When all the information in the world is seemingly at our fingertips, a lot of people out there have the mindset that they don’t need experts anymore. From fixing their leaky sink using a Youtube video to planning their family vacation on Expedia, consumers can give you reason after reason that they’d rather just do it themselves. As travel agents, it’s crucial that we learn the reasoning behind individual's desire to book travel themselves. When we understand these motivations, we can assuage doubts and dispel the common myths that the general population has regarding travel agents. Below are three of the top reasons people say they don’t need a travel agent, and how you can change their minds:
We’ve all seen the many advertisements and commercials for bargain vacation and travel booking websites. Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com—it seems there’s a never-ending list of websites promising to find you the cheapest fare for your trip. However, the consumers who swear by these sites are often less than thrilled with the “bargain” experience. That low-cost flight might actually be stand-by only. The hotel you booked might be a little less clean and modern than it looked online, but when you call the bargain website’s customer support, they’re less than helpful or sympathetic. What these people don’t know is that a travel agent can often match or come very close to those online bargain prices, and they’ll be there to help if anything unexpected happens. This gives you the opportunity to educate them about your personalized service and flex your expert muscles about knowledge of the region to which they’re traveling.
We all know these people—the type-A, I’ll-just-do-it-myself individual that has trouble relinquishing control. Some consumers think that there’s no chance a stranger can plan them a trip that fits their personality and expectations. They don’t want a detailed list telling them where to go and what to do on their vacation. They think they can come up with a better plan from conducting their own research or talking to friends. There isn’t anything wrong with the independent consumer; however, they often assume if they go to a travel agent they have to surrender complete control of their vacation itinerary. Travel agents are perfectly comfortable working closely with the client to plan their trip or taking care of the broader details and leaving the rest up to the traveler. This allows you the opportunity to build lasting, trusting relationships with clients and give them more reasons to come back to you in the future.
Hiring an expert is never cheap, right? If you book a trip through a travel agent, you have to pay for their knowledge and time on top of the travel expenses. With that mindset, it’s easy to see why some consumers think they can save more money if they do everything themselves. What they don’t know? Travel agents have relationships with big cruise lines, airlines and hotel chains that let them work out better deals the average consumer couldn’t receive. In the end, they’ll save costs in many other areas by booking with a travel agent that far outweigh any added cost for the agent’s commission. You can also talk to your potential customers (whether in person, at a travel event or via marketing channels) about how commissions work and when it’s the customer’s money and when it’s the vendor’s. People appreciate transparency.