Boeing74741R wrote:JannEejit wrote:vhtje wrote:When I walked past Trailfinders yesterday, I noticed that of the 8 or so desks in the shopfront, only two were occupied by agents. Of those desks, only one had a customer. And this was at lunchtime.
How long can high street travel agents last?
Time will tell how long they can last, I've seen similar scenes walking past the rebranded Hays branches in recent days, but then again I don't know too many people looking to book holidays in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas.
There's still a role for a traditional travel agent, but the stores need to have something to entice people in and do more with their floorspace than just have various desks lined up with brochures on the racks and a bureaux de change desk at the back.
Take for example Virgin Holidays, who are currently opening stores in various towns and cities in the UK. In their Trafford Centre branch, there is a bar by the door to entice you in and you will be served a complementary drink whilst waiting to be seen by an agent. In the back of the store, there are VS Premium Economy and Upper Class seats to try, which I think is a great idea as it shows people what they can get by upgrading and could swing it for those thinking about it (though note to Virgin Holidays: they need to be changed for the new seats that are in the A350's before they completely replace the 747's). How often do you see airline seats on display somewhere for people to try without getting on a plane? In another room, you have what looks like a virtual reality room so you can "try out" the destination you want to go to. As an aside, it's also on the ground floor next to one of the car park entrances by Debenhams, so it's in a prime position to capture the attention of any thoroughfare heading in and out from that side or passing by - key if you're trying to capture potential impulsive buyers who may not go out of their way to locate a store.
I appreciate this will be tricky for independent travel agents to replicate, but by having parts of the product to try it's bringing products to people and a reason for people to use stores.
Bars... free drinks... virtual reality equipment - lovely for the customer, but those frills are not sustainable in an industry running on razor-sharp margins. My implied point in my original post about the lessening in quality of paper in the Trailfinders brochure, is that Trailfinders are obviously cutting costs. They closed their owned resort in Bloomfield in North Queensland a couple of years ago, and it has been on the market ever since.
One wonders if travel agents shouldn’t consider changing their business model. Rather than earning a commission from vendors on items sold, perhaps they could charge the traveller a fee for locating that perfect deal? Arguably, that would better serve the traveller, since under that model they are not being sold hotel A because it earns the agent a bigger commission than hotel B, even though hotel B better fits the customer’s need.