The travel industry has been on a rollercoaster since the spring of 2020, when a global pandemic brought life to a standstill around the world.
Even after social distancing measures and border closures began to ease, the industry still had much to grapple with the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change and environmental destruction. For example, we needed to find ways to do business in new, more sustainable ways. And as inflation kicked in soon after the ongoing challenges, the cost of doing business skyrocketed as the cost of food, fuel and labor skyrocketed.
For years, Travel Advisor will have to navigate this rapidly evolving landscape, and 2023 will likely require continued agility.
With that in mind, TravelPulse asked agents to share their thoughts on the biggest mistakes they should avoid in the next year and the biggest questions and problems they and their colleagues are likely to face in the next 12 months. I asked you to
1. The world has changed dramatically.don’t pretend
We Book Travel’s Jesse Morris said:
“We have spent a lot of time helping our clients prepare for temporary changes in travel, such as masks, social distancing and vaccination requirements. There are a lot of permanent changes that we might consider permanent,” he added.
What are some of the developments that stay here?
Little things like replacing restaurant menus with QR codes, as well as contactless check-in at hotels and airports and virtual tours of popular cultural attractions, are probably permanent parts of the travel experience.
All these changes, initially caused by the pandemic, are likely to remain part of the travel landscape for years to come.It would be a mistake for agents to neglect to deal with the new realities with their clients. “The more we prepare our clients before they travel, the better their overall experience,” says Morris.
2. Travel costs are increasing and likely to remain high.talk openly about this reality
“Another area we need to be prepared to discuss is proper budgeting,” says Morris. “The cost of air travel is rising. As people get used to pricing at current levels, prices will drop significantly even as airline staffing and routes return to more acceptable levels. less likely.”
It’s also worth noting that prices are likely to continue to rise further through 2023, so this reality needs to be made clear during conversations with customers.
“Airfares are estimated to rise by more than 8% in 2023. Those waiting to book a ticket expecting a price drop are likely to be disappointed,” Morris said. “So we need to be prepared to discuss this with our clients.”
3. Education will be essential in 2023.don’t neglect this step
“Education for you and your agents is very important this year. Be the top of the agency and know your destinations, requirements, tour companies, inside and outside the industry,” said Elite Travel founder. , Tammy Levent, advises.
Clients tend to weigh the products, skills and knowledge of multiple experts. Educating yourself to stand out in the minds of potential clients is key to your success.
“You have to be competitive with your competitors,” says Levent. “Live and breathe what you sell.”
4. Don’t waste your advertising and marketing budget
“Whatever you do, don’t stop promoting and marketing your agency,” Levent says. We tend to quit, but now is the time to advertise and get your name out there.”
Levent says agencies will definitely feel the benefits if your brand isn’t being promoted on social media or other means of advertising.
5. Express empathy and understanding as you work with clients during these uncertain times
“There will be clients who are afraid to pull the trigger while on vacation. Try to empathize with them,” says Levent.
The last few years have been tough for everyone, individuals and businesses alike. The brutal reality of the pandemic is still being processed. And for many, it has sparked a new realization of the value of life and how fleeting it can be.
“We realized that life is too short. Of course, no one is guaranteed a tomorrow,” continues Levent.
Your client may be struggling to find a way to make that three-week business trip they dreamed of work come true. But as a travel professional, you can bring empathy to the table and help your clients find alternative itineraries, destinations, or options that are just as fulfilling.
“If you don’t take time with your clients, they’ll be gone. You need to reach out during these difficult times, and online agencies can’t provide that,” says Levent.
6. Check in with vendors regularly
Regular and effective communication is essential for the smooth running of almost any business. But in 2023, maintaining open communication with vendors will be especially important.
“Have strong relationships with your vendors,” says Levent. “Do your research and make sure you are stable as you were before COVID and that you can keep the economic turnaround going.”
This is especially important. Because what happens to you and your clients if a vendor suddenly goes bankrupt? Levent suggests that advisors consider securing bankruptcy insurance.
7. Embrace new forms of communication in 2023
As part of your efforts to continue to reach new market segments and customers, consider expanding or diversifying the communication methods you use.
Corey Hargarther, Dream Vacations Travel Advisor, said: “I used to be most comfortable using traditional methods like email and phone calls. I made the reservation.
“Additionally, I was contacted via Facebook Messenger about Babymoon earlier this year and have found this to be the easiest way to reach out to this client,” adds Hargarther.
8. Don’t assume your clients will follow the same buying behavior as they did in the past
A client who has been housebound for two years may be ready to break out of past travel patterns. In some cases, you may end up traveling more luxuriously than ever before.
“For example, we sold Globus Paris, Normandy & Châteaux Country with a September 2023 London tour for just over $10,000,” says Hargarther. “The client has booked trips with our agency almost every year since 1997. The escorted tours they booked cost him almost double what they did on previous vacations.”
Given that clients have been spending significantly more time at home in the last three years, they are often spending far more time than they used to, says Hargarther.
9. Don’t focus too much on the introductory price
Rather than focusing on introductory pricing for 2023, Hargarther said, agents will be better served by focusing on overall value with clients.
“Cruise lines such as Celebrity, Norwegian, Princess, and Holland America often offer packages that include extras such as gratuities, Wi-Fi, and beverages, which are significantly more expensive when purchased with the cruise than when purchased onboard. ,” explains Hargarther. “This is a win-win opportunity for both Travel Advisor and the consumer.”
10. Keep proving your worth to every client
There is no denying the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous disruption and challenges to businesses and individuals around the world.
But there are many stories of companies and sectors that not only survived, but thrived. Travel agents, in particular, are more important than ever as industry professionals who can help clients navigate rapidly changing conditions and country-by-country rules and regulations.
“If there were any positives that came out of it, it was the professional profile Travel Advisor has gained and the go-to resource for travelers compared to online travel booking engines,” said Morris. says.
“But over time, people start to forget the pain of the past few years and start to go back to their old habits,” adds Morris. We have to work hard to prove our worth, we have to keep that in mind and make sure our clients put us first on every trip.Here If you fail, it’s a fatal mistake.”
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