Experts Guide to… schoolies with a difference

Experts Guide to… schoolies with a difference
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ASK THE EXPERTS

Roger Popth of Spudsin Travel asks:
I have a 17 year old daughter who is finishing school this year and that of course means her schoolies trip is coming up. I’ve booked a lot of these trips before and have heard all the horror stories, but fortunately my daughter seems keen to avoid the more controversial spots like Surfers Paradise. I’m keen to know if you can recommend any destinations or operators who provide slightly more wholesome and rewarding options for school leavers?

Dan's answer:

It’s certainly true that the party until you collapse schoolies experience isn’t for everyone, and as luck would have it, I have recently spotted something that would fit the bill perfectly. World Youth Adventures, a division of World Expeditions, have a range of options for students and school leavers that give them an experience of foreign cultures, provide a few challenges and keep them sufficiently entertained.

The tours are led by experienced, first-aid trained guides and they have an impeccable safety record – it certainly sounds safer than sleeping on 10th floor balconies in Surfers.

The itineraries are timed to coincide with the traditional late November/early December schoolies dates and destinations scheduled for 2013 include Nepal, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. And for those who want to keep the trip in the domestic realm, there’s an itinerary that visits Tasmania as well. I hope this helps out.

Geraldine Smith of Organic Travel asks:
A few of my clients travel to the US on business and they are always looking for work or meeting spaces other than their hotel rooms, the lobby or a Starbucks. Are there any websites where I can direct them to in order to find short-term office space?

David's answer:

A number of companies are offering precisely that service. The most notable is LiquidSpace (liquidspace.com), which operates a website and a mobile app which enables travellers to search a database of more than 1500 workspaces and meeting venues across almost 200 US cities by location. The search can examine size, date, price and amenities to narrow the results. Using a credit card, clients can book the spaces for between one hour and one day, with options including co-working centres, hotel meeting rooms, offices within corporations and even private homes.

As well as improving efficiency, the spaces are particularly good for travellers who need to look professional when conducting meetings with clients or interviews with prospective employees. LiquidSpace claims it will expand its booking service next year to Europe and possibly even Australia. Until then, travellers can still view basic listings for a limited number of workspaces outside the US.

Gillian Gross of agency withheld asks:
I am sick and tired of people walking in to our agency and saying something like ‘I want to go here and I can book airfares and accommodation for X price online.’ I want to instigate a PR blitz to show people in my local area that the knowledge and experience of our consultants trumps the ability to book on your own. I want potential clients to better understand this, rather than just walking in to hold us to ransom. Can you suggest how I might go about doing this?

Georgina says:

Consumers have a huge amount of information at their fingertips and almost every customer who walks into a travel agency today has probably already researched online.

However, there are still a lot of people who prefer the service of a travel agent. Hence, it is more important than ever for offline travel agencies to communicate clearly their services and value. Rather than a one-off blitz, an ongoing marketing and communications strategy will ensure that your agency adapts and takes advantage of the opportunities.

Nowadays consumers are looking for specialists. So, consider developing areas of speciality in your agency. Focus your efforts on more complex trips and unique experiences because consumers will more commonly look to agencies to help with these types of holidays.

Once you have your product defined, ensure all your marketing communicates your expertise and educates consumers about the value you offer, rather than simply promoting general holidays or deals.

Build a relationship with your local newspaper and try to get your agency featured by pitching yourself or your specialist agents for interviews or for a regular column with travel tips, unique destinations and holiday inspiration.

Consider launching an advertising campaign that highlights your expertise and drives customers to your website for further information. Your website is an important tool, so make sure it clearly communicates the value you offer. It is also a good idea to ramp up your social media presence and include travel tips and teasers on your pages.

Also, try to leverage the good work you have done for happy clients by asking them to complete reviews on your website, social media sites and for marketing collateral that highlights how they benefited from your services. Good luck.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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