Travel Agents. Yes, We Are Still Out There
“Why use a Travel Agent? Are Travel Agencies still in business? I heard these questions repeatedly at the Laguna Niguel Community Business Fair we attended this past weekend. After organizing my handouts and creating an attractive Trading Places display booth, my expectations changed quickly. I had hoped to discuss the attractions on the new mega ships, the inclusive smaller ships and all of the great tours we offer. After the first few minutes, it was clear that the strolling consumers were more interested in why they should even stop at our booth. After all, they book their own airline tickets and hotels. They wanted to know what a travel agency could do for them.
My answers to their questions, included the expertise our certified counselors have through their own travel experiences and classes they have completed. We also discussed cruise groups with the coordination of all of the cruisers, the scheduling of various events, dinners, and shore excursions for the families and friends. Selecting the right ship for the first time cruiser is also a great use of an agent’s knowledge from across the industry. Destination weddings and honeymoons are an area where the bride and groom need assistance from someone with experience, especially in understanding the budget. The very popular guided tours that save so much time for the traveler, may also prompt planning questions, where an agent’s experience can be a definite plus. With an investment in their travel, who do consumers ask about travel insurance? Us.
Due to our sales volume, we have many special cruise departures offering amenities that even the cruise lines cannot directly match. When the consumer contacts us, they are starting a relationship with the counselor…speaking to the same person with all of their questions, not just ‘whoever answers the phone’. We get to know the customer. We follow up with a welcome home call or email to discuss the trip and get feedback. We want to know that everything went as planned. We communicate with them throughout the process and they are not just a number to us.
We packed up our booth after 4 hours of great conversations with new potential customers who wanted to be on our email list for specials and now understand the benefits of having someone on their side when investing in and planning that “trip of a lifetime”.