Results of the latest Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN) survey of outside agents clearly depicts how outside agents are moving away from traditional travel agency practices and creating new methods to generate their business.
As OSSN reported earlier, outside agents make most of their bookings from 6-9 PM while most brick and mortar agencies are closed. Only 48.5 percent consider themselves full service agents while 39 percent are niche or destination specialists.
When asked whom do they partner with to grow their business, 33.6 percent responded they belong to local social organizations. "This made sense as agents have been doing this forever," said Gary Fee, OSSN president.
"But the real eye opener is that 28.7 percent have partnered with other outside agents. Destination specialists are teaming up with niche market agents to provide their clients with in-depth targeted product knowledge resulting in very high levels of customer service provided by the agents and the suppliers they sell. This in turn creates long term customers which reinforces their response to how they find new business," Fee said.
When asked how they find new clients 63 percent said referrals while 44 percent acquire new clients by personally networking. "This shows they don't just rely on referrals but communicate electronically and in person in their respective marketplaces at all hours of the day and night in their pursuit of new clientele," said Fee.
"They seem to be always on the hunt at social gatherings, with past clients and even in retail stores with strangers. The numbers indicate they are becoming more of an aggressive group by being more proactive in face to face encounters as opposed to sitting at home waiting for prospects to contact them," Fee said.
OSSN, a major association of outside agents, said it will continue to survey agents' business practices to assist travel agency owners and suppliers to better understand this group of travel sellers.
OSSN was founded in 1990 and today claims 80 chapters, over 8000 members and 160 Allied supplier members.