One of the biggest problems I see facing travel agents is that they don’t recognize their own value!!!
Somehow travel agents have it in their heads that they have to compete with the internet in order to make a sale. This means that they believe that their clients only care about price and because of that they tailor itineraries to meet that challenge.
Let me ask you this, Do ALL of YOUR clients state that price is most important thing they are concerned with? No. Half? Twenty-five percent? I didn’t think so.
If ANY of your clients say to you, “I want the cheapest option out there or I won’t make the booking with you.” then you should consider dropping them because those clients are NOT the ones you WANT. Those clients should NOT have your phone number, let alone your personal CELL number.
Consider the following and drop me a note if this rings true to you.
Think about who your IDEAL clients are and what they want? Aren’t they travelers who value experiences, cultures and feelings and just like you and I, don’t they cherish real and honest relationships?
So why do travel agents keep focusing on things that are cookie-cutter, or packaged together just like the Amazon box on your front door? If your ideal clients were looking for a travel agent to provide them with something to compare to an online reseller, they would have probably already bought online. No, your clients are looking for the emotional connection that they cannot find on their own and will NEVER get from the large cookie-cutter company that sells everything under one umbrella.
Those operators are focused on targets. Everything is a number, a head-count that gets them closer to their goals so they can get better deals at the end of the year. Deals, that you can be sure, they will not pass on to you.
Small, boutique tour operators like us, need to make the numbers work too but not in quite the same way. We are mostly “lifestyle” operators, doing what we love and getting paid for it. We have many factors in mind but ALWAYS the individual’s experience is on top of the list!
Fading into the background by placing yourself in direct competition with those larger online engines is not serving you, and it’s not serving your guests! The clients that are interested in your services want your experiences and what you have. They want what they can’t and won’t ever get online…the added value that ONLY YOU can provide.
These clients want YOU and your life-enhancing perspectives. They want the experience that you provide through the relationships you have built over the years. They want your knowledge and the judgment you gained from both the good and bad experiences you might have had.
This is why you are so vital in this “human” business of travel! Search engines and travel factories can NEVER match the personal connection that you make with every phone call, email and communication that you exchange with your clients. Engines don’t make connections, YOU DO!
You need to RECOGNIZE the value that you provide, own it, and then lead with it! And EVERY time you feel threatened by price you need to re-assert your true value instead of your prices. Once you realize your own worth and conduct your business with the knowledge that NO search engine or itinerary factory IS EVEN CAPABLE of providing this value to your clients then you will find that you are working from a position of advantage rather than the disadvantaged price/volume razor thin margin tightrope that you have been walking in the past.
Take a few minutes to ponder this because next week I will talk about how this change in your own perspective DOES NOT mean that you will be working harder…Stay tuned!