German travel agents should counter the bookings decline with more active sales and marketing, urges fvw’s Rita Münck.
It's crazy. Germans want to travel as much as ever and are ready to spend on their holidays. But it's quiet in the country's travel agencies. Customers are staying away, many are still delaying their holiday planning and don't know where to go. As a result, a depressed mood is spreading slowly but surely amongst counter staff, even though tour operators say that demand for holidays is rising.
This is the big chance for travel agents. Their clients want to travel but because of the general worries in many destinations they don't really know where to go. This is where travel agents have to step in and make precise offers. After all, as agency chiefs repeatedly declare, no one knows the travel wishes, budgets and preferences of customers better than the local agencies.
Sales staff should use this knowledge and actively address clients. There are plenty of methods, many of them quite simple. The top priority is always to respond openly to customer wishes. Whoever passes on their own insecurity to clients won't sell anything.
What might work? A mailing to regular clients who haven't booked anything yet should convince some of them. Calling up Turkey holidaymakers who are still hesitating can help to start a discussion. After all, it's the basic job of travel salespersons to know what the local situation is like and, for example, to explain how far the beach hotels are from Istanbul or Ankara. Counter staff can step outside, set up a table, hand out some giveaways and ask everyone who takes one: “Have you booked your holiday for 2016 yet?”
In other words, it's time to be creative. And with their personal communications and advice they can position themselves above the Expedias of this world. After all, they have much more to offer. The portfolio of a travel agency goes far beyond of just traditional tour operator holidays. Families can be addressed with holiday apartments or a campervan tour in Scandinavia or southern Europe, for example. Couples can be advised about long-haul destinations or cultural trips.
There are always alternatives. Travel agents have to re-think anyway these days in competition with online retailers. Whoever starts now will secure his or her future. One thing's certain. In times of crisis, the services of travel agents are in higher demand than ever before.