OTA’s are the real competitor. Other travel agencies, maybe, but they are geographically dispersed. That is of course unless Flight Centre or Helloworld opened up next door. And with a price war looming you’ve got your work cut out for you. OTA’s are “omnipresent”.
Here is a golden rule; do not support your competitors. Supporting a wholesaler who also sells retail is just dumb. I’m not too sure about the hybrid models either. Every time you use them you are making them stronger than yourself. But we move on.
So you have to provide more than just a good price. In fact, more than ever, you are probably offering the same price as an OTA and getting a diminished return for it.
So maybe it’s time to go “old school”. I don’t mean Will Ferrell running naked down the street “old school” but going back to some “old school” values. Although a nudey run is a great way to be remembered. Apparently.
The areas you can compete in are offering wisdom, advice, the extras and most importantly, the service. We know from our experience roomsXML that a couple of dollars here and there does not win a client but service reputation will eventually win them over.
Think about the value proposition you offer, and remember that you have five seconds to sell yourself. If you are asked by a customer, can you sell your value proposition to them in five seconds? This is can maximise your chance of getting their business when they are in front of you.
If you’re competing with an OTA your conversation must be able to interrupt their value proposition . Don’t be nasty, but have a story or two ready.
The landscape for social media has changed as well with more than ever it being manipulated and controlled by significantly larger industry players. In the smaller, more intimate circles social media has some value but the truth is, like Google advertising of a few years ago, everyone is doing it and I wonder about its real value apart from brand impression.
So if you get the chance to meet with a person, form relationships with them that cannot be found elsewhere. Showing loyalty to a good customer increases their loyalty in return. This might mean giving something away, just something little, to get them back the next time.
Demonstrate integrity, honesty and commitment to giving them a great experience.
Write down a list of the things that OTA’s do well and write a list next to it of how you do it better.
If you can’t, it’s time to look at some more education, think outside the square or maybe even consider a new occupation.