Some of the UK’s leading travel agents have revealed how “old-school” sales and marketing tactics have paid dividends for their business.
And customer service rules in a digital world where too many companies rely on technology to interact with consumers, according to agents speaking at this week’s The Global Travel Group (TGTG) conference in Dubai (23-25 May).
“We’re going back to old-school methods,” revealed Sam Cassem of family-run Your Travel. “When you call us, you always get a person answering the phone, not a machine, and we answer within 10 seconds. It makes a difference because with advances in technology, personal service doesn’t exist anymore.”
He was one of four Global agents speaking on a panel session entitled ‘The Secrets of their Success’, on day three of the conference (25 May), which is taking place at Atlantis, The Palm.
Myriad Travel’s Jess Matthews explained how good old fashioned “word of mouth” was bringing in the business at the agency she runs with her mum.
“We hold small targeted events for our clients to educate them and inspire them about the products we sell,” she explained.
“We also ask them to bring a friend along – we find it works to get personal with current and potential customers.”
Industry veteran Martin Wellings of PST Travel stressed that his main competitor was the internet, “so our number one USP is service”.
“The key to success for us is having good staff; experienced staff who know more than the travelling public,” he said.
“Our job as an agent is not to book holidays, it’s to sell holidays, agents sometimes forget that. There is not enough emphasis on selling.”
For Lakh Hayer of Honeymoon Dreams, “thinking outside of the box” and finding a niche – the weddings and honeymoons market – has been the secret of success for his travel business.
“It’s also important to have a strong brand,” he added.
The upshot of the discussion was that the personal, specialised service good agents can offer is irreplaceable. Those who inspire their customers to travel with their knowledge, expertise and passion will not only survive, but thrive.