With the looming threat of direct booking sites and online booking providers, travel agents need to be able to clearly articulate the advantages consumers get when they work with a travel consultant.
Today, many travel consultants align themselves with a consortium to help them manage some of the pieces. A consortium is an organization made up of independent travel consultants and agencies that offers access to benefits like marketing assistance, technology and tools, and ongoing training.
One such consortium is Signature Travel Network. Consortium’s philosophy is to stay in the background and let the agency/consultant own the client relationship.
Staying in the background involves implementing complex technology that allows the travel agency member to maintain their own branding.
Members have access to technology that allows them to record client information and preferences, which all feeds back into a consolidated database. That information is updated each day via a database sync. All communications are also 100% agency branded.
Booking giants have the advantage of significant data and automation capabilities.
Travel consultants have the opportunity to capitalize on a vast database of consumer information and send marketing messages to potential clients who may be interested in, say cruising. From there they can send relevant deals about a specific destination that is of interest to the client.
It may be true that travel booking sites are taking market share from travel consultants, the service they offer will always be in demand. That service comes back to one thing: the human element.