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Independent Agents Must Brand ThemselvesMarch 26, 2010 By: George Dooley
“Why should I do business with you?” This is one of the most basic questions clients ask and agents must answer, Scott Koepf, CTC, MCC, and president of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) believes. And it is the reason why NACTA has launched a new free service for members called One Sheet.
A veteran agent and industry executive, Koepf sees a new business model emerging that gives the advantage to the agent who can develop personalized, one-on-one relationships with clients and back it up with superlative client services.
“The individual agent is the brand and relationship marketing is the future,” Koepf said. “Too many agents try to sell on price and product rather than based on relationships. Consumers can get all the price and product information they need online. More than they can use. But doing business online does not allow personalized interaction. It doesn’t answer the question— why do business with this agent or company?”
Today’s travel professional is dealing with very well informed travelers who have vast information resources at their fingertips. “Agents must be expert to be sure," Koepf said. "But expertise and judgment is not a commodity. What the agent provides is more -including trust, confidence, reassurance and skill."
From his perspective, the industry has moved from the agency centric model to an agents model. While both will co-exist, growth will come from the agents model, Koepf says.
One Sheet is NACTA’s way to answer the question, Koepf says. On one page, the travel agent can outline their special competencies, experience and expertise, offer testimonials, get across their professional experience as well as recognize the suppliers and hosts that they deal with. When combined with a photo, contact information and a personal entry, the agent can use One Sheet as a one-page resume to reach potential clients.
Agents can brand themselves and their company, upload logos and photos and include training programs and certification completed by the agents (including designations such as CTC and MCC). One Sheet provides a way to communicate customized information tailored to the clients or markets the individual agent wants to reach.
Supplier support of One Sheet has been excellent, according to Koepf. Many are offering a $50 discount toward NACTA membership. Membership is normally $145 but with supplier support is at $95. Non-members can see samples of the One Sheet promotions at www.NACTA.com.