The boom of e-commerce isn’t a mystery and it is easier than ever to take your business online. According to Matthew Davies Stockton, while online businesses are beating traditional businesses in most industries, the travel agencies still have a significant edge over online travel sites. Let’s look at what online travel sites can learn from traditional travel agencies:
1. Curated Experience – Unlike the sale of most services and products, people behave differently when they look for a travel package. They don’t want to enter a travel agency for the shortest amount of time and choose one of the packages available on the shelf. Instead, they want to talk with a travel agent so that they can list out their requirements and get a curated plan personalized for them. Online travel sites haven’t been able to deliver a similar level of personal attention to their customers.
Instead, travel sites need to adapt to the changing demands of customers with a dedicated team of travel advisors. There’s no need for extensive addition of manpower since the advisors can talk with numerous customers online and address their needs to create customized profiles for them. This data can then be used by the travel sites to implement the fine-tuning that makes great existing packages perfect. Combine that with a loyalty program and there is a huge potential for increasing revenue.
2. Exclusivity – Travel agents know how to get their customers the things they can’t get through an online deal. Even if a few travel agents can’t provide that, the industry-wide reputation maintains the perception in the minds of customers about the exclusive perks they may get from traditional travel agents.
Travel sites need to integrate exclusivity in their packages. You can browse hundreds of websites for cheap flight tickets, amazing accommodation at affordable rates, and restaurant reservations. However, you can’t get a special meet and greet with chefs, backstage passes to a concert, and early access to upcoming events. Usually, consumers need to dish out extra cash for these exclusive privileges. However, travel agents can arrange this in your package and bring down the total cost.
3. Surprise and Inspiration – Most travel sites have a clear format. You enter the destination, the duration of your travel, and other basic information for a package. However, sometimes that’s not enough. People often don’t know what they want and may ask you to surprise them. Travel sites fail to deliver during such cases.
A travel agent on the other hand can turn your loose idea of a dream vacation into a concrete vacation package. They know how to ask the right questions to guide, inspire, and narrow down your travel plans. The present solution adopted by travel sites in a small quiz that looks shallow and profit driven. On the other hand, travel agents seem to take a genuine interest in your vacation and can turn your confusion into inspiration.
Matthew Davies Stockton believes that travel sites should learn from their traditional peers and look into the past to succeed in the future.