Strategic use of his travel agent profile on ASTA’s Travelsense.org, including consistent updates and a targeted approach to specialty listings, regularly lands new client bookings for S. Nathan DePetris, MCC, CTA.
But one booking in particular stands out for the owner and COO of PRIDE Travel in San Pedro, Calif. – a $40,000 scuba diving vacation for two to Australia.
Any travel seller can have the same success with the agent locator on Travelsense, ASTA’s consumer-facing website, DePetris told Travel Market Report. All you have to do is put a little effort into it.
“I’m probably a lot more hands on with my Travelsense page than most agents, but I find that it works well.”
By regularly re-visiting Travelsense and making changes, travel agents can turn their listings into a “power tool” rather than just a static landing page with basic information, he explained.
Lead generation tool
Travelsense’s agent locator, available only to ASTA members, allows consumers to find travel agents by location and/or specialty. For Deptris, the agent locator is an effective lead generation tool, he said.
“Travelsense was actually one of the main factors in our consideration for joining ASTA,” DePetris said. “It’s a really great benefit [of belonging to ASTA] that I think agents need to take advantage of.”
“One of the great things about Travelsense is that it really does send you pre-qualified clients,” De Petris added.
Because prospects have already done some research – both on the type of travel they want and on agents who are experts in that type of travel – they are more likely to go forward with a booking. Plus, they’ve already narrowed down their search for agents by cross-referencing expertise in a geographic area with expertise in a type of travel.
The quality of prospects delivered by Travelsense is higher as well, DePetris said. In other words, price shoppers aren’t spending time on Travelsense.
“They’re people who are themselves members of other professional organizations, and they understand the benefit of going to a professional organization for assistance in finding a vacation.”
Converting inquiries to bookings
On average, PRIDE Travel receives 30 to 40 calls a year from prospects who find the agency on Travelsense. Of those, 10 to 12 convert into bookings.
Though the conversion rate is not spectacularly high, the average spend of the clients who do book is higher, DePetris added.
“They tend to be professionals in their mid-40s to 50s and they are not averse to paying consultation fees.”
The $40,000 booking
DePetris’ biggest Travelsense success story was a two-week scuba diving vacation to Australia, for two, booked in late 2010.
When the client searched on Google for travel agents with expertise in scuba diving, one of the results was the Travelsense agent locator. She then filtering her search to include only agents who specialized in Australia and scuba diving, thereby narrowing the possibilities down.
“She saw my picture on my profile and said I looked like a nice individual, so she called me.”
The initial call eventually yielded a $40,000 dive trip to the east coast of Australia for the client and her son It included air, transfers, accommodations, scuba excursions, day tours, train rides and more.