As you may know, I’m currently engaged in a study of travel agency websites. Indulge me for a moment and consider the merit of my strongly held belief: consumers don’t need another place to buy travel. Consumers have an almost unlimited access to travel product. They can buy direct from suppliers, from other travel agents, from monster-sized online sites, and from organizations and clubs like AARP or Costco.
Travel, travel everywhere. Most travel agents will overtly agree with the idea they do not sell travel. However, too often their web sites betray another self-image. On the home page of many travel agency web sites, dozens of supplier logos flash at the viewer like the reels on a slot machine. Most of the text is about suppliers, supplier properties and features. In fact, there is often very little information about the travel agency at all, and what information is available is couched in vague language about “great customer service.”
Yikes. This is no way to run a truly great travel practice. That type of website invites price comparison. Travelers don’t need another place to buy travel; they need educated, professional advice on how to make intelligent buying decisions.
Good content does not equal supplier content. Your travel agency is not about suppliers. Your travel agency is all about you. Your reason for being has to do with the benefits clients receive when they do business with you. Listing the dozens of tour operators and suppliers your clients use indicates more about the transactional nature of your business than it does about the relationships you build with clients. If you are nothing more than a vending machine for travel, if you simply move from one transaction to another, why should anyone do business with you as opposed to any other travel agency? If all you are doing is selling travel, then everything comes down to price. My guess is that you cannot compete for very long on the basis of lowest price.
You are unique. YOU can not be found for less on the internet. Your skill set, your experience, your insight, care, and patience are some of the characteristics that set you apart. Your clients benefit from the remarkable combination of qualities resident in your travel practice. You have personality! That’s what sets you apart and that’s what you should be marketing.
Travel I can get anywhere. You, I can only get from you.
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