Increasingly travel sellers are turning to tour sales as a way to grow their bottom lines. Here’s advice for travel agents from leading tour operators on how to increase commission-rich tour sales in 2012.
#1 Learn about the tour product
Travel agents should learn about “the great value of tours, the wonderful assortment of destinations, including all the new destinations; departures and touring options,” said Brendan Tours president Nico Zenner.
Globus president and CEO Scott Nisbet urged agents to sign up for the tour companies’ complimentary training courses and webinars, “so they have all the tools they need to close the business.”
#2 Cross-sell past clients
Travel sellers should work their past customer files for new tour bookings, said Travcoa vice president and chief marketing officer Richard Genovese.
“In these times, it is difficult to find new business, but travel agents already have plenty of business in their offices,” he said.
The key is to get past clients to expand into new types of travel. The way to do that is to cross-sell tour and river cruise promotions to ocean cruisers and other international travelers, Nisbet said.
Reach out to past ocean cruisers and ask them if they want to really experience a destination they visited briefly on a cruise, advised Insight Vacations president Marc Kazlauskas.
#3 Stress value and ease of travel
Tours deliver incredible value, so agents should emphasize that, said Tauck Tours manager of corporate communications Tom Armstrong.
“With Tauck, for example, an independent traveler attempting to duplicate one of our itineraries on their own would spend as much as 40% more than they would traveling with us.”
Spending 40% less “makes a lot of sense in tough economic times,” said Globus’ Nisbet. Those kinds of savings are one reason why Nisbet expects that in 2012 many travelers will consider escorted tours for the first time.
The other factor driving first-timers: “They love the hassle-free aspect of touring and the plethora of immersive and cultural experiences touring affords them.”
#4 Tell clients about immersive experiences
“Ask clients if they want to experience the destination as a local would. Then present the tour as a way to experience the culture, food, history, architecture and people like no other holiday,” said Kazlauskas.
“Get clients to understand the incredible breadth of tours today,” advised Tauck’s Armstrong.
“For example, Tauck now has tours designed specifically for families, as well as small-group tours for active, inquisitive boomer-age travelers.”
#5 Use tour operator resources
Tour operators provide marketing and training resources, and travel agents should take advantage of them, tour executives said.
Collette Vacations vice president of sales Frank Marini noted that tour operators will help travel sellers with marketing, mailings and presentations that will help drive demand.