With the competition for cruise bookings at an all-time high, travel agencies have to find ways to stand out and grow. So, how can travel agents find new ways to engage their customers, improve efficiency, and increase profits? As a travel industry veteran, I have seen the following ways help fellow travel professionals, as well as, Cruise Travel Outlet, succeed in the industry during the past 25 years and become one of the top producing agencies in North America.
Engage with your subscribers
We live in a digital world and it’s important to engage with your subscribers online. For travel agents who work from home, maintaining a strong digital presence is even more important. Not everyone has the budget to advertise travel media sites or make sure you’re building your own advertising platform. Start your own Facebook group and/or join other groups to make sure customers hear from you. Define your travel niche and start a blog on it. Writing guest posts for travel industry blogs can also be good exposure for your agency. Even with limited resources, you can make a big impact by just getting the word out regularly. Subscribers like to read not only what the best deal is, but what specialty dining options are available on specific ships or where the best quiet spots onboard are located.
Go ahead…play with them!
As travel professionals, a personal touch can really help us stand out from our online competitors. While they focus on daily deals, we focus our attention to the details – putting “FUN” back into, well, planning a vacation! Our clients want to feel special, like they know us. For this reason, actually going on a sailing with them or planning a cruise night can help to build business. Plan a sailing that you and your staff members will attend or reserve a room at a local winery to host a sales and information night. When a client calls looking for a fun sailing but is flexible on date and location, suggest that they join you on vacation! Or if they ask how to find out more about what your agency has to offer, invite them to your next cruise night. Being in front of your clients, whether on board or on land, will help build loyalty and establish a strong word-of-mouth reputation. In this business – you must love referrals!
Prepare your agents
In order to grow, everyone has to be on board and empowered to do their job – well. The agency owner, office manager, customer service team and agents have to understand your business will grow. Therefore, offer them the ability to grow with you. Offer additional training opportunities to ensure they fully understand your policies and procedures. In addition, ask the cruise line representatives to host a training session to update everyone on major events, dry-docks and brand evolution. The agents are the front line – so give them the tools they need to succeed. Offer incentives, no matter the size. Every team member likes a little motivation to earn more. We offer an incentive program based on the number of bookings they earn over a period of time. This ensures they are booking and earning money and have the opportunity to go on a trip. There’s nothing worse than a travel agent who doesn’t actually TRAVEL!
Each business is unique within their own industry. But one aspect remains universal: take care of your clients and they will take care of you. Trust your gut, learn as much as you can, continue to grow and never stop asking questions. Explore what the world has to offer, and become a well-rounded agency that can offer unique reflections on many destinations. Remember, travel wow-makers who understand their business and their client can lead to increased loyalty and more rewards – for them and your agency.
How does your agency differentiate today?`