MAST Agents Expand Tools to CompeteFebruary 17, 2009 By: George Dooley
MAST member agencies are sharing success stories on upgrading clients to premium room categories at resorts and higher stateroom categories on cruise ships rather than refund money when prices drop, according to John Werner, president and COO of MAST.
At recent MAST sponsored meetings, agencies said they are looking for ways to deal with the intense price shopping on the Internet by remaining positive, keeping clients excited about their trip, and encouraging them to bring back to the agency anything they find in their research.
Werner said that, in many cases, members report they had as good a deal or a better deal from one of MAST preferred suppliers either through various promotions, sale prices, and price-matching. Agencies are also using social networking, blogs, website referrals, and search engine optimization to build sales and client loyalties.
Many agencies are also posting client vacation photos on agency websites and using client testimonials for trip reviews online, moves that highlight an agency’s unique value to its customers.
Over 200 agency owners, managers, and sales staff from MAST member offices participated in a series of regional meetings throughout the Midwest during January and February, Werner said. Key discussion points focused on the economy and its effect on business, effective marketing programs, selling to profitable markets, and building revenue in challenging times.
“Beginning the new year by bringing members together during these very challenging times to hear what’s working and isn’t working for other agencies, to discuss strategies on maintaining profitability, and to learn survival marketing methods has been invaluable," said Werner. "Our members feel connected and know they don’t have to get through this alone."
Royal Caribbean International and Globus Family of Brands sponsored these dinner meetings. Both presented product and marketing activities for groups, incentives, special interest and niche travel opportunities. MAST Travel Network is the premier travel agency consortium and marketing group in the Midwest with over 182 agency members in eight states and Canada.