Too often, travel agents are trapped in a black hole of who has the best price, according to John Werner, president and CEO of Oak Brook Terrace, Ill., based MAST Travel Network.
"Customers whose only focus is on price and the agents who are trying to compete in that environment, find themselves often disappointed and frustrated," Werner told Travel Agent.
"Price-driven customers who do not meet their emotional needs may become dissatisfied and lay blame on the travel agent. While the agents spend their valuable time, make less money, if they get the price driven sale at all," Werner said.
"To break this cycle, the agent must take control of the relationship and establish themselves as the professional who will provide solutions to the customer's emotional needs. This means the agent must position themselves in the relationship as someone who shares the customer's values, dreams, and genuinely shows they care about the customer."
" Examples of customer care begins with how a person is greeted and welcomed in the agency or on the phone, asking the right questions in an exploratory or discovery-type manner, and uncovering needs customer's don't always reveal. These three tips represent the starting point and will help the agent avoid being trapped."
Werner also offered a definition of travel agency branding. "A brand is an experience, an emotional connection; it is a distinct and unique promise to the customer that you will deliver an indelible moment that helps create a memory."
"As a travel agent, you are the brand. Clients are buying you when they come to your agency to purchase their vacation. Sure they are buying a cruise or a tour or a package, but they can buy these from anybody. They can't get you anywhere else. Define your brand. What is your distinct and unique promise? And how will you deliver value and meet your clients emotional needs?" Werner asks. For information: mvptravel.com (GD)