There is no doubt about it: The travel industry has been through a tough few years and this year is no different. Gobal economic problems, international terrorism and the issues surrounding the UK’s decision to leave the European Union all place pressures on travel agents and their margins.
The cruise industry has remained buoyant, however, but the competition between agents has increased considerably. So what can you do as a travel agent to ensure you are one step ahead of your competitors?
The key isn’t to be cheaper. It’s about being different and taking care of the details. Working in the cruise and travel industry, I think sometimes some of us forget just how big a decision booking a cruise is for most people.
Whether they are first-time cruisers or more experienced travellers, the fact is that a cruise represents a significant financial investment from which they want to maximise their pleasure. Confronted with a plethora of agents all offering similar deals and offers, it can be overwhelming for many people to choose just where to book their cruise.
First of all ask yourself: Why should they use your business? Put yourself in the position of someone looking to book a cruise. Why should they choose to use you? Because you offer the best prices? Unbeatable customer service? Really look after your customers?
These may very well all be true but to be honest, these are the sort of statements that nearly all travel agents make. This means your potential customers will struggle to differentiate you from all of your rivals. The key therefore isn’t just to be better, it’s to be different.
Being different means that you stand out from your competitors instead of blending in with them. It gives you a strong and identifiable personal brand as an agent and makes you not just another travel agency but one that stands out and provides solutions.
Unlike cheaper package holidays, which may be booked solely on price by many people, a cruise is different; people will be just as interested in making the cruise the best it can be as they are in issues such as price. That is where you can be different and really offer that personal touch. That means two things for you as an agent:
1. You can use your skills as an agent to maximise your customer’s cruise experience by offering a range of bespoke add-ons/services that look after their needs.
2. You can maximise the revenue you make from the sale(s).
Think of things like: how are they going to get to and from their cruise? Taking away the stresses and strains of making their own way to and from the port not only makes your customer’s holiday experience that little bit more memorable, it can also be a lucrative source of income, as every booking with ourselves at Ports Direct earns a commission. As well as luxury port transfers, for the more budget-conscious cruisers there is also a shared door-to-door option.
Looking after the finer details such as this doesn’t just make you more money; it sets you apart from the competition.