How To Handle Competition
Competition – a dreaded word in any business. Most people don’t like to deal with “competition” as it means there may be someone out there that could sell the product or perform the function better. Competition in any form can be healthy. It keeps you sharp, on your toes, ensures you are always trained, and it encourages creativity and innovation.
Since the travel industry is not immune to competition, the key to overcoming it is to earn the competitive EDGE. It all starts with being “pro-active” and knowing how to deal with each competitive situation with confidence.
First you have to identify your competition. Once you recognize who your competition may be, it will be easier to strategize how you will overcome and win in each situation. Here a few examples of potential competitors.
Other Travel Agents – It won’t take long before you run into a client who may know or have used a travel agent before. Instead of looking at another agent as competition, view it as opportunity. Another travel agent is one more person out there that can sell the “value” of using a travel professional. Educating the public is important and you can’t do it all by yourself. Get to know the travel agents in your area, learn about their specialties, and you may even be able to send each other leads. But more importantly, learn their strengths and weaknesses so you can capitalize on them.
Travel Suppliers – It is no secret that the travel suppliers who train agents and pay commission can also be your biggest competitors. The best way to combat losing business to travel suppliers is to “nip it in the bud” from the very beginning. Let your client know that the supplier you are using sells directly to the consumer. Be sure to explain to them that suppliers always encourage the consumer to use a travel professional if at all possible. Since not all consumers know and understand the value of using travel agents, suppliers have to be prepared to work with travelers that call and book direct. Being aware of this issue and educating your client from the very beginning will ensure that your client will feel comfortable using your services.
Online Booking Engines – It’s a fact that online booking engines have been around for awhile, and will probably be your biggest competition. However, they can be one of the easiest competitive situations to overcome. This is where educating your prospect and selling yourself effectively will help beat the online booking engine almost every single time. Follow these few simple steps and online booking engines won’t even be an issue.
First, build a relationship before you start selling. This is key because online booking engines don’t have the ability to build relationships. And generally travelers want to work with people they know and like.
Second, educate your prospect on the history of online booking engines. A decade ago, the online booking engine was a viable option when storefront agencies started to close their doors. But now the world wide web of travel has become so populated, that it is a confusing place for any consumer to navigate. The consumer gets faced with far too many options and pictures and they can’t even tell what’s real and what’s not. Booking online has become an extremely overwhelming process for the traveler. This is where you can step in as a travel professional.
Finally, sell the value of using a travel professional versus booking it online themselves. You will save your client time and money, and offer them sound advice based on your training and/or firsthand experiences.
Competition is basically a confidence game. And that confidence begins with YOU. Once you find your niche and get trained, your confidence will grow. Don’t be afraid to let others know how confident you are about your industry and the product that you sell, which is yourself. You will find that confidence is contagious and your prospects will want to do business with YOU! And more importantly you will be able to welcome and deal with the healthy competition the world of travel will bring you.
Not a KHM Travel Agent yet? Visit www.KHMTravel.com to learn more about the training and support available to start your career as a home-based travel agent.