What’s the Value of a Travel Agent?
Three reasons why Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owners are benefiting from the increasing demand for travel agents
Who’s Still Using Travel Agents?
At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, a common question our Franchise Development Managers receive is “why invest in a retail travel agency franchise when all travel is booked online?”. We love dispelling this myth because there is an abundance of supporting data to show that travel agents are not only surviving, they are thriving. In fact, between 2015 and 2016, consumer use of travel agents increased nearly 80% according to the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. Even Millennial travelers are finding value in travel agent expertise with 1/3 of Millennials choosing to book through an agent in 2016, a 19% increase from five years prior (MMGY Global’s 2016 Portrait of the American Traveler).
In today’s digital world the Internet is an incredible resource for researching vacation destinations; however, the abundance of information at your fingertips can quickly become overwhelming. While the web is great when making more straightforward travel bookings for things like flights and hotels; when it comes to booking more complicated, high value travel products like a cruise vacation, the knowledge and one-on-one service from a trusted travel professional is in high demand.
Why Do Cruisers Prefer to Book Through Travel Agents?
With over 113 new cruise ships scheduled to debut between now and 2026 to accommodate the upward trend of cruisers, not only is there enormous demand for cruising but there are now more options to choose from than ever before. As a result, simply navigating the vacation planning process can be daunting without the right help, which is why 70% of cruisers book with a travel agent according to Cruise Lines International Association. Even cruise lines have realized the importance of travel agents to their business and rely heavily on industry leaders like Expedia CruiseShipCenters to fill their ships. Don’t just take our word for it, hear it from top cruise lines executives in the video below.
Leveraging the value of a travel agent ensures customers are embarking on the best version of the trip they were intending to book. All of this is great news for our Franchise Owners who count on that exceptional service to build a base of repeat customers to continuously grow their business.
Read on to learn the top three reasons why travel agents are still in demand, especially for booking cruise vacations:
1) Expert Advice
Customers who choose to work with a travel agent get more out of their holiday than they would have had they booked it themselves. At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, our Vacation Consultants, are industry trained professionals who are experts at navigating through the options and asking the right questions to ensure their clients find the right destination, cruise line, ship and stateroom to make their cruise the vacation spectacular. In addition, their expert recommendations for pre and post cruise hotels, onboard amenities, shore excursions, and more are the kinds of details that take a vacation from good, to incredible. Not to mention they’re typically seasoned travelers and cruise enthusiasts who can share their experiences and tips like must-visit galleries, monuments, restaurants, activities and more for destinations around the globe. This knowledge allows them to make educated recommendations based on their clients’ needs to craft the perfect holiday experience they’ve been daydreaming of. We don’t call our Vacation Consultants navigators of spectacular vacation experiences for nothing!
2) Best Value
Many believe that by removing the middleman they will save money on their vacation, but a key benefit of working with a travel agent is that they not only are the often able to secure better fares but they also add value to your vacation. They can save you hours of stressful research and review reading by asking you a few simple questions about what kind of vacation you’re looking for and guiding you in the right direction with their industry knowledge. Plus, by being a part of Expedia CruiseShipCenters and the largest travel brand in the world, our Vacation Consultants are able to provide clients every cruise option from the popular selection to luxury, ocean and river – all at Expedia prices. Because of our massive buying power, our clients often receive other exclusive extras like bonus onboard cash credits, stateroom upgrades, reduced deposits and more! Travelers who work with our Vacation Consultants enjoy the best of two worlds: they reap the rewards of Expedia pricing, but also feel confident in their booking knowing their itinerary has been designed by a real person with their needs in mind.
3) Personal Relationship
Working with a travel agent brings back the human component of sales that is few and far between in this day and age. Our retail travel agency model provides an opportunity for our Vacation Consultants to get to know their customers and build a relationship where they can provide them with the best service for their needs. At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, clients can choose to visit their local Center for an in person consultation or reach out by email, phone or by booking directly on their Consultant’s website. As travel is considered a highly prized purchase by most consumers – they want to know they’re booking a trip that is right for them, at the best possible price. Our Vacation Consultants take pride in making dream vacations come true for travelers in their community and the retail space provided by an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise allows them to connect with clients on a more personal level.
As the number of options for cruisers continues to increase with each new ship that enters the market, travel agents who specialize in cruise vacations are becoming more and more relevant. Travelers want to have peace of mind knowing that they have spent their hard earned vacation dollars wisely and by booking with a travel professional they can rest easy. They will take off carefree thanks to the expert advice they received selecting the best getaway for their needs to the added value of Expedia Extras and personalized service before, during and after their trip. The value of a travel agent, especially an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Vacation Consultant, will keep customers coming back to book with our franchise locations again and again.
If you’ve still got questions about the value of a travel agent or why investing in a retail travel agency franchise is a great decision, we’d be happy to answer them! For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more through this six step overview of our travel agency franchise opportunity here.