The travel industry recently celebrated Travel Advisor Day on May 1, a day to raise awareness among consumers, the media and lawmakers of the significant value provided by travel agents, who are responsible for crafting memorable journeys around the world. The day was marked by posting of social media stories, sending already-drafted letters to Congress about impactful business issues, and special offers from many travel companies to thank these valued partners.
But, after the day is over, what’s next?
While many strides have been made in effectively acknowledging travel agents for the important work they do, the need to promote agents’ worth is more compelling than ever before, especially in our OTA-heavy world and when the next industry disruptor could be around the corner. Yes, consumer use of agents to book travel has seen increases, but it’s crucial to keep those numbers on the rise. Go beyond a single day, and make publicizing and recognizing agent merit part of the everyday norm, whether you’re a supplier or the actual agent.
Appreciating Agents Throughout May
Recognizing the power of the agent-suppliers partnership, numerous travel companies are applauding travel agents beyond May 1 – going all month long – with special prize drawings, the chance to win bonus cash and commission, promotions for free flights and dream getaways, and much more. For example, Apple Leisure Group (ALG) – which includes Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, Blue Sky Tours, and United Vacations – is presenting a “You Book It, You Earn It” drawing with the chance to earn up to $2,500 commission on a May booking.
Some Self-Promotion Is A Good Thing
Agents shouldn’t be shy about promoting to their clients (and a wider audience of potential clients) their tremendous value. Try sending monthly or bi-monthly e-mails to your database with distinguishing “did you know” facts supporting why travel agents usage is on the rise.
- You are trusted advisors, like accountants and financial planners, who use their knowledge, experience and resources to curate memorable trips.
- You are responsible for a way consumers spend one of their most precious assets – time. You can make that time count by crafting indelible moments for friends and family to enjoy together.
- You skillfully weed through the clutter of overwhelming information on the internet and make travel recommendations based on a client’s specific interests and budgets.
- You are extremely adept at booking complicated multi-stop itineraries.
- You give clients an unparalleled level of comfort – a human voice will extensive contacts – who can find suitable resolutions if there’s a problem during a trip.
Reinforce your expertise and reiterate these crucial distinguishers in local newspaper ads, at sponsorship of local events, at planned travel nights to build business, and at the end of relevant, valuable blog posts. Make sure to have ready a verbal 30-second “elevator speech” touting agent capability and expertise.
Agent Education – A Must
Hoteliers should continue to make agent education about their products a priority – think online training modules, in-office visits, networking events, and property/destination site inspections, all aimed at making agents stronger, more knowledgeable and loyal partners. For example, as part of its Appreciation Celebration in May, ALG is giving agents the chance to attend a “Fiesta Fam” to Mexico and offering double entries to win for every Exclusive Nonstop Vacation Flight + AMResort reservation. It’s no surprise that agents are more likely to sell the products they know best as well as the ones with which they feel a true partnership.
Social Media Savvy
Leverage the power of social media like never before – it’s a non-stop cycle 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. Encourage clients to share their positive experience of working with an agent and to post vacation pictures on social media because a fabulous vacation picture is worth 1,000 words of praise. Video can be even more powerful.
Agents can bolster their own social media presence with YouTube hotel and destination videos, hotel and destination imagery, packing know-how tips, travel news, information on emerging places, and more. Don’t forget to post pictures and video of where you’ve been around the world. Travel agents know the incredible value they bring to curating customized experiences for their clients, and social media is an excellent platform for marketing agent capabilities in order to generate new and repeat business.
Travel agents are knowledgeable, creative and powerful resources who skillfully connect clients with all corners of the globe in special ways. A single day to celebrate the dreams they create for countless travelers is one way to recognize their efforts. Another is to keep the cycle of praise and promote what differentiates this trusted role in the industry all year long.