Price comparison sites are “dying”, according to a keynote speaker at The Travel Network Group conference.
“The public are tired of doing things on price,” said ‘retail champion’ Clare Rayner.
She said agents should use their expertise and knowledge to sell holidays, and urged: “Don’t compete on price, compete on service – that’s the way the market is going.”
Her presentation, ‘10 Steps to Retail Success’, outlined how agents must have a “robust and repeatable platform” for their business, to build customer loyalty and trust.
She also told delegates about her own travel agent, which she had discovered by referral 10 years ago.
Since then, this agent has kept her business, which has included regular cruises and holidays for her family and friends, generating bookings worth about £100,000 over the past decade.
“It’s the little things that count, such as printing e-tickets and sending them in the post,” she commented.
Having a ‘price ladder’ was another tip she offered agents, saying: “You can help customers climb the ladder, with your knowledge and expertise, to get them to trade up.
“For example, a balcony cabin or an inside cabin can be offered.
“Once you have got them climbing the ladder, they don’t ever drop back down to the bottom rung.”
She advised agents to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and keep in mind the customer’s expectation of their perfect holiday.
“Create a persona, an individual, an imaginary friend, then try to identify with that imaginary friend,” she advised.
“It really does work.”