A panel of industry experts last night concluded that there is considerable scope in the marketplace for innovative and savvy travel agents.
Chaired by John McEwan, ABTA Chairman, the panel discussed and debated whether or not travel agents were ‘past their sell-by date’ at an event organised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing Travel Industry Group (CIMTIG).
Long time ABTA Member, Jackie Steadman, of Traveltime World, said that bookings in her business were buoyant due to her commitment to understanding her customers and providing added value services such as chauffeur driven limos to airports.
Other tips cited by the panel which included John Bevan, Laurence Hunt, Kathryn Bullock and Simon Beeching were that Agents needed to provide products and services that were not readily available on the internet such as expertise in niche areas. Building relationships with existing customers and getting involved in the local community were seen as good ways of penetrating the local market.
There was a strong suggestion that agents should be using the internet more and exploiting its huge potential. Another tip from Kathryn Bullock and John Bevan was that travel shops should sell themselves more with creative windows perhaps promoting a destination where they had expertise.
John McEwan commented, “We know from our data that although agents on the High Street may be fewer, other models of business are appearing such as going into partnership with supermarkets and home working. However, I believe and am delighted that the panel are of the same view, that there are endless opportunities out there for those agents who are providing excellent customer service, expertise and embrace technology.”