A long time ago there was a guy named Mort Kauffman who wrote a book and called himself “The Travel Agent’s Travel Agent.” The book was a step by step guide to being a travel agent. Well, I’m here to say my Mom was the Travel Agent’s Travel Agent. We went to Hawaii and she did hotel inspections. We went to Mexico and she did hotel inspections. She worked 70 hours a week making client’s vacation dreams come true. Many of us second generation travel people had dedicated parents like this. When I started in the family travel agency, I was immediately given the job of brochures. Now you have to understand that my Mom never met a brochure she didn’t like. So I had to take this job pretty serious. When I began selling tickets, I was only allowed to sell PSA tickets that they had in a coupon booklet. I recently stopped by my now 84 year old Mom’s for a visit. We started talking about how the travel business has changed. I told her that ARC required tickets to be voided the same day they were issued or they were live. She wondered if agents knew how to write tariffs and I told her that no because agents must auto-price a ticket or be liable for a debit memo. I told her how Expedia was courting agents now that Google Travel has become the big Elephant in the corner ready to crush the competition. We spoke about how the cruise industry had become a homogeneous group of mega-ships and were cutting agent commissions through higher non-commissionable portions of the fare. She just shook her head and asked how do Travel Agents make it today?
I told my Mom that the Internet while taking business away, has also allowed travel agents to specialize in a particular niche of the business. I told her that professional agents who were using social media like Facebook and Twitter to brand themselves niche travel experts were busier than ever. I spoke to her about how simple website SEO techniques allow the agents to get their web pages to rank high in the search engine return listings for specific keyword phrases. I told her that this allowed the agents to crafting the type of clients they did business with. They didn’t have run a bunch of expensive phone book and newspaper advertising.
The remarkable thing was that my 84 year old mother totally got it. She is always on Facebook with all the ex-Pan Am groups (she flew with Pan Am before I was born). She sees how people are using Facebook for business building. She also told me she never buys anything that she doesn’t go the Internet and search to see what other people have to say about it. I will say that we live in Silicon Valley and the Internet and high tech permeate this area. However, my trend setting Mom let me know that the seniors are just as wired as young people. In fact she’s right.
So I ask, what is your Internet strategy? Do you have a professional looking website stamped with YOUR personality, knowledge and experience about the type of travel you sell? With the ease of WordPress (FREE software) and the great looking templates available there is no excuse for not having an awesome website that you can manage on your own. Do you have a Blog, Twitter account and post on Facebook? Do you have a professional multi-channel web presence? If not, I ask how’s that working for you?
Enjoy the journey,