Is Youth Being Served?

For home-based travel agents looking for a niche to build on, you might want to listen to the words of travel and tourism consultant Doug Shifflet, who noted at a recent Travel Agent roundtable event that “A lot of younger people are using travel agents [today] because they don’t know where to go, how it all works, how to get a good deal.”

I thought about that during my meeting this week with Greg “Fish” Fischbein, president of Contiki Holidays. Contiki focuses on vacations for 18- to 35-year-olds—hardly the typical demographic of your clients, but one that you should be focusing on.

While boomers are cutting back and holding on to their money during this economic morass, this is the group that is least affected and perhaps most willing to pack up and travel. Fischbein notes that “the youth market served by Contiki has shown exceptional resilience throughout this historic economic downturn. No property, no portfolio, no pension—no problem!”

This is also a group that has traditionally not worked with travel agents. They’ve come of age in an era of Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and the like, so it’s up to agents to reach out to them and show what you can offer. “More agents are seeing the value—immediate and lifetime— of this demographic as the more ‘traditional’ clients stayed home this year,” Fischbein told me.

Many of you currently hold small events in your communities to promote your latest offerings—think about connecting to this segment through the local college or Starbucks or wherever the “millennials” gather in your area. And, of course, don’t forget the power of social networking with this group. (For more on that, be sure to register for Travel Agent’s upcoming webinar.)

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