TORONTO — Just as travellers are aware – now more than ever – of the advantages of working with the right travel agent, so too are travel agents extremely focused on the advantages of working with the right suppliers.
And in a nice bit of ‘what goes around comes around’, many of those suppliers are happy to tell travellers why they should use a travel agent.
Case in point: AmaWaterways. Just a few weeks ago, as part of its Travel Advisor Appreciation Month campaign in May, the river cruise line sent out a marketing message telling consumers the Top 3 Reasons to Use a Travel Advisor.
‘Travel planning made easy’ was #1. ‘Tailor made travel’ was #2. And ‘They are your best advocate’ was #3.
It was a powerful pro-agent promotional piece and it was perfect timing, as travel restarted again in earnest.
Now those travellers on AmaWaterways’ mailing list know the benefits of booking with a travel agent. And we wondered, what tips does AmaWaterways have for agents as travel takes off?
Travelweek caught up with AmaWaterways’ Chief Marketing Officer, Janet Bava, asking her to share her ‘Top 3 Tips for Travel Advisors Right Now’.
Bava shared with us the following tips, plus she directed us (and Travelweek readers) to her marketing commentary from ‘The Strategic Travel Entrepreneur’ podcast hosted by Orlando-based travel advisor Rita M. Perez.
Agents can also learn more about AmaWaterways with two upcoming online events.
The company’s ‘20th Anniversary Webinar Wednesday’, taking place today, Wed. June 22, 2022, will include news about a special 20th anniversary offer for clients, along with a special incentive for agents. The webinar starts at 1:30 p.m. ET.
And on Thurs. June 30, 2022, AmaWaterways will host a 20th Anniversary ‘Sip & Sail’, starting at 1 p.m. ET.
Agents can register for both online events through AmaWaterways’ travel advisor portal.
No doubt AmaWaterways’ new 2023 Europe brochure, released today in print and online, will be front and centre during the webinars. The link to order a print copy or view and download the brochure is here.
TIP #1: MAXIMIZE COMMISSIONS
Bava says agents can maximize their commissions with offers like AmaWaterways’ all-inclusive packages including air from major gateways in Canada. “AmaWaterways’ MORE TO LOVE sale has been extended through June 30, 2022 and you earn full commission on the full package price starting at US$7,039,” says Bava. “This is a really powerful message, as air and land packages usually pay 5% on air and 12% on land package. With this promotion, advisors earn a minimum 15% on the total value of the sale and it includes options to upgrade to business and premium class seats.”
The MORE TO LOVE sale also includes the company’s Travel Waiver Plus, giving clients the peace of mind they need to reserve the limited time offer as it allows them to shift their dates and move their sailing date for any reason prior to 31 days to sail date. Here’s a video that shows the booking process: https://vimeo.com/679221399/
TIP #2: ATTRACT THE RIGHT CLIENTELE
Bava says agents can up their chances of attracting the right clientele through their social media channels, or enhance their email marketing and website content, by using AmaWaterways’ social media tool kits.
Designed for travel agents, the social media tool kits include customized posts/copy and images from the cruise line’s expansive media library. “Promote our unique experiences and offers, including our More to Love Sale,” says Bava. More information is here: https://www.
On that note, in her podcast with ‘The Strategic Travel Entrepreneur’ travel advisor Perez, Bava says she’s hearing that with such limited time, and with so many inquiries, agents are very focused on working only with clients that work for them.
“The common theme that I’m getting across the board is that [agents right now] are all focused on quality, not quantity. The demand for travel is increasing, and the phone calls are coming in, the questions are coming in, and we’re all very busy. So we have to make the right decisions to choose the types of business, and generate the right types of leads,” says Bava.
“Focus your limited time and energy on what will be most profitable for your business. We sometimes want to help everyone … but not having a focused strategy is not the right approach.”
Making the most of a lead also means personalizing your approach, adds Bava. When Perez asks Bava to name her most preferred marketing method, it’s not Instagram, or Facebook, or any particular social media product. It’s more of an approach – it’s one-to-one marketing.
“One-to-one marketing is all about understanding who you’re talking to, and personalizing the content to that one individual,” says Bava. “When you’re putting together your marketing materials, look at who you’re talking to, look at who you’re sending this out to. Be as personalized as you can. While it may take a little more time, it’s going to be way more effective.
Giving the example of an agent who’s looking to send out a promotional message to her email database, Bava says one-to-one marketing can be as simple as personalizing one message for clients who have never travelled with you, and another for returning clients.
TIP #3: HOST A GROUP
Group sales are stronger than ever at this point in the pandemic. “Host a group this year in Portugal during our newly announced late autumn and holiday sailings on the Douro River on the beautiful new ship AmaDuoro,” says Bava.
“Use our Portugal Toolkit and contact your BDM to host a virtual cruise event to help you sell this in-demand destination and offer exclusive offers and additional savings that will be made available to attendees of your event.”
Portugal is a beautiful destination during winter months as weather is not as frigid cold as other areas in Europe, she adds. “Your clients can also enjoy festive holiday activities onboard and shoreside.”
Can’t gather a group? This destination and itinerary is included in the MORE TO LOVE sale, says Bava.
In her podcast with Perez, Bava highlights how finding ways to connect with clients and their interests can be key for generating new business.
With the Portugal sailings, that could mean culinary, or wine, or any number of themes that so inclined clients might be into.
“Learn about the interests of your clients beyond just travel,” says Bava, noting that people picked up a lot of new hobbies during the pandemic, from cooking to gardening to music. And of course, a newfound appreciation for wine!
Also at this point in the pandemic, in-person networking is just as important, or maybe even more so, than ever. In this case, joining a local wine tasting club or cooking class could be just the ticket to more bookings for wine or culinary themed cruises.
“People have been at home for a very long time and they miss the social connection, they miss the one-to-one conversations. I think we all need to get out there and connect with our communities on a personal level,” says Bava.
“You want to go out there, network, generate leads, and then nurture those leads through your marketing programs – your emails, your social media. But you need a way to feed your marketing programs. And the way you do that is through networking. We talk a lot about marketing mix. Networking has to be part of everyone’s marketing mix. I think we underestimate the power of networking.”