Despite online travel agencies dominating the market today, there’s another surprising yet strong contender in the race for market share. We are speaking about traditional travel agencies and independent travel agents.
There’s no arguing the fact that the last few years have been anything but tumultuous for traditional travel agents. The tech-savvy travelers of today began using OTAs to book their travel independently. However, recent data shows that there’s a huge reversal of this trend.
According to an industry report, the number of people using traditional travel agents rose from 12% in 2013 to 19% in 2016. These numbers are predicted to grow as travel agencies refine their offerings, and travelers seek new experiences and services not provided by OTAs.
As a travel agent, you can compete and win the stiff competition offered by OTAs, if you know what to do and when to do. Here are a few ways you can make your travel agency thrive in the era of online bookings.
1. Target a Particular Niche
Industry reports show that there is an increase in the demand for niche experiences. For instance, retired travellers prefer all-included luxury cruises, pilgrimage tours, while young families are on the lookout for family-friendly destinations.
Start by identifying your target audience and divide them into various niches. Then, refine and update your services to cater to the needs of various niche audiences. Here are a few audience niches that you can target: Millennials, corporate travelers, luxury travelers, solo travelers, female travelers, young families, senior travelers, pet-friendly travels and more.
2. Provide Customers with the Best Value for their Money
Though customers today can book several aspects of their travel itinerary on their own (hotels, flights, car rentals, activities, experiences), they are finding that it’s often cheaper to use a travel agent. Travel agents can do all these – faster, better and most importantly cheaper.
According to market research by the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), it was found that travelers were able to save an average of $452 per trip when they used a travel agent. So, make sure to highlight the savings you provide customers, in all your marketing efforts and increase your clientele.
3. Upgrade your Website and Work on SEO
Your website is the starting point for all client interactions. So, start by having a user-friendly, responsive and fast website. Include high-quality professional photographs and add proper functionality to make it easy to use and appealing.
Once you have got your website sorted out, the next step is to work on SEO. SEO techniques boost your organic rankings helping your agency get found online.
4. Engage with your Target Audience using Blogs and Social Networks
Irrespective of whether your clients are planning their next vacation or just dreaming about it, they would love to read more about travel experiences, tourist hotspots, unique vacation spots and more. Create a blog and update with regular content related to the travel industry. You can even invite your previous customers to share their travel experiences on your blog via guest posts. Use your social media channels to provide customers with regular, relevant travel content.
This way, you establish your brand as an authority in travel, getting your clients (existing and future) to trust you.
5. Offer Value-Added Services like Personalisation, Unique Experiences and more
Today’s travellers want to venture off the beaten track. The majority of travellers today are no longer interested in visiting regular crowded tourist spots. They are looking for new and unique experiences not available elsewhere.
To stand out from OTAs, refine your offering to provide customers with unique experiences. Local cooking classes, traditional handcraft making, food tours of local markets, guided walking tours – are some ways to attract customers with innovative experiences.
Innovate and Update your Offerings to Stand Out from OTAs
To thrive in the era of stiff competition from OTAs, you need to refine and upgrade your services and offerings constantly. Renovate your premises, expand your presence, hire additional staff, implement the latest technology – to retain existing clients and win new clients.
If a lack of funds is what’s holding you back, then check out specialized business loans for travel agencies from digital lenders like Indifi. Easy availability, quick funding, and flexible repayment – use these loans to race ahead of your competition.