Gonchar: Agents Should Take Millennials ‘Very Seriously’
by Marilee Crocker

Adapting to changes in today’s travel consumers – including who they are, how they buy and what they need and want from travel advisors – is critical to the continued success of retail travel sellers.

That was a key message that American Express Travel executives drove home to travel advisors attending the 2013 National Summit of the U.S. Representative Travel Network in Nashville this week.

In particular, agents should keep a close eye on the millennial generation. “Take them very very seriously,” said vice president Tony Gonchar during the opening general session on Sunday.

Why millennials matter
The millennial generation, born between 1980 and 1999, embodies the “combination of changing purchase behaviors, shifting demographics and multiculturalism” that characterizes the emerging marketplace, he said.

“This group is the country's largest cohort – already larger than the baby boomer generation. Worldwide they account for 20% of all travel spend, and 40% of them are multicultural.”

Understanding the increasingly multicultural nature of the population is also critical, Gonchar said. He noted that by 2042 minorities will constitute the majority of the U.S. population.

“This is much more than just demographics. It’s about individual lifestyles that are greatly influenced by strong ties to cultural backgrounds.

“There is no one size fits all approach to selling travel to multicultural audiences,” Gonchar said.

Purchasing behavior
Gonchar also pointed to fundamental changes in how consumers purchase products and services. “We’ve moved from a linear purchase process – buyer and seller, usually face to face – to what we call a customer-decision journey.

“Your customers have become digital omnivores, consuming information from multiple devices 24 hours a day across hundreds, even thousands, of sources,” Gonchar said.

As a side note, Gonchar predicted that the demise of the traditional travel brochure. “You can pretty much say that video will kill the travel brochure over the next few years, as consumers march online for dynamic, instantly updated resources to plan their travel experience.”

Advice for agents
How should travel advisors respond to these changes? Gonchar shared four suggestions.

#1. “Know who you're selling to.”

“Whether it's a millennial who knows it all and is looking for instant validation of their own research or a multigenerational Hispanic family looking to celebrate a quinceañera on a cruise ship, it pays to know your customers deeply, so you can probe and understand their specific demographic and social needs,” he said.
 
#2. “Know what you’re selling better than your customers.”

“Travelers want to be the foreign locals when they arrive at a destination,” Gonchar said. “The tools to enable them to do this are here, allowing instant familiarization with a location, right down to a neighborhood.

“So how are you getting this information ahead of your customers, demonstrating that you know it better than they do?” he asked.

#3. “Be accountable.”

“Shoppers will continue to be concerned about trust and transparency, just as they are going to continue to seek simplified lives and great value from their travel advisor relationship,” he said.

This calls on agents to “be the travel advisor who provides consultancy services on deep travel experiences,” he said. “Give them something they can’t Google.”

#4. “Never be afraid to ask.”

Ask for the upsell and for referrals of new clients, Gonchar advised. “You might be amazed at what happens.”

  0
  0
Comment:
You must be logged in to leave a comment Login | Register
Tip of the Day

Millennials are using travel agents because they are taking some involved vacations. More of what I hear is they are afraid of being ripped off and there are just too many places to get information.

 

Steve Cohen
Vice President, Research & Insights at MMGY Global

Daily Top List

Best Off-the-Grid Places To Visit Fourth Of July Weekend

1. Northwest Montana

2. New Castle, Pa.

3. Union, Wash.

4. Bryson City, N.C.

5. Put-in-Bay, Ohio

Source: Time

Top Stories
Attention Travel Agents: Americans Still Love You!
Attention Travel Agents: Americans Still Love You!

The number of Americans planning to use a travel agent rose almost 50% in MMGY Global’s annual Portrait of American Travelers—and one in four Millennials will be calling you in the next two years.

Six Ideas For Better Supplier Negotiations
Six Ideas For Better Supplier Negotiations

Industry veterans Gary Pollard and Brian Robb lay the groundwork for mutually beneficial negotiating strategies.

Travel Agents React to Brexit
Travel Agents React to Brexit

‘Travel is in fact a necessity for business travelers and is a wonderful part of exploring life for leisure travelers. The British pound is at its lowest level since 1985!  Britain is on sale! Travel now,’ says Valerie Wilson Travel co-president Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg.
 

Seven Ways To Master Client Engagement
Seven Ways To Master Client Engagement

Today agencies are harkening back to the days when they looked at their clients through the eyes of human beings, not computers, in order to communicate, connect, and get involved.  

America: Land of the Super Rich, From Sea To Shining Sea
America: Land of the Super Rich, From Sea To Shining Sea

Luxury brands are turning their focus back to the United States after nearly a decade of adoration for the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and other high-growth economies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Brexit: Three Things That Could Happen To Travel If The U.K. Leaves The European Union
Brexit: Three Things That Could Happen To Travel If The U.K. Leaves The European Union

Voters in the U.K. will decide to stay or leave the E.U. on Thursday. 

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Travel Market Report Spotlight: Celebrity Cocktails