New Tech is Your Secret Weapon
It’s easy to lose a “connection” when it comes to technology. While efficient, it can come off as cold and distant. It’s one of the reasons why your clients came to you in the first place — they wanted a friendly face to guide them on their journey then, say, Alexa, Siri, or Google. But as the times evolve and technology becomes more prevalent, adopting it into your business will be inevitable. Don’t fear — this is a good thing. Adopting new technology pushes you ahead of the curve and differentiates (you) from the rest. And that’s a great thing.
AI is Here
You use it every day, whether you know it or not. It’s when you type in “restaurants” into your phone and it suggest places in your area or ones you’ve already been to. AI is the technology that takes all your past decisions — searches, bookings, comments, Facebook likes — and offers you the next best decision. That’s what your clients are looking for. Your role as a travel agent is to be just as efficient as an OTA but deliver it with the human touch they’re expecting.
AI, or artificial intelligence, empowers you to recommend the right destinations, create the perfect packages, and manage or anticipate any trip needs. All booking engines are backed by AI as well as tools like CRMs and itinerary builders. Incorporating AI technology makes you more efficient and reliable to your clients. However, your strength lies in the personalization. The information you’re putting into a booking engine or CRM is the result of the relationship you’re fostering with them. If they wanted a quick and impersonal point-and-click experience, they would’ve gone to any OTA website.
In an article for Travel Agent Central, Jennifer Wesley, head of travel for Google, said, “The agents that will succeed are the agents that can digitize that experience.” We whole-heartedly agree.
If you’re nervous about jumping into the tech world, don’t be. Here are some simple ways to incorporate technology into your business:
1. Use video
You’ve hyped up a destination or cruise for your clients and your enthusiasm has them interested. Seal the deal with video. Get them excited by showing videos of what they can expect. Most suppliers and a few host agencies — like the one that sponsored this blog — have a video marketing hub that you can share with your clients. They’re easy to download and send to your clients as a “thought of you when I saw this, let me know if you’re interested.” We’re willing to bet 9 times out of 10, they’re hooked.
2. Interact with your clients on Social Media
Instead of avoiding social media, dive right in, the water is fine. Simple tasks you can do to interact with your clients or potential customers are:
- Post captivating pictures and video
- Comment on their pictures as their traveling
- Create surveys and polls
- Use hashtags
- Strategically boost your posts
Take it up a notch by documenting your day online. Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur and social media pioneer, produces daily vlogs on YouTube and Snapchat, showing his followers what he’s up to that day. He’s differentiated himself by simply sharing behind-the-scenes footage in client meetings, phone conversations, and random interactions on the street. Oh, and he shows off his expertise by injecting words of advice, at random. He has no competitors.
3. Segment your audience and personalize it
No one likes to be bombarded with emails, especially those that don’t cater to your interests. Segment, or separate, your email audience by location, interests, hobbies, etc. Do this to ensure the right content and promos are going to the right clients. This will increase the likelihood your readers will interact with what you’re sending.
Don’t stop there. Personalizing emails — just add their name — will make all the difference. Thanks to current technology, you don’t have to painstakingly send one email at a time to personalize it. Most email marketing platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Emma will do that for you.
You’re more than just a travel agent. You’re a travel agency owner, so it’s your job to go beyond booking travel. Your success lies in how well you can differentiate yourself from the oversaturated market. Technology helps you do that. Getting involved with video and social media, personalizing your emails, incorporating AI – all these tools help you weave the perfect vacation and experience for your clients.
This isn’t out of reach for you. It’s about partnering with the right host agency, consortia, or tech company that understands what’s need for the future and for the right now.
At Travel Planners International, you’re more than just an independent contractor, you’re a small business owner. For the last 30 years, we’ve believed in, guided, and championed for the travel agency owner – and we have no intention of stopping. So, along with competitive commission plans, profit-generating marketing programs, and access to cutting-edge technology, we give emerging entrepreneurs the tools, guidance, and confidence to be successful and to harness their entrepreneurial spirit. But don’t just take our word for it. Visit travelplannersinternational.com and let’s get you where you want to be!