Travel agent usage may have made a bit of a comeback in the last few years, thanks mainly to a rise in agent usage by millennials, but the relative ease of DIYing trips online means there are still large numbers of people – particularly amongst Gen X-ers, the first generation to experience the novelty of booking their own trips online – who are resistant to the charms of the travel agent or advisor.
This 2018 article from Travel Weekly Australia summarises a survey of American travellers across several demographics to shed some light on just what people’s objections to using a travel agent are – and in this blog post we explain how eRoam’s travel technology solution for travel agents can help you overcome them, change attitudes and win over those potential customers who have reservations (no pun intended!) about using your agency services…
Travel Agents Cost More
51% of those surveyed – and 61% of Gen Xers – cited cost as the main reason they wouldn’t use a travel agent. And of course they have a point; when you use a travel agent you’re paying someone else to do all the legwork of picking the right hotels, comparing flight prices & routes, finding the right activities etc. This can be a time-consuming activity for travel agents and of course their time isn’t free.
How can eRoam help? Firstly eRoam’s platform is so easy to use that with a minimum of training any agent can put together a quote and send it to the customer in a matter of minutes. Just select destinations, dates, budget, room types and interests, and eRoam will put together a quote with live availability and pricing, with daily activities based on the client’s interests, which the agent & client can then discuss and tweak. If you’re taking minutes instead of hours to do a quote, you’re saving time, reducing costs and increasing your conversion rate. And dynamic pricing means you can keep clients updated when prices change or special offers/discounts are available.
And eRoam’s huge global marketplace, with millions of travel, transportation and accommodation providers in over 20,000 destinations, pulls in product and content from multiple sources, meaning you always have access to the best rates. If you use DMCs, encourage them to use eRoam too – they will also reduce their quoting times allowing them to offer better deals to agents like you.
I Don’t Want a Package Tour
Amongst the travellers surveyed, 28% believed that travel agents could only offer them off-the-shelf package tours, rather than customised tours tailored to their needs. This perception was particularly strong amongst millennials for whom the concept of authentic local experiences is a lot more important than for other demographics.
How Can eRoam Help? Well, eRoam is all about trip customisation and as I wrote above, putting together a tailormade trip based on the client’s requirements & interests is quick and simple. eRoam offers over 750,000 hotels, villas, guesthouses and private homes making it easy to find the right accommodation for your client; and we have literally thousands of tours and activities provided both by larger providers such as Viator and G Adventures as well as hundreds of small local agents, meaning you can choose from a range of mainstream tourist activities and niche local experiences to ensure the client gets exactly what they’re looking for. You can even search for activities based on your client’s interests and hobbies. Building custom trips – even in destinations you may not be familiar with – has never been easier or quicker.
I Don’t Want to Pay Just to Get a Quote
Yes, many travel agents and advisors out there charge for putting quotes together, which is understandable when you consider that putting a quote together might take up several working hours and is certainly not guaranteed to result in a booking. But with 85% of respondents saying they’d be more likely to use a travel agent if they knew they could get a commitment-free quote, maybe it’s time to rethink that model.
How can eRoam help? As I said above, putting a quote together in eRoam, even a long, complex one involving multiple destinations and niche interests, takes minutes rather than hours/days. You can even put together a quote on the fly with the customer sitting with you (see video below). No need to send messages or enquiries to overseas partners and wait hours or longer for a response.
This HUGE decrease in quoting time means you can respond to customer enquiries quickly, and respond to change requests even quicker, reducing your working time and increasing your conversion rate, which means you might even be able to stop charging for quotations altogether!