Travel Agents

“Travel is losing its spark”: Trafalgar CEO says agents can rekindle the flame

Ali Coulton

Trafalgar CEO Gavin Tollman fears travel is losing its spark.

Upon hearing him voice these concerns, our initial reaction was a big “EXCUSE US?!”, but we took a deep breath and allowed him to explain.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Tollman said travellers are becoming disillusioned with three big parts of travel: firstly, the overwhelming enormity of choice, second was the hassle involved, and third was the Instagram factor.

“Everybody wants to do cool things while they are on holiday,” Tollman told us.

The impact of social media means people are looking for bragging rights. But as a traveller, the ability to actually do that is becoming increasingly difficult.”

The huge number of bucket list travel photos that flood our Instagram feeds on the daily are a testament to Tollmans point.

That’s why travellers are increasingly seeking out new, immersive experiences and local interactions that don’t just tick a box.Trafalgar_Libero at Villa MACHIAVELLI

“When Trafalgar began its mission to offer local authentic experiences back in 2009, I had no idea of the degree of success we would have, and I had no idea the world would evolve into what it is today as it relates to travel.”

According to Tollman, Trafalgar’s Be My Guest program is one way of bringing the spark back.

The Be My Guest program was designed to fulfil travellers desire to truly understand the destinations they are visiting by interacting with locals and learning about local cultures.

“The power of Be My Guest is that these local experiences are genuine,” he said.

“We know and it’s taken us 72 years of connections to curate these trips.”

“These are experiences you could never have on your own.”

As for the stress factor, that’s where agents come in.

“That has got to be the greatest opportunity that exists for agents,” Tollman said.

“The opportunity is for agents to ensure they are not just order takers, they are connecting guests to what it is they want to do and then helping them fill that need.”

But, Tollman stresses, you’ve got to sell it exactly like that.

“You’ve got to recognise the fact that they’re [customers] going to be overwhelmed by choice, they want to have local experience but are nervous that they can’t actually get them,” he said.

“To engage and have that conversation is imperative, not to just ask ‘do you want this type of travel or this type of travel?’ because consumers today do not buy travel based on a segment, they buy it based on the emotional attachment they’re going to get to that destination,” he concluded. 

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  • Brett Flower

    I feel the first issue is that we are confusing Travellers with Tourists.Those selfie stick wielding – see it all in 5 minutes and post on social media are tourists. Those that immerse themselves in the culture, try to blend in, eat with the locals and get constantly and “purposely” lost exploring; are travellers. Define each and then cater for them accordingly. Sales 101 = qualify your customer.

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