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
In the rare event of a circumstance requiring attention, no matter the scale, we will keep them fully informed and agents can be confident that we are with their clients all the way, taking care of all the details and making certain they feel at ease.
 
Phil Cappelli
President, Insight
Daily Top List

Highest Ranked Airports for Getting to the Terminal (Large-Hub)

1. Salt Lake City International (87.8%)

2. Tampa International (82.1%)

3. Charlotte/Douglas International (78.9%)

4. Denver International (77%)

5. Orlando International (76.8%)

Source: Phoenix Marketing International 

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
An ASTA/NACTA Timeline

How well do you know the history of our two organizations?

Zane Kerby: Reaching Out To Consumers
Zane Kerby: Reaching Out To Consumers

Travel Market Report and ASTA president Zane Kirby spent some time chatting about themes that he will be addressing throughout ASTA Global this week.

Sneak Peek At Sabre Red Workspace
Sneak Peek At Sabre Red Workspace

Sean Menke, president of Sabre Travel Network, introduced the new desktop at Sabre’s Travel Technology Exchange in June, calling it “a great enabler” of airline merchandising.

ASTA Global Convention Puts Reno In The Spotlight
ASTA Global Convention Puts Reno In The Spotlight

The Biggest Little City in the World is seizing the opportunity to show agents all it has to offer, from stunning vistas to historical sites, first-hand.  

United’s Dave Hilfman To MC Advocacy Dinner
United’s Dave Hilfman To MC Advocacy Dinner

The travel agency channel delivers the majority of our revenues and the highest margins. 

John Haskins Keeps A Focus On Capitol Improvements
John Haskins Keeps A Focus On Capitol Improvements

In a hyper-charged election year, everyone has a political opinion.

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