A travel advisor’s greatest competition to consumer doubts is themselves. In the proliferation of the “do it yourself” world it is easy to forget the worth that the client receives from a knowledgeable travel advisor. Every day an advisor deals with some form of objection during the selling process, how does this relate overall to doubts consumers may have about booking their travel with a professional travel advisor?
"It’s cheaper to book online."
The listed price online may look cheaper at first, but once the fine print, terms & conditions and final booking price are revealed, suddenly that real cheap price disappears. Many "do it yourself" bookers rarely read terms & conditions, which can cause headaches and additional fees later. An advisor understands and interprets hidden costs and the implications of this part of the booking process; even if the consumer reads the terms, they may not interpret them properly.
"It’s easy to book online."
Consumers booking online often do so with a total belief in the product. If it shows it must be ok. For example, a consumer may pay a low price for their family’s flight but then miss their connecting flight due to a tight connection time. This could result in an unexpected camp out at an airport terminal including unplanned expenses for meals and accommodation or even a loss of vacation days. A knowledgeable travel advisor knows that certain airports require longer connection times even if “legally” a one hour connection is allowed. They know the time it takes to change terminals and how this impacts on the connecting flight requirements, especially in high season travel. While it may appear easy to book online, the devil can be in the details!
"If I book direct with a supplier I am getting the best information."
Consumers often buy direct thru suppliers due to a perception of expertise. When looking for a specialized service, for example a safari – then visiting a website dedicated to safari options provides them with a wealth of knowledge and speaks exactly to what the client is looking for. How can a travel advisor compete with that? This is where “all possibilities covered” comes in. Supplier specific buying sites/brochures/call centres only list options from certain vendors or destinations which may rule out a more advantageous travel choice that could work well for the client’s budget or timelines. Suppliers do not recommend their competitor. An advisor is not limited to one supplier, they can recommend another product, destination or service if it is a greater match for the client wish list.
"I can do it faster myself."
Many hours can be spent researching a destination, including reading online reviews. An experienced advisor can help steer clients towards their ultimate wish list. With conflicting information online, it’s easy to quickly get overwhelmed and confused. Often advisors have the answers to perplexing questions at their fingertips due to years of experience. If a traveller has detailed questions or needs to plan a complicated itinerary, an advisor can do all the work for them in far less time.
"Nothing ever happens to me when I travel – I don’t need insurance or someone else to book for me."
No matter how much a traveller prepares, sometimes unexpected “stuff” happens. When consumers book with a travel advisor, that advisor is with them every step of the way and becomes the client’s personal advocate. If there are any issues the advisor can usually fix the situation so a client doesn’t have to waste valuable vacation time problem solving. A knowledgeable advisor knows who to call and how to ask for the right solutions often exceeding a client’s expectations. In the unfortunate circumstance that a client needs to make a travel insurance claim, the advisor continues to work on behalf of the traveller to ensure any problems are solved to the client’s satisfaction.
This piece was brought to you by Air Canada, as part of the airline’s ongoing efforts to support travel agents. ACTA members click here to access Air Canada’s ACTA Training program for agencies.