Agents Urged to ‘Go Guerrilla’ to Fight Negative Pressby Stephanie Lee /
Agents, don’t freak out. CNN.com recently reported that travel agents are dying.
No, seriously, you guys, don’t freak out.
CNN’s article is not another Woman’s Day article. That said, it’s not a pro-travel agent fluff piece either. It’s a fair piece that hasn’t discounted us entirely, but . . . well, let’s say the reporter probably wouldn’t choose us to be on her kickball team.
Let’s change that.
Think before reacting
If you haven’t already read the CNN piece, you should do so – but read it carefully.
You probably won’t like the headline: “The Travel Agent Is Dying, But It's Not Yet Dead.” But please, take a step back. When it comes down to it, the author got most of her facts right. It’s a balanced piece of journalism.
The truth is, the CNN reporter is not the only one who thinks we’re dying. A lot of people do. Travel agents have a serious image problem and that needs to change if we want to have a prosperous future.
I’m writing this because I want the travel agent community to think before issuing an outcry to – before we scream at a journalist who, quite honestly, reported nothing I’d disagree with, telling her that travel agents are valuable and not dying and how dare she say otherwise?!
That’s counterproductive to what we need and want. We need to be taken seriously. We need to be seen as in touch with reality and in touch with the role we play in the world of travel today.
The CNN reporter ends the article by asking readers to tell her in the comments section whether they prefer to book with an agent or online – and why.
We need to mobilize and take advantage of the free press CNN just offered us.
Please, please, please, let’s not respond with defensive comments that make us sound bitter and out of touch. The Woman’s Day article deserved public chastisement. It was an absurd article. This one isn’t.
The CNN reporter wrote intelligently and did her research. So, let’s engage in a positive conversation.
As travel agents, we can talk about our value until we’re blue in the face. But if agents are the only ones tooting our horn in the comments to the CNN article, it’d be hard to miss the irony of that.
Let’ s avoid the temptation to write about our value in the comments section. What if, instead, every agent asked one or two of their top clients to comment on the article and share their experience of using a travel agent?
My entire business model at Host Agency Reviews is based on the fact that people don’t want a hard sell; they want to hear about other people’s experiences in a genuine way. It works.
Asking your clients to comment on the CNN article about their experiences using a travel agent is the most effective thing we can do.
Let your clients speak for you. Reach out to a few of your favorite clients and ask them to share why they use you instead of booking online. Or have them recall a time when you saved them money or helped iron out problems.
Let’s not tell them our value. Let’s have our clients show them by sharing their experiences.
As an industry, we need a marketing campaign to turn around the public’s perception of agents. We just don’t have the funds to do it traditionally. We need to go guerrilla-style, people.
Go get ‘em, tigers.
Stephanie Lee is the founder of Host Agency ReviewsSM, which features agent reviews of host agencies and tips for starting and growing a travel agency. You can read the original version of Stephanie Lee’s commentary about the CNN article on her blog. Connect with Steph on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.