Travel agents need to step up and ‘perform’ to customers if they are to provide the best customer service, members of Advantage were told last week.
Kate Hardcastle from Insight With Passion explained that while “needs are a given” when it comes to service, those that “have added wants” are those that succeed. A similar message was portrayed by ‘futurologist’ Magnus Lindkvist, who predicted that the future business model will mean companies will connect needs, wants and values no matter how temporary they may be.
Hardcastle encouraged frontline staff to act as brand ambassadors for the store particularly as her research across the retail sector found customers will pay more for good service and 60% of purchases are decided in-store. “Get the sticky back work done before so when that shutter goes up that is your curtain opening for retail theatre,” she said. “In my mystery shop three of four travel agents just gave me a brochure and there was no connection when I walked into the shop”.
Hardcastle suggested agents should create a focus through the analogy of a camera lens, therefore honing in on staff strengths and developing a future strategy. This proposition urged agents to put customers at the core of the business, which was echoed at the conference by Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. When asked how the band has managed to keep its fans during its 37-year career, Dickinson said it was important not to let the fans (or customers) down and drift ‘off-brand’, hence seeing him turn down a role on The Voice UK. In addition he said the band will only approve merchandise of the highest quality and again, relevant to market.
The statements were made at the conference after Advantage’s John McEwan had previously said mainstream bookings across the industry this year are down 8% while the specialist market is thriving.