By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

People are traveling again – and in force! Many vendors are reporting record-breaking booking days. Overall, availability is down, and prices are up! On the face of it, you might think that this is bad for a travel agent’s business, but I’d like to argue that it is really a good thing.

First, reduced availability means it isn’t as easy for a consumer to book their own travel. They will struggle more to find what they are looking for and frequently run into dead ends – which can lead them to seek out a professional for help.

Next, increased pricing not only means that you earn more money in commission (since it is a percentage of the total price), but it also means that travelers might seek out a professional to help them navigate this.

Finally, the combination of the two will lead to consumer frustration, and that is often when they seek out guidance.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see travelers frustrated, but I do want to see them use the services of a skilled travel professional.

The question for a travel advisor is, “How can I ensure this situation benefits me?”

First and foremost is to make sure that your network knows that you are ready to assist.

Make sure your clients know that you have access to resources they don’t. If a traveler has never worked with a travel advisor before, then they aren’t going to know the benefits of doing so. It is your job to educate them.

One of the best ways to do this is to tell stories of how you have helped clients. For instance, my travel advisor (yes, I have one too!) booked my flights to London that allowed me to fly business class cheaper than I could have booked economy on my own!

There are quite a few ways that you can get this message out. The first that comes to mind is through a regular email. If you have read my articles for a while, you know I am a big fan of the weekly email newsletter (or “ezine” as some call it) to develop know, like, and trust with clients. This is NOT a salesy piece that promotes vendor offers or deals but is instead informative about travel. It educates and inspires the reader.

Another is using your social media platforms. Don’t use those posts to promote deals or vendors, but to tell the story of what you can do. Most importantly, drive them to your website to sign up for your weekly email!

If you don’t have any of these resources in place, here’s a quick way to take advantage of our current climate. Reach out to any clients that you’ve worked with in the past but aren’t currently booked. Make sure they know they need to get booked as early as possible. They may think since we haven’t traveled in a long time that travel is dirt cheap right now. You will need to help them understand the current travel market and how you can help them get the most for their vacation dollar.

After you have reached out to previous clients, reach out to those who are on your prospect list.

Remember, the communication does not need to be pushy. It just needs to educate. Make it conversational as if you were talking with someone at a social gathering.

So often, I hear from advisors that they don’t want to be seen as a “pushy salesman” to clients. Look at it from the client’s point of view: if you don’t ever reach out to them, they assume you aren’t interested in doing business with them. That is not what you want to convey.

Remember, you are the expert here. People will appreciate you sharing your wisdom with them! If they don’t, they can unsubscribe. Everyone isn’t your client, but those that are your client need to hear from you, and they certainly need your expertise and guidance right now!