Tom Lewis is a journey agent with Alliance Travel Partners, a Virtuoso associate (because of this they are part of a luxury travel agent consortium). While the general public of Lewis’ clients needs high-give up the journey, he can ebook something.
Lewis informed me approximately a examine that determined that only a very small percent of people below the age of 35 use tour retailers. He said the industry is baffled as to why younger humans aren’t the use of them and maximum journey sellers do not know how to reach us.
I called Tom this week to analyze why 20somethings (and even 30somethings) ought to suppose two times before reserving their subsequent experience online. Read the interview beneath, and be sure to comply with Tom on Twitter at @tomtravel2.
Emily Gerson: As a journey agent, do you work with 20somethings? Why would they need to use a tour agent?
Tom Lewis: We are high-cease tour sellers, but noticeably, I actually have pretty a few clients who’re of their 20s. Its been developing with the aid of word of mouth inside that organization. I’m 54, I have two daughters – one is 27 and one is 25. The 27-12 months-antique’s husband works for Wells Fargo and maximum of his friends are commercial enterprise majors, attorneys, and different young experts. Once I was given them hooked on my offerings, they started out referring me to their pals. People of their 20s are a technology that trusts their pals. That’s where this enterprise has achieved a poor process – getting its foot in the door. Once people use me, they get their friends to call me. It’s more personal.
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Certainly, if they’re just booking a flight from Phoenix to L.A., they don’t name me – it’s no longer cost-powerful. The gain I can provide them is that I do not simply e-book them a room in a charge class – you can try this on the Internet. If a young consumer calls me and they booked a room at Shutters in Santa Monica, I touch the control and allow them to understand they’re coming. They have a room in a sure category, but there’s a great chance they’ll get a room improve. There’s also an amazing threat they’ll get an amenity after they get to the room – maybe a bottle of Champaign, wine, or a fruit plate. With Virtuoso, if I’m booking a completely excessive-cease hotel, a variety of the ones things are assured. And it is the precise equal fee as you can book on travel websites.
Another gain that I’d emphasize is that booking your very own travel expenses your time. The average man or woman visits 27 websites earlier than they e-book so that you can collect statistics and examine costs. If you name or e-mail me, inside 15 minutes I can find the equal information. I can provide you with price and itinerary in cellphone calls. It’s so much easier.
EG: What are some of the maximum common misconceptions you spot amongst 20somethings with reference to travel dealers?
TL: The main one is that it is too high-priced. There are uncommon occasions whilst there are Internet specials we cant match, however approximately 95% of the time, that reasonably-priced fee you see on the Internet is the same one I’m seeing on my pc. And often, a tour agent can get you a better deal than what you’re seeing online. We can simply store them money. You retain the identical rate but are becoming a higher room and matters brought to it – it is a better deal. The belief is that it’s too steeply-priced, however, the fact is that it’s often more high-priced to use the Internet. The purpose I trust that the majority your age expect they must ebook on the Internet is they assume it is always cheaper.
The different misconception is that it’s no longer cool. The cool factor is to go online and e-book your personal journey. Do you think Ashton Kutcher books his personal tour? Do you observe Blake Lively books her own tour? No. The folks who 20somethings aspire to be – all of them use tour dealers.
EG: I’ve study numerous articles lately that stated journey retailers were making a return. Do you believe you studied that is real?
TL: The tide has honestly turned so that we’re starting to win back marketplace share. There are some motives for that. I’d inspire you to do a Twitter search for the names of large travel websites and sucks or #fail. You will see that there are a number of human beings are not happy with the carrier they get from these businesses. A recent survey said simplest 27% of people who ebook all tour on the Internet are glad or very happy with the method.
Nobody has accomplished survey like that on tour marketers, however as soon as we’ve gotten a consumer into our office and booked a journey for them and they’ve again, approximately 95% of them name us back. There’s a motive for that. We’re personable, it is non-public, we do anything we can to make sure that the purchaser is happy and has a great journey. With the Internet, you’re on your own. If something goes wrong, their customer service could be very bad. With us, in case you get to resort and it does not meet your expectations, we want you to call us. We won’t be capable of repairing it, however, possibilities are if we get at the cellphone with the control, we may be able to get you a better room. However, there are some travel dealers who’re much less expert and much less full-service, who are essentially taking orders, so that you can’t truly say that each one journey retailers do the identical aspect.
EG: If I was the use of a journey agent for the primary time, how do I recognize what to look for?
TL: Ask them if they offer service after the sale, so in other words, in case you display up at the hotel and that they show you in your room and it’s no longer what you believed you are becoming, will they intrude with the inn and attempt to get you a higher room?
I would additionally ask if the travel agent is networking. We spend a remarkable amount of time and strength meeting with resorts, motel income reps and executives, so whilst our clients visit that lodge we’ve established a relationship with that individual. Here’s an analogy; a very properly-networked travel agent would not understand the bouncer at the one of a kind membership you want to go into, however, they understand the person that made the listing. We can get you on the list, so whilst you display up you do not have to mention, “This room isn’t what I wanted” – you’ll get there and the room is the manner you wanted, and could possibly be higher than you predicted. We contact the humans and allow them to understand we have customers coming. Often we’ll have physically stayed at the lodge or executed a domain inspection. I can ask for a room insure a part of inn because I am aware of it will in shape my consumer higher.
Credentials and certifications aren’t a bad factor to look for as it indicates they have got taken the time to get educated, however now not it’s vital. To me it is more a remember of asking the agent, “What do you do to teach yourself? What sort of education do you do? Do you go to enterprise occasions?” I take training from cruise traces, excursion groups, lodge chains, and so on.
EG: What varieties of travels do you ebook for your more youthful clients?
TL: Most of my young clients do trips like urban lodge stays in California – it’s commonly pretty trustworthy. Many of them could have booked themselves, but I got them extras like room enhancements, unfastened extras, the bottle of wine upon showing up – things they wouldn’t have online. I booked a journey to Vancouver and Victoria for one couple and I mentioned a number of the sports they might do. I actually have additionally executed Hawaii and Mexico motel stays, though I plan to book greater complicated stays eventually. I’ve discovered that younger experts do not have much excursion time – most people I work with are looking greater to decompress than to go and spot the whole thing.