Agents as Allies

laptop bookingAt Adventure Engine the term “agents” actually means any third party that might sell your tours or programs. But let’s start at the beginning and talk a bit about what first comes to mind, travel agents.

Upon the rise of the internet it was widely predicted that travel agents would become obsolete. With the rise of online agencies like Expedia and airline booking sites it seemed like this might be the case and there was a fairly large cut in the presence of brick and mortar agencies.  But since 2008, there has been a change and there are interesting facts being revealed.

First, according to an article by Covington Travel on their website, “Travel Agent Use is On the Rise”

“Reservations by travel agents actually account for one-third of the $284 billion U.S. travel market, according to a New York Times report. From Millennials to seniors, more travelers are giving up on DIY travel and seeking out the advice of expert travel advisors. In fact, according to ASTA, 41% of Millennials are making travel reservations through travel agents – more than any other age group. Online travel agencies are experiencing a year-over-year reduction in usage because travelers continue to find benefits in working with a live travel agent.”

But here is another interesting fact from the blog.Virtuoso.com website, “Affluent travelers in particular use travel advisors.”

“(Travel marketing company) MMGY has found that the percentage of affluent Americans who plan on booking trips through travel advisors is rising. It reported that 17% of Americans with incomes of $125,000 booked one or more trips with an advisor. And 24% of those making $250,000 or more used an advisor.

By next year, MMGY predicts that 21% of well-off travelers with incomes of $125,000 or more plan to use an advisor. And 29% of those with incomes of $250,000 or more plan to do so.”

Agent, advisor, consultant, counsellor, what ever you want to term them, they are potentially valuable team members in the sales channel. Retail agents don’t often book individual suppliers like rafting companies or day tours, but they do book them indirectly through local, national, or international operators or DMC’s.

DMC’s etc, are “agents” too, as far as Adventure Engine terminology goes. They are right in the middle and it would be a best practise for them to offer commissions to other “agents” downstream.

A last type of “agent” in Adventure Engine lingo are any local businesses that refer customers to other local tour providers. Hotels, b and b’s, visitor information centres, other operators are all examples. There is a brisk business selling day programs to cruise passengers through the cruise line. But don’t forget local travel agents if you are in a cruise port. They can target cruise passengers not willing to pay the cruise company’s markup and they offer better rates for buying locally. Several local travel agencies specialise in this business.

Regardless of how you go about it, getting referrals and bookings from your other local businesses is a very viable channel and it’s all available to set up very easily with Adventure Engine. Track bookings, take payments, and account for commissions, it’s all a part of the AE program.

Regardless of where you are in the supply chain, the agent functionality module can be very useful to help generate incremental sales.