Trafalgar chief urges travel agents to prove their value in experience economy

The collapse of travel giant Thomas Cook and the uncertain future of cash-strapped Cox & Kings have prompted travel companies to cast a keener eye on product and service quality, as their role in facilitating the delivery of memorable experiences that travellers crave for comes under greater scrutiny.

Trafalgar’s global CEO Gavin Tollman told TTG Asia: “Particularly in Asia, I want our agent partners to be aware of the importance that agents can play in the buying cycle. They have to do their homework and know (their customers). (Seeing) what happened with Thomas Cook and Cox & Kings, travel agents have to understand the importance of trust.”

Travel agents need to rethink experience quality for consumers: Tollman

According to Google Analytics, 49 per cent of a traveller’s online touchpoints in the four months prior to making a travel booking is spent on OTA sites, signalling the importance of OTAs in travel buying.

However, not all agencies are taking advantage of this position or delivering the full potential of a destination to travellers. A survey by The Source Research found that 89 per cent of people still find travel difficult to plan, with 49 per cent saying that experiences marketed as authentic were not genuine.

Tollman explained: “Experiences are becoming the norm, yet far too many of our agent partners are just selling based on price. They have to understand that customers would rather buy an experience for a great price, rather than have a great price without an experience. Agents need to understand the importance of a destination and adjust their thinking around it.”

He added that doing so also involves responsible travel that minimises the negative impacts on a destination and its local communities “to prevent another Boracay from happening again”.

Responsible travel is now becoming the next experience that travellers are searching for. According to an Expedia study, sentiment is growing amongst consumers that it is the travel company’s responsibility to be environmentally accountable, and 40 per cent of consumers believe that holidays should have an environmental and social rating.

In its latest green efforts, The Travel Corporation (TTC) has pushed out its new Make Travel Matter Pledge, in celebration of World Tourism Day. Guided by The TreadRight Foundation, a joint initiative between TTC brands, including Trafalgar, the pledge cemented the company’s commitment to sustainable tourism and conscious travel.

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