Travel agents sought for Skype video call directory

See Your Travel Agent homepageTravel start-up is looking to harness Skype’s video call technology to help specialist agents forge face-to-face relationships with clients.

Due to officially launch in September, the site is currently recruiting travel agents to its listing of specialists in various sectors.

The brainchild of Geoff Monk, a Global Travel Group homeworker who specialises in escorted tours, the site looks to combine the power of the internet with the personal touch of a traditional agent. Monk claimed it is a first in the travel industry.

He hopes to have 100 agents signed up by the September launch date, and will personally vet all applicants to make sure they are true experts. Currently 10 other Global members have signed up.

Agents will be charged per lead each time a customer clicks to see their details or makes a Skype call. They will also be able to pre-purchase clicks to manage their spend and presence on the site.

“The idea came out of my own experience using Skype,” said Monk. “Because of what I do I have spoken to people round the world, initially by phone but increasingly via video.

“I have got tens of thousands of pounds worth of business out of it but I cannot possibly compete in every travel category. I can’t be a virtual call centre for everything.

“In the future every agent should have a Skype link on their website. You want that face-to-face contact. The telephone is great but there’s nothing quite like being able to see who you’re talking to.”

Monk said listed agents will be encouraged to upload a video profile and as much information about themselves as possible to make the site attractive to search engines.

“It’s very hard to market yourself online these days, so this uses the powers of numbers to bring agents together in one place where the customer can find exactly what they are looking for rather than sites trying to sell them everything,” said Monk.

With Google increasingly prioritising video and Skype both integrating with social networking sites such as Facebook and offering services through web-enabled television, Monk believes it is only a matter of time before it becomes commonly used by customers.

He expects to particularly suit fellow homeworkers, but believes it could also be used by high street agents to augment trade from local footfall.

Agents can choose up to five categories in which they consider themselves specialists. Those who are ranked top for a particular specialism will be guaranteed the prime slot on its channel page.

Skype by numbers

 >30 million users online during peak periods
 >145 million connected users per month in the fourth quarter of 2010
 >207 billion minutes of voice and video calls made in 2010 
 >42% of call minutes in 2010 were on video

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