Today feels like a truly legendary day: the first sale in almost 3 months! With restrictions lifting, it feels great looking towards the future again!
We have had a lot of time to explore how we can do better, focusing on delivering quality over quantity, and authenticity over sales talks. Even the smallest improvements are going to make us better than we were before COVID-19.
So after this period of peace and quiet, this campervan sale relieves my worries and convinces me: “This is the start of the end of Covid 19”.
In my business, during the past months of “travel silence” or “hibernation”, I focused on bringing out the good from the bad. I looked closely at our old procedures and improved them.
Dot Travel (Dutchies Travel, Germans Travel, and co.) is ready for a new start: a fresh one and, more importantly, a better one. I can only hope that everyone in this boat, in this industry, will feel the same while reading the following points.
Before we talk about the future, let’s discuss a few of the scariest words of the industry: “Travel Agent”, “Commission” and “OTAs”.
Travel agents co-exist in both the retail space and online and promote / market products for operators. Travelers that care about their trip talk to a travel expert who actually has the knowledge of the market and the products. The agent is able to match the right product to the customer, so he or she has the trip of a lifetime and falls in love with Australia.
I like to remind everyone that commission is not a motivation, it’s a reward! It’s the service fee agents are getting paid to promote and sell an operator’s product, and the service fee the customer pays to receive help booking their trip. Agents are there for a reason: they are for people who need/want help!
We all think that OTAs are just online companies whose websites allow consumers to book various travel-related services online without them actually “having to do anything for it”. What we don’t realize is that OTAs actually spend immense amounts of money on development and marketing in order to promote and sell the products on their platform. They might sell it a different way and spend less physical effort, but they have the same costs as any other agent (if not more).
So after explaining these confusing and scary words, let’s see what we can do to change this industry for the better.
Let’s learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves and each other.
We have a lot of work to make Australia the best travel country again. Any of the following points could help:
- We are all damaged by the business decisions of some companies, but software systems are not your enemy! There’s a lot of work that goes into connecting the millions of booking software, reservations systems, upgrades, add-ons, accounting, and refunding. With the right regulations in place, these systems add true value to agents, operators, and travelers.
- The same counts for reservations systems. Having live availability makes everyone’s life easier. If you don’t have it yet, please get it. We live in 2020.
- Have a commission structure in place for agents. Reward, don’t motivate. Commission structures can be based on past sales and need to communicate clear steps on what an agent needs to do/reach in order to get a higher reward.
- Don’t be afraid of using OTAs. Those customers that do not like to book with a travel agent will book their travel direct. An OTA provides the system to do that, so the customer can “do it themselves” but still have the choice to “decide themselves”.
- Don’t devalue your product by the fear of missing out on customers, especially when considering summer/winter prices. We all know that fewer people are traveling in winter, but that doesn’t mean they need to pay less.
- If you want to compete, try to be different. Don’t fight with price and commissions. Focus on “Brand Humanity” and determine what your brand stands for. Communicating that message and finding a way to impart feelings into a product are all important ways that brands can set themselves apart from others. “Price is what you pay. Value is what you receive”.
- Run your company like a business owner, not like a traveler. If you need help, talk to an expert about regulations, cancelations, and contracts. Don’t just make them up and change them on the go. Now it’s more important than ever to build trust with customers as well as with new and old business partners.
COVID-19 has damaged not only the people in the travel industry but also its overall reputation. We can all do something about that together by asking ourselves:
“Where and how am I delivering value to my customers and to my partners?”
Make yourself better, don’t focus only on your commissions or your prices. The question shouldn’t be about price, it should be about delivering value to the customer. Communicate with your business relationships, be honest, and set clear goals.
Be proud of your product, be proud of your service!
A new future starts by ourselves, by looking at ourselves and not at others, because after all: if we are not willing to change our own habits, how can we expect someone else to change?
Written by Lisanna Weston – Entrepreneur on a mission