travel Memories” chart on page 48 to see how you’ve enriched their lives.
Those who do intend to use an advisor have a much higher quality of life; their favorable vacation memories make the entire trip worth it. Most say that taking a vacation is the event they most look forward to each year.
See how those numbers differ from those who don’t plan to use an advisor and who likely didn’t use one in the past? Their memories aren’t of the same quality and they don’t even look forward to their vacations as much each year. Those who don’t plan to use a travel advisor could be much happier, if they’d only get with the program.
So what’s holding them back? I’m still stuck on the fact that many people just don’t know how to find a good advisor and that they want to do their trip planning themselves. I see people all the time seeking advice on Facebook from friends and strangers on where to go and what to do when they get there. Crowdsourcing can be fun, but not if you’re gambling away your annual vacation and thousands of dollars.
There are some good takeaways for you in this chart. Those who intend to use a travel advisor are much more likely to use social media to record their travel experiences. Have you made it easy for your clients to tag your Facebook page when they’re posting images from their trip? Give them an incentive to “like” your agency’s page and if it seems like a natural thing to do, become their friend on Facebook so you can join the conversation (without being a stalker) when they’re posting those dreamy trip photos. It’s a careful balance of not blatantly promoting yourself on their page but letting people know you exist. You’ll need to be diplomatic in how you do this, but if you’re a travel advisor, you’ve been practicing diplomacy your entire career. Besides, a good percentage say they post vacation photos to make their friends jealous—let them brag about your services while they’re at it.
Another takeaway: Affluent travelers who intend to use an advisor “prefer advertising that makes them conscious that they will have lasting memories from their trip.” If your website and e-mail marketing programs aren’t doing this, rethink your strategy. Is your website filled with logos of the suppliers you use? Or does it have welcoming imagery that will put clients “in the moment” when they find you online? It’s a simple thing to fix.
It’s time to dig in. Enjoy the study and all of its findings.