You're in this business because you simply love travel, and it's time to let your passion reflect in your profits. Increasing travel agent sales is about more than simply boosting traffic to your website and getting more eyeballs on your ads. The travel and leisure industry is fiercely competitive, with the likes of Expedia and Booking.com dominating a lot of the digital foot traffic, which means smaller travel agents need to get really good at closing opportunities.
Let’s take a look at four ways your travel agency can delight customers and supercharge your bookings.
Find your niche in the travel industry
There’s one customer question you need to answer above all else:
Why should they come to you for their holiday booking?
If you’re offering the same destinations and a similar service to everyone else, but with less brand recognition, you’re going to struggle to stand out from the crowd.
Choosing a specific travel niche and perfecting your offering in that area gives you the opportunity to capture a significant market segment that the large, generalist agencies can’t cater to as successfully. For example, why would someone go to TUI for their safari trip when they can go to an experienced travel professional that specialises in safaris?
It’s not just types of holiday you can choose to niche in: destination, demographics, budget levels (luxury versus low cost), and even flight options are all viable niche markets.
Maximise repeat sales through personalisation
It’s much easier for travel agencies to sell to previous customers than to gain and convert new leads for the first time. After all, they know what to expect from your services and, hopefully, had a positive experience.
The key to maximising repeat sales is personalisation and an in-depth understanding of the customer. Where did they travel to before? What time of year did they book? How much did they spend? What excursions and activities did they book?
All of this knowledge allows you to create tailored marketing messaging that is far more likely to convert than generic mass mailing. If you know that Mr and Mrs Smith booked an over-60s Caribbean cruise for two weeks in May last year, you could send them a special offer for an over-60s Mediterranean cruise next year. This might include information on activities you think they’d be interested in based on their last trip.
To achieve this, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) system that’s going to store all of this information in one place.
Ask open-ended questions
One of the biggest advantages you have over large online travel agents (OTAs) is that you can deliver a personalised service that leverages your knowledge and experience to build a truly memorable holiday for the customer.
Of course, to do that, you need to get to know them.
Asking open-ended questions during your customer consultations is key to this. They force the customer to provide longer, more detailed answers that give a clearer idea of what they’re looking for. In comparison, closed questions only elicit short answers that are often yes/no responses.
Examples of open questions include:
- What do you think makes a great holiday?
- What do you want to get out of your next trip?
- Tell me about the best holiday you’ve had in the last five years.
Examples of closed questions include:
- Do you like spending time on the beach?
- Did you enjoy your last trip?
- Have you ever been on a cruise?
Sell more than a package
Once you’ve gotten to know the customer, you need to use this information to sell them more than a package.
Holidays are experiences, not products, and the most successful travel agents build those experiences around what the customer wants. Rigid package options that don’t take into account what the customer actually enjoys doing will severely harm your travel agent sales conversion rate and customer retention rate.
To compete successfully in a saturated market, your travel agency has to do two things: differentiate your offering and excel at service.
The Travel Agent Guide To Gaining New Clients offers some great insight into how you can understand your clients and ensure that you offer what they want, not what you think they want. Download your free copy and start growing your travel agency business today.