The pandemic affected the way of travel. This is why a travel agent is your best ally to get advice and avoid unnecessary costs for your next trip.
The recent SARS-COV2 pandemic has completely changed our lifestyle today; facemasks, frequent hand washing, and social distancing have become an everyday occurrence, and man continues to adapt to these challenges. Economic sectors have adapted to what is known as the new normal.
One of the sectors that have been renewed and are looking for new alternatives to remain in force is the tourism sector, which is showing signs of change, adapting to the necessary measures for a renewed upturn in travel. According to Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, more than 193 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were registered in 87 countries, which is equivalent to more than 6 million doses per day around the world, adding the lack of certified approval in the missing vaccine tests, it is expected that the supply will increase by the spring of this year and with this, the longed-for end of the pandemic will be in sight.
This projection promises to be encouraging for everyone, especially for tourism, one of the sectors most affected by the coronavirus crisis. A Booking.com survey indicates that more than 50% of respondents under the age of 35 plan to travel soon, changing the perspective of travel from a recreational context to a health necessity, due to intermittent confinement, the lifting of quarantine and additional savings for tourists, travel is seen as a reward for all the time spent in confinement. Therefore, travel advisors should be prepared with all the necessary measures for the next upturn, or even some experts refer to other “Tourist Boom.”
The following are 6 steps for the competitive preparation of advisors given the expected growth in the coming years:
1. Pricing based on differentiation strategies.
The travel industry is damaged, and some companies may have already closed their operations permanently. The few remaining consultants will have to compete among themselves to corner the market. There is a lot to recover and compensate after almost 2 years of down numbers. As a result, price competition will be one of the main strategies to win the client where differentiation will be the key.
It is necessary to set new long-term objectives, establishing concrete goals to be met little by little, based on the sector’s needs and demands, listening to the smallest detail required by the customer. Understanding and focusing on market niches will be the key to be profitable and competitive in the market without falling into a price war and avoiding low margins at all costs.
2. Is fee-based charging feasible?
How will you do it? Especially for those customers who have been loyal to your brand for a long time? To answer these questions, you must think about the type of products and services you are selling. Most importantly, you need to rethink the structure of the company. Possibly not many consultants adopt fees, but fees are not equivalent for all. Are you a travel consultant? What type? Are you a DMC? If you are a DMC, the concept allows you to organize cost and commission structures, which produces a change from what we were used to before.
Perhaps it is about changing the value to our work, starting by recognizing the effort and performance that has been achieved over time and, although every company has its life cycle, let’s be honest at some point all companies will go through a decline, the main challenge for a Travel agent is to keep your company in a stage of maturity, consolidating in the market and choosing the challenges to be faced, being more confident in the quality of their services. Existing customers value your work, making it easier to set a rate to the consumer existing than to a prospective customer. Will we be able not to restructure our rate structure? I do not think so!
3. Terms and Conditions
Being one of the most complicated parts, structuring the terms and conditions is imperative. How often do you outsource, how often do you require third parties, all these firsts will involve adding all the components that need to be included in the list of terms and conditions, ensuring that the information is clear and timely for all clients, and ensuring the integrity of the travel agent.
4. Marketing, a fundamental part of the budget.
While the idea is to have an expert in the subject, this will involve an additional cost to the budget. Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege to afford it in difficult times. It is inevitable to take drastic measures this alluding to the capacity for innovation that the travel agent must show to market their services or tourism products. You can use free and economical digital platforms such as Canva, Studio, Designer, among others. These tools will boost your marketing campaign by establishing different digital distribution channels either by internet or social networks to promote and position your brand as one of the best for the upturn in travel.
The Travel agent must be bold and creative in seeking new ways to interact with the customer to re-establish that interrelationship with the customer through a professional bond, even better than before the pandemic.
5. Preparation is synonymous of Safety
Consequently, after the pandemic, a large part of the population will show more interest in sanitation, hygiene, and quality criteria majority of tourists will opt for services that guarantee adequate sanitary measures for their comfort and peace of mind.
Therefore, the agent must train and guide all its staff towards a culture of health and hygiene, transmitting confidence in the service and transparency in all the processes carried out, reflecting a clear image-oriented towards sanitation and concern for the welfare, health, and safety of tourists. This criterion will be crucial for the client to want to buy a service in your company or choosing another Travel agent to satisfy that need.
6. The more significant the demand, the greater the workload
Progress of vaccination programs around the world is undeniable: the increase in demand for travel services, factors such as the success of the marketing campaign, and the expected reach in the market influence the agent to have a higher workload and therefore has to be committed to the reservations.
It presents a challenge for the travel agent, as he/she will have to be discerning and selective towards customers, assessing which customer is most likely to have brand loyalty to start working with them. The decision is made when qualification questions or criteria describing the compatibility of the customer and the company. Brand loyalty is essential to building a customer base suitable for agent growth.