Travel agents are first and foremost differentiated from other sellers of travel by their relationships. “Anything they can do to continually build relationships with consumers and partners is what is most important,” says Morris Chia, President & CEO, TPI in this edition of Friday 5.
It’s no secret that it’s been a rough year in the travel industry. What are your agents saying about the challenges of selling travel nowadays, and what tips are you giving them on how to meet these challenges?
“Our advisors understand that the travel business is almost constantly in a state of flux. A successful advisor won’t be deterred or taken off course by changes outside of their control. We work with our advisors to ensure that during times of uncertainty they must focus on areas they can control – such as retention through customer service, controlling costs, and increasing margins through higher-margin product options and improving insurance conversion.”
What was the turnout like for the recent TPI Summit, and what feedback did you get from agents?
“Turnout was fantastic at 350+ travel advisors and preferred partners. The feedback from our advisors was the highest we’ve ever received in the history of the TPI Summit.”
In your opinion, what is the single most important thing travel agents can do today to improve their business?
“Travel advisors are first and foremost differentiated from other sellers of travel by their relationships. Anything they can do to continually build relationships with consumers and partners is what is most important – be it connections through social media, industry events, etc.
“Second, it is about working smarter, not harder. Our focus this year has been helping our advisors improve and increase their commission revenue while not necessarily increasing their sales, and to review their client mix to understand where to focus and grow their business as Paretto’s 80/20 rule is always at work.
“It’s obviously smarter to focus on increasing the customers in the 20% category that typically drive 80% of the revenue!”
In your opinion, what is one common mistake that most agents do that’s counter-productive?
“One of the most common mistakes travel advisors make is assuming that their clients won’t pay for their service. A travel advisor should never assume that a consumer won’t pay for this value. The travel advisor provides a professional service – just like a financial adviser or realtor – and as such is entitled to being recognized and remunerated as one.”
What’s new for TPI in 2016 and beyond?
“TPI is in a strong position to continuing to grow its revenue through products such as insurance, cruise, and FIT – particularly with Virtuoso partners. TPI, corporately, is continuing its successful focus on assisting its advisors improving their margins by selling more of these types of products.
“We continuously review our service offering for improvements to our advisor network in all areas of our business and in Q4/16 we will be introducing industry-leading technology to our advisor network.
“Additionally, at our annual AGM held in June, we unveiled to our team members our ‘Blueprint for Growth’. It will be an exciting year ahead for TPI!”