Vacation.com is talkin’ bout my generation. The buzz around the 16th annual International Conference and Trade Show this year is all about, you guessed it, Millennials.
One of the biggest pieces of news coming out of the conference in Las Vegas this year is Agent Snapshot, a new online marketing tool that is going to change Vacation.com’s game and make it even more attractive to young travelers. “After 16 years, we’re going to do something with our website,” John Lovell, president of Vacation.com, joked to the crowd of more than 1,500 attendees at the opening general session on Sunday evening.
At a small press conference held Monday, June 9, Lovell and Vacation.com execs elaborated on the program, Agent Snapshot. “We are going to leverage our greatest asset - our members,” Lovell said to members of the press. “The URL that we have always had is a tool and a benefit, but we can leverage it with our members to put them front and center with the emerging client.”
Agent Snapshot enables agents to introduce themselves and their travel experiences to consumers on www.vacation.com. Through Agent Snapshot, a tool which is accessed from Agent Universe, Vacation.com members are able to convey much more than just their agency’s general specialties and destination expertise. The new tool provides them with an opportunity to personally and electronically introduce themselves, their travel experiences, their skills, their locale and their passions that count for potential clients. The more differentiation in the agent’s snapshot, the more intelligent a consumer match will be. As more and more sophisticated travelers turn to the web to research their vacation plans, they will organically discover and recognize Vacation.com members.
Since announcing the program, which went live on Friday, 220 agents had signed up for Agent Snapshot, and 60 had already uploaded profiles.
“Millennials are coming,” said Stephen McGillivray, CMO of Vacation.com. “Travel is simply in their DNA and that speaks volumes for travel distribution. Millennials put little faith in traditional media. They trust peer reviews, customer ratings, chats with friends and family. This generation wants to connect.” And here is the role that Agent Snapshot will play in harnessing this new wave of traveler. Vacation.com is providing snapshot tips, best practices, and workshops to agents attending the Conference. Later this year, when the consumer-facing website is redesigned, agents’ snapshots matched to online consumers will need to meet quick response times as it’s an electronic forum and the consumer expectation is immediate.
Leveraging Social Media
So why are Millennials the talk of the town? The easiest answer is because of their mastery of social media and how they use it to drive business. In a panel held at one of the general sessions, industry professionals talked about how Millennials operate differently.
“Our group is getting younger,” says Lynn Clark of Funjet Vacations. “They don’t think of themselves as travel agents. They think of themselves as business people in the travel industry. This is a mind shift we have to keep in mind.”
“Facebook and Twitter are incredible for sharing with clients,” says Carolyn Cauceglia of Amadeus. “You can be connected to your client along the way and touch them on various points of the trip. When they get to a certain city or go on a cruise ship or go on a tour, you can inspire them and be their trusted advisor along each step of the way.”
“There is so much information out there that it leads to consumer confusion,” says Vicki Freed of Royal Caribbean. “When people are confused they give up. That’s why all of you play such a critical role in your clients’ vacations and in their lives. I believe that you help guide people to make the right buying decision.”