Travel Counsellors MD David Hughes says travel agents will be just fine in the future, but only if they establish their purpose.
A lot of talk at the recent Travel DAZE conference surrounded what the future of travel looks like for our industry, and the status and sustainability of the retail travel agent is a regularly hot topic.
But as far as Hughes is concerned, nothing major has to change yet.
“People claimed online retail was the future of travel, but it’s all bullshit,” Hughes said.
“They say millennials are important and will be the biggest spender in 10 years, but they’re only one customer segment.
“If you’re going to succeed, you need to focus on what you’re trying to achieve before you start worrying about everything else.”
“Online retailers hold 20-25 per cent of the travel market in Australia, after all those years of threatening to take over the entire travel market.
“But disruptors don’t make change, consumers do.
“For years, everyone said ‘we’re a travel agent’, then businesses started saying all the ways they were different.
“The businesses that are really successful now and who are understanding their customers are the ones that understand why they exist, and what their purpose is for their customers.
“Everybody knows the brand Apple and Steve jobs,” Hughes explained. “Apple exists to challenge the status quo, everyone knows that’s their purpose.
“Lego is the antidote to passive entertainment, they’re actually the builders of tomorrow. The analog world transitioned into a digital world and they’re still doing really well.
“So why are you special? What makes you different? What do you offer? Why would customers come to you?
“With purpose, you’re not worrying about millennials, disruptors and online retailers, you’re worrying about customers,” Hughes said.
“Stop telling people you’re a travel agent, because you’re a travel adviser.
“Do you know your why? If you don’t, you need to be challenging that and ask what your ‘why’ is.”
And according to Hughes, that’s how you’ll ensure your business keeps thriving well into the future.