By Deepak Narula, Managing Director, GRNconnect.com
We need a bold new thinking and energy to bring back the true spirit of travel to travellers. This starts with a new generation of travel agents.
What is the secret recipe for a successful travel agency business?
Actually, there is no such thing as the secret recipe, however there are a few basic principles that if followed can transform your struggling travel business to a flourishing one.
First of all, a very strong ‘can do’ attitude and equally strong customer service and business excellence orientation can be your underlying success factors. In a dynamic industry as ours, it is imperative to have self-belief and a ‘can-do’ attitude and come up with new ideas to stay ahead of change. The hunger to achieve something should be in your DNA. With intense competition, opportunities remain as opportunities for a very short time, so we need to always keep our foot on the pedal.
I believe tourism entrepreneurship is all about storytelling and offering services which add value. While selling tourism to consumers in the post-COVID world, budding entrepreneurs should look at developing new products and methods of packaging them. As an industry that is so vital for the Indian and global economy, tourism needs a new narrative, and an ambitious and talented entrepreneur can help in building new stories.
Every challenge or adversity can bring with it an opportunity. If there is a silver lining in this crisis, it is that travel companies can think much more boldly and expansively about the future, and perhaps act on a once-in-a-generation idea.
There is a need to prepare tourism and hospitality for the ‘new normal’, and that’s where new entrepreneurs should focus—encouraging new business models, embracing digitalisation, and meeting the safety and health needs of travellers.
Treat your suppliers like you treat your customers, pay them on time. These suppliers will go all out to support you. Build a team of hard-core trust worth soldiers, burden them with responsibility.
A personal touch
Don’t just be another travel agent, differentiate yourself from the rest by giving your customers highly personalized services so that they get the special feel. Right from your first interaction with them whether it is on phone, over an email or in person just give that “you are special and exclusive feel”. More than that “be available” to your clients. Your connectivity with your clients is really important anytime and anywhere you are. Your response to new queries as well as to the queries of current clients should be prompt. Give your clients the confidence that their needs will be handled adequately and also be transparent to your client. Overall, this is a time for companies to adapt, and align themselves to new demands from customers, and provide a high level of service and personalized customer experience.
A client expects their travel agents to know all. It is not merely booking up a flight or doing reservations and simply flying out. It is so much more than that. Clients want to get information from you about anything and everything. They expect from you to offer them something different in a very common destination or maybe a very unique destination. To gear up with all this, a travel agent must conduct extensive research on different travel destinations.
A successful travel agent is one who has information on a variety of destinations that are unique to people.
That means that travel agents provide details of the places where clients want to go immediately to allow them to make informed travel decisions.
Be technologically equipped
Spend on technology; go slow but go steady. Technology is the basic tool that helps travel agents to become successful by managing everything efficiently. So, it is something that you being a travel agent should not overlook. With good travel-based software you can do so much of your work in just a click. For example: booking up flights, signing contracts, sending many requests together—all this and much more in just a click. Good software can also help you with your cost-effective planning by doing all the research for you and offering you things at best rates and offers. Some software can even offer you to analyse market demand and supplier pricing, hence allowing you to identify the best location, dates and suppliers for your next group tour or event.
Have online presence
Have a working website, keep it updated be it a white label solution or a website with its own booking engine, invest wisely on it. It can pay in the long run. Remember your website is your office online and your customer should get a good experience about it.
Have smart presence on social media
A social media presence on various platforms is highly recommended. Not merely the presence but also using it efficiently. Your clients can be your immediate fans and followers. You should not hesitate to ask them to leave a review on your page. Review section is really important because nowadays people straight away go and check it out before trying out any service. Have interactive posts so that your clients and fans feel the connection with you. Engage them with insights and tips. On your page be helpful for your clients/fans with your knowledge.
As per current market trends sitting behind the same boring office desk and telling your clients about life adventures or exotic places looks so boring and less appealing. It is 21st century and by being mobile you can do more in more spaces, why confine yourself to four walls? This flexibility in your style of work makes your life easier as a travel agent. You are not limited to any business hours; you can work with them at hours that suit both of you. If they can’t get to your office address because of any reason, you can get to meet them at any location that is easy in access to them. This willingness of flexibility is something that defines the future of successful travel agents.
To be a successful travel agent, you must not limit your thought process and function in a certain set robotic manner. To stay in the limelight and win the hearts of current as well as new clients, you have to think out of the box. The travel industry has changed tremendously over a very short period of time and it’s still accelerating at the same pace.
You should focus on your potential clients and what they are looking for.
For example, you will be surprised to see how much time your potential client is spending online searching and researching about a destination wedding forum or best gateway for a bachelorette party. Do a deep research into various avenues where potential clients can be found and see who you can serve best with your available options. Keep your clients up to date with latest developments and enhancements.
In conclusion, while there is no one specific recipe for success, and one cannot even guarantee success to someone who follows all of these mantras, this is a path you can follow that will make sure that you become the best travel agent you can be-which in turn will lead you to success.