Business Advice for Travel Agents

June 27th, 2018

A few months ago, an industry research was conducted and reports have found that there are more consumers nowadays who are inclined to use a good travel agent, reversing a downward trend.

Companies belonging to the offline agent industry are rejoicing for this good news and there are absolutely a lot of reasons to be optimistic. With almost no top young talent joining the industry and very low average annual incomes, the travel agent industry continues to be a challenge.

Part of my job as the CEO of Zicasso, is to find and act as a business coach for these top performers, partner with them, and make them even better performers.

I’ve put together a list of 20 useful tips and business owner advice which travel agents can utilize. This information is based on my interaction and analysis of thousands of interactions with travelers and travel specialists on Zicasso.

The concepts in the list are points every agent can take note of and apply. For a good travel agent to adapt and thrive in today’s environment, they need to understand that travelers want personalized attention, convenience on the internet, and good value for their money.

 

 

1. Specialize
Think of a few activities or destinations and make sure you are an expert at them compared to anyone else. With today’s technology, the information travelers need is right at their fingertips through the internet and they have become “generalist travel agents” themselves. When they ask for help, they are looking for a true specialist.

2. Personalize
Stand out from self-service online solutions or anything that has to do with DIY. Instead, provide customers with recommendations and personalized service right from the first time you interact with them – whether on the phone, online, or in person.

3. Create a list of unique experiences and special access
Focus on your selling experience. Add more uniqueness and value; the more special accesses you get to exclusive events, the more differentiated you are.

4. Be complex
You need to invest your energy on complex trips and you should also add this to your specialization. Consumers can easily book simple trips themselves, like point-to-point trips. However, they would need a travel agent for complex trips, like long trips to international destinations or cruises.

5. Move upmarket
Divide the travelers into different types. Travelers with more money, less time and travelers with more time, less money. Agents can only vie for the former division’s business. Travelers who have more money and less time appreciate buying a travel agent’s ability and expertise in handling every angle of the trip.

6. Instead of taking commission, work with net rates
Consider getting net rates from suppliers and marking them up instead of earning on a commission basis. This is especially for custom tours. Doing so lessens the hassle of collecting commission and gives better cash flow and pricing flexibility.

7. Do a self-check constantly
Change is constant, and more so in the travel agency industry. Ask yourself if you are delivering the best value. Are you offering competitive rates for your products and services? Do you have a number of strategies that will allow you to provide your clients with the most value?

8. Ace your pitch
If customers ask you to say something about yourself and your agency, have you perfected your pitch? They might also ask other questions, like “What makes you different from other travel agents?” You should know the top three messages in your pitch by heart and answer them with confidence.

9. Improve your “trusted advisor” sales skills
Since it is a consultative sales job, most agents aim to be perceived as a trusted advisor. Doing so can make an agent sell a lot more. Therefore, instead of focusing on the pushy sales skills, concentrate on the trust-building and relationship-building skills. Build that rapport!

10. Build up a trusted brand/reputation
Write up an article which will be featured in national media or at least the local newspaper can help in creating a band. Also join the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and have regular customers write a review on Google or Yelp, and endorsements on LinkedIn. Having positive reviews can help in building your reputation.

11. Own a good website
Even in this day and age, many agents have websites that do them a disservice. To be able to attract clients, your website needs to have three key things: eye-catching design, compelling content, and should be easy to update or maintain. Find a good developer who can create your dream website. The investment will be worth it.

12. Be very responsive and reachable
A smartphone will come in handy when people get in touch with you and you need to reply right away. You can respond to messages, email, and answer calls even when you are out of the office. Check out Google Voice which enables you to have one number that rings your mobile or landline.

13. Improve process efficiency
Most agents should grab the opportunity to be more effective and competent with great worker productivity in their operational processes. For instance, streamline the time to price a quote or develop a customer itinerary.

14. When you should ask for a fee
There is no rule book on when to specifically ask for any type of fee – whether it is a planning fee or good faith deposit. Trust your judgment on this.

15. Stay active on social media
Create a Facebook page for your travel business in order to have your clients post reviews of your services. You can also use the Facebook page to engage with new and regular clients as well as prospects. Let your page be about engaging with people, not just about selling. If you need an example, check the Zicasso Facebook page.

16. Collaborate to get new leads
If you are not a good marketer, you can use a travel referral service like Zicasso or hire a marketing agency to help you. Save yourself the time in advertising or brand marketing and focus on selling.

17. Get better in your writing skills
Most clients would rather communicate through email. If you are not very confident in your writing skills, take a class to improve. Doing so will also make you better in sales conversion. Remember that good writing helps build trust and relationship with clients.

18. Refine your first response to clients
Whether it is a phone call or an email, making a good first impression plays a major role in sales conversion. This means that the quality of your first interaction should be fascinating and must draw interest.

19. Sell expertise, not deals
Several agents use their website to advertise deals which also sends the message that they are able to find the best deals. It can be difficult to beat deals on the internet and going forward, it can only get tougher. Convert your message and business to sell expert advice and personalized service.

20. Be a lasting student of change
Over the years, this industry has tremendously changed and its pace will only accelerate. Be persistent when it comes to best practices and adopt new ways of doing things. Also, be ready to adapt to change no matter how long you’ve been in the industry.

I just have one more request from everyone – be a role model for the next generation of young agents as you achieve success. Hire, motivate, and guide them. This industry is in need of new recruits and the new generation will only join when they have observed successful role models. Follow these simple solutions for your business which will help guide you. I wish everyone great success in your continued business endeavors.

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The Rise of Plastic Surgery Tourism

June 25th, 2018

2015 witnessed a 12.6% ascent in plastic surgery procedures compared from 2014. This expansion is likely because of big names in the industry being more open about having medical procedures done, including Iggy Azalea and Kylie Jenner who have both confessed to going under the knife last year. Therefore, plastic surgery currently presents less shame, while in the past they would have been unmistakably secretive about their surgeries.

Different elements incorporate a rise in the utilization of online networking and the displaying of pictures, and additionally financial recuperation, implying that many can sustain the amount of these costly methods, and rivalry between specialists which brings down costs.

In spite of the fact that ladies comprise 91% of all cosmetic surgeries, the statistics of men are partaking are also increasing, with the total nearly multiplying in the previous decade to 4,614 surgeries done a year ago.

The leading 3 surgeries in the UK are breast enhancement, face and/or neck lift, and eyelid surgery. With men, however, the most frequently done are nose job (rhinoplasty), breast reduction and eyelid surgery.

 

Corrective tourism

There is a rise in “restorative tourism”, which indicates people traveling abroad for cosmetic procedures, as a highlight of their vacation and at the less expensive cost of cosmetic procedure abroad, even including their flight costs.

The quantity of Brits traveling to another country for surgery has ascended by a surprising 109% in the previous 2 years.

Numerous spots are getting to be well known for plastic surgery procedures, such as vaginal tightening surgery, like Brazil (which is developing quickly for corrective medical procedure, Brazilians occupy an astounding 10% of the total cosmetic surgeries done in the world). India, Turkey, North Africa (despite the fact that, the last two mentioned dropped a significant amount because of terrorism threats), and the Balkans.

In any case, for Brits, Central and Eastern Europe are the most known spots, because of their prime locations, less expensive flights and less expensive cost of restorative procedures.

In actuality, the Czech Republic noticed a 304% expansion in labiaplasty about a year ago. Be that as it may, cosmetic surgeries abroad isn’t without dangers, and ought not be taken lightly.

2 out of 5 specialists have observed a continuous ascent in issues from plastic surgeries abroad, with 60% of them seeing as much as a quarter of an expansion.

40% of specialists saw issues emerge from sub standardized facial injectable fillers done abroad, which could have been averted if they had only been prescribed. An analysis was completed on individuals from the British Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (BAAPS), and they announced a stressing increase of 25-35% in complexities abroad.

Surgery Centers abroad might not have similar strict standards and operations as the UK, where all specialists have to be GMC enrolled.

 

Restorative Procedure back home

Brits allocate a disturbing £8.2 million on having post-surgery adjustments in the UK, and a significant number of these are a consequence of surgeries abroad. Be that as it may, it is typically constantly better to return to the previous specialist, as they know about the patient and the previous operation.

“An important thing to consider is the post-surgery care. It is extremely distressing and difficult to locate a specialist who will take care of you once you’re back home, as they are not acquainted with your circumstances.” – Cosmetic vacationer, who had a nose job in Poland circa 2015.

“I am having correction surgery in the UK where in any event I can go back if there would be consequent issues, without a challenging and unpleasant 6 hour travel each time and all the dialect challenges and so on.” – Cosmetic traveler, who experienced bosom decrease in Czech Republic.

 

Pointers for traveling to another country for plastic surgery:

  • Stay away from sites offering cosmetic procedure as an aspect of a vacation.
  • Make sure  you talk to your specialist before undergoing any procedure.
  • Make sure you have a specific advisor with the specialist who will do the medical procedure.
  • Do not give your money to a clinic you haven’t yet looked at preceding the medical procedure.
  • Doctors ought to likewise guarantee you completely comprehend the process – the options, constraints and dangers included.
  • Surgeons ought to give you pointers on the most proficient method to recoup – including the do’s and don’ts.
  • You ought to be prescribed to come back to the clinic for evaluations, as a major aspect of the follow ups.

 

On the Contrary…

Not all encounters of traveling to another country for medical procedures are unfavorable. Plastic surgery, regardless if it’s done home or out of the country isn’t without dangers. However, gratefully, with the trade of data on the web, it is far less demanding to look into specialists and surgeries, and truly do your investigation before conferring. Numerous have had completely positive encounters doing medical procedure abroad.

“Completely splendid. I suggest to everybody to not be scared about the make believe “sub standard” because the quality is phenomenal. Furthermore, obviously, the amount of cash that you can spare.” – restorative vacationer who got a breast augmentation in the South Africa.

 

Brexit

Those in the business are pondering what the results of Brexit will be on plastic surgery procedure. The euro has a higher value than the pound, which implies traveling to another country can be more expensive for Britons. But, in the event that EU nationals will be limited from holding on the NHS, expecting lines may dwindle for people availing cosmetic procedures in the UK.

It appears that plastic surgery tourism has no indications of decreasing, especially as the caliber of wellbeing develops, the caliber of medical procedure is getting to be more reasonable. However, it is typical that while prices in the UK are expensive, Brits will even now think about flying off abroad to undergo surgery.

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