As we start a new year, Abra dunsby collects expert advice on everything from increasing sales to more sustainable operations to help agents get started in 2022
Travel agents have so much to do these days, from reassuring customers during the pandemic to ensuring they are offering sustainable and responsible travel to meet growing customer interests.
Not to mention standing out from the competition when it comes to earning sales, marketing vacations, and recruiting the best candidates for positions.
To help agents tackle these challenges, we’ve spoken to a range of experts in different fields to ask for their best advice on making 2022 as successful as possible.
BE PROACTIVE ON SUSTAINABILITY
Clare Jenkinson, Head of Sustainability, Abta
Find out how you can reduce carbon emissions in your business operations. Consider the steps you can take to reduce energy consumption in your store or premises: better insulation, turn off appliances, use energy-efficient light bulbs, and more. These actions, along with measures like reducing single-use plastics and printing, are making a difference. The same thinking applies if you have staff working from home or if you are a work from home business.
Also look at what your suppliers are doing – more and more are publishing their sustainability strategies. When organizing accommodation, think about those with a sustainability certification program, like Travelife.
Customers may start asking questions about theft and climate change, so be aware of what the industry at large is doing about these issues. Abta’s Tourism for Good report contains a lot of information and examples of how the industry is working to reduce emissions.
Tim Williamson, Client Director, Responsible Travel
Responsible travel is a priority for your customers, so make it yours and do the legwork for them. Audit your suppliers and your trips: what is being done to reduce carbon emissions while supporting nature and local communities? Do the tours employ local people? is the accommodation owned by locals; does the travel benefit local conservation projects and protect wildlife?
Source of products from responsible operators – we launched our own travel agent section last year. Also, cut the “greenwash”. Confidence in travel is crucial and fragile, so be honest and transparent.
A convenient way to set yourself apart is to provide evidence of how each trip meets Responsible Tourism criteria on every vacation page, so it’s easy to find. Ask every verified traveler for honest feedback: Did they feel their vacation benefited local communities and the environment? Take it one step further – by publishing it.
FIND THE BEST TALENT FOR NEW ROLES
Barbara Kolosinska, Director, C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment
When trying to attract candidates, it’s not just about paying them more, even if offering a minimum wage is no longer acceptable. Yes, the candidates want the money, but they work in travel because they love the industry. They want to work for a travel agency with integrity, which is fun to work for and which offers mentors to learn.
Make sure your employer brand is featured on social media and LinkedIn, and that the company has an identity. If someone is looking to work for a travel agency, you want them to see your branding and your posts, and think, “Wow, I like what they do, their values ââand their personality.”
Make sure your employer brand values ââare obvious and important, and that you detail what you are offering in terms of bonuses, commissions, and familiarization trips.
Well-being at work and sustainability are now very important, especially for young applicants. Moreover, nowadays it is almost taken for granted that hybrid and flexible working should be offered, wherever possible. Travel agents can’t always do this because they are working in a face-to-face environment, but there are solutions, such as appointment systems or Zoom meetings.
USE NDC WHEN BOOKING CUSTOMER FLIGHTS
Angel Gallego, Executive Vice President of Travel Distribution, Amadeus
For years, the industry has talked about transforming the travel retail business to focus more on the needs of travelers and streamline processes, with NDC as a key enabler. Now the time has come.
Covid-19 has reinforced the need for personalization and better customer service, two key elements in restoring the confidence of travelers. Much like Amazon, Spotify, and Netflix deliver content tailored to user preferences, NDC has the potential to personalize offers and ensure more dynamic retailing to the benefit of airlines, travel vendors, and travelers. .
With NDC, travel sellers can provide access to content that is more relevant to their customers, such as dynamic and additional fares, new bundles, more accessories like additional meal plans or access to relevant messages from customers. airlines in local languages.
PRIORITIZE MARKETING TO DRIVE SALES
Kate Holroyd, Owner, Strawberry Holidays
I tucked away in December 2020 and have enjoyed my best sellers since. As a Disney fairy godmother or cruising novice, my messages are clear. It’s easy to select offers and content to post because they’re always targeted. There are more independent door-to-door agents than ever before, and my niche sets me apart from the rest.
Claim your Google my Business page – it’s completely free. It might sound horrible, but as more street agencies close, it is possible to be the first to find leads in your area.
Strawberry Holidays is currently the only agency in Darwen, Lancashire. I regularly receive leads from Google because people search for âtravel agent near meâ.
Over 50% of prospects will see your reviews, or might even contact you directly as a referral. Reward referrers – a little thank you can go a long way. Sign up for the Trustpilot free review platform and invite customers to leave a review. It feeds into your Google ratings which also affects where you appear in local search results.
Finally, think about the sales process; it still needs a marketing eye. Booking appointments can be a straightforward process with Calendly, quote submissions can be awesome using Canva.com (both free). Some suppliers will even provide quotes in your branding. Look for ways to be consistent with your appearance throughout the sales process.
KEEP UP TO DATE WITH LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
Luke Golding, Senior Managing Partner, Deloitte Legal
Over the past 19 months, the travel industry has come under intense scrutiny from regulators, with the impact of the pandemic compounded by the legal obligations imposed on travel agencies by the Regulations on Travel Agencies. package travel and consumer law. This resulted in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) taking action against a number of travel companies and also sending open letters to the industry with the aim of ensuring compliance with the consumer law.
This heightened level of attention is a trend likely to continue into 2022. At the same time, the government is currently consulting on a proposal to grant increased enforcement powers to regulators such as the CMA (and possibly to larger bodies, such as the Civil Aviation Authority).
At present, if the CMA considers that a company is acting in violation of consumer law, it is not in a position to sanction that company. Rather, he has to take the case to court and seek either an enforcement order or prosecution against the offending company, which can take years.
The government’s proposed new approach would give the AMC the power to make its own decision as to whether a company has acted in violation of consumer law and allow it to take action, such as ordering the company to put a stop to it. end of the infringement, order it to compensate the victims and, if necessary, condemn the company to a financial penalty.
To avoid running into any issues at the end of the day, it will be important for travel companies to ensure that they are absolutely clear about their legal obligations (both from a travel-specific perspective, such as compliance with Atol and the regulations on package travel, and with regard to consumer law) and that they act in accordance with the same.
This year, therefore, it would be a good idea for companies to conduct a review of their compliance with consumer law, focusing on their operating models, sales processes and consumer contracts, to ensure that no nasty surprises await them throughout the year.
THE ROUTE OF HAPPINESS
Jim Eastwood, Global Sales Manager, Travel Counselors, Explains How The 4 Ps Can Help Agents Hone Their Selling Skills
To be present: provide personalized service and use technology to ensure [can connect with] clients. People need expert travel advice now more than ever, throughout the customer journey.
Be proactive: staying well informed allows you to reassure and keep customers up to date with travel requirements.
Be positive: the pandemic is the most difficult time the industry has ever seen, but there is something to be positive about, with many customers planning until 2022 and 2023.
Be ready : although there will be some obstacles along the way, the trips will bounce back, so make sure you are prepared for the resurgence.