This is a great time to be a travel advisor. No, it hasn’t been an easy time lately to sell leisure travel. And I have shared your pain through refunds, closed countries, confusing regulations, and lost revenue. As a supplier who does not sell directly to the public, we are completely dependent on the success of retail travel agents. Your market conditions are our market conditions. Still, this is a great time to be in the travel business and I believe that opportunities abound to gain new customers and to make higher profits. Travel is in a re-launch stage and there is tremendous pent-up demand. Yes, you can drive profits up when the economy is down. The travel industry has done it before.
Why uncertainty makes travelers more reliant on advisors
The travel industry has taken some incredible hits during the last 20 years from 9/11, SARS, commission cuts, fuel surcharges and a global pandemic. But professional travel advisors who survived all of this have become more knowledgeable and capable than ever. And, anyone that is new to the travel business can take advantage of the fluid market and establish relationships quickly. The confusing landscape of international travel has served to strengthen consumer awareness of what a professional travel advisor really offers. This in turn has fueled the consumer’s desire to connect with a qualified professional who will bring expertise to their travel planning.
“Travelers understand that one botched detail on an international itinerary can ruin the entire event. They need a knowledgeable professional to guide them through the process and ensure that the trip goes well.”
This is good news for you: Your customers are coming back and bringing their friends. Yes, consumers can book international air online – they’ve got a multitude of websites to choose from. But, people are overwhelmed with choices and information, too much for the average person to navigate. Travelers understand that one botched detail on an international itinerary can ruin the entire event. They need a knowledgeable professional to guide them through the process and ensure that the trip goes well. This is the personal touch that OTA’s cannot provide.
➡️ Related: Why The Future of Travel Is Travel Agents
You are WORTH the fee
ASTA says that the average service fee charged by travel advisors per airline ticket is $36.
When I saw that I began to wonder, “What do Centrav’s travel advisors make when they sell our private airfares?”
After a little number crunching I had it: $56 per ticket. A higher markup is possible because consolidator private fares are not offered directly to the consumer and therefore allow significant markup potential, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars per ticket. I would encourage travel advisors to take advantage of this opportunity for higher profits by partnering with a consolidator that you trust.
Yes, there is money to be made in selling travel. However, instead of focusing on the revenue potential, I encourage you to focus on the opportunity for service. Remember customer service? It is what truly differentiates a travel agent from the myriad of OTA’s who are vying for your customer’s valuable disposable income.
➡️ Related: How to Make Money Selling Airfare
Your core values directly drive your customers’ experience
Do you have core values written down for your company? If not, this is an essential step towards building your brand. You might find it helpful to adopt some or all of the core values that Centrav has written on the walls of our Contact Center:
Treat customers in a personal way as human beings.
Take time to fully hear what customers are saying.
Take the high road
Have integrity, honor your word even if it’s not profitable.
Gratefully invest your time, talents, and resources into something bigger than yourself.
Find bold ways to innovate and solve problems.
Never stop growing personally.
Let good judgment prevail
Let wise counsel, not personal agendas guide decisions.
Make it better
Take initiative to try to improve everything you are involved with.
Customer service is not rocket science, but when these simple concepts are applied diligently they are very powerful. I encourage you to focus on serving people. I think that a desire to serve is what brought most of us into the travel business to begin with. Serving people will put the fun back into your job and satisfy your customers. Higher profits will naturally follow satisfied customers.