Keys to Success: Tech, Touch & Niche

At the recent PATA International Conference in New Delhi, I gave an address about the state of the travel agency industry. I said that times are tough for most agents, but some still make a decent living. Who are they and how do they do it? It’s not rocket science. They believe in, and practice, the principles of high-tech and high-touch, and you can, too. How many of these good business techniques do you use?

By: Sue Shapiro, Shapiro Travel Resources

At the recent PATA International Conference in New Delhi, I gave an address about the state of the travel agency industry. I said that times are tough for most agents, but some still make a decent living. Who are they and how do they do it? It’s not rocket science. They believe in, and practice, the principles of high-tech and high-touch, and you can, too. How many of these good business techniques do you use?

High-tech Do you have a good Web site? Is it updated frequently, listed on search engines, stationery and business cards, and promoted in advertising? Do you have an excellent database? How well do you know your clients’ past travel histories, including destinations, activities, per-diem budgets and future plans? Can you query that database for a list of all clients who have said they would like to go to Hong Kong? How well do you know the Web? The Web is an excellent source of information for you and your clients. The more familiar you are with the resources available on the Web, the more valuable you are to your clients.

High-touch Provide excellent customer service. Would you want to do business with you? Are you available when your customers want to talk to you? Do you make house calls? Exceed their expectations. Why should clients do business with you? Do you offer more than your competition? Do you try to sell them the cheapest price or the best value?

Find a niche There are thousands of travel agencies out there, so how do you differentiate your firm? What can you offer clients that your competition can’t? What do you do to stand out in the crowd? Become an expert in a particular aspect of travel that will attract customers looking for your expertise.

Even in a down market, you can more than hold your own with a daily dose of high-tech and high-touch. And when the market comes back as it will you’ll be way ahead.

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