The travel industry is constantly in a state of evolution, and the role of the travel agent has become more dynamic than ever.
As technology and OTAs become more prevalent, it can be difficult to keep up with what the role of the agent amongst this influx of information consumers often find themselves lost in.
We sat down with Venture Far MD Robert MacKay to find out what agents can do to keep up and learn a little about how wholesalers can use technology to drive travellers to agents.
Venture Far recently unveiled a fantastic new website that allows travellers to research their offerings before they book with their agent.
“Two years ago we realised that wholesaling in its traditional form experienced a sizable shift in the way we do business, we needed to adopt different technologies to take this into account,” said Mackay.
“Part of that is how a consumer researches their travel experiences.”
“Once they used to just go into a travel agent and the travel agent was filling all their requirements.”
“Now, they research their holidays before going to the travel agency.”
“What we’re finding is the consumer, by the time they get into the travel agent, they’ve already researched their decision on what type of product they wanted.”
Essentially, the website works as a living brochure, that is constantly updated by travel influencers.
“It actually engages with the consumer, so it helps the travel agent as well because its actually influencing the consumer.”
“We can track what the consumer is interested in doing far before they even get to the travel agent.”
“Its actually driving them into the travel agent.”
Mackay told us that while agents are doing amazing work, many still need to take the plunge into becoming more influential.
“Travel agents need to be more inspirational,” he said.
“They need to try to be influencers in travel rather than try to be passive in what the consumer has researched.”
“It’s hard because people are doing so much research online, so they need to have really good sales techniques, be right ahead in what’s happening and how they can influence their client with offering them something based on knowledge.”
“Its that kind of battle between whats available online and what value the agent is giving to the consumer and that really comes down to knowledge and service.”
“And really up to date knowledge. It’s not just a booking service which they previously offered.”
Above all, Mackay believes agents need to really sell their support services.
“It’s also the backing the agent has to emphasise, they are there for travellers 24/7,” Mackay said.
“If something happens overseas they’ve got the agent there to rectify any situation, they need to emphasise their value.”