Pivoting to Domestic Travel
With an an end to this lockdown finally in sight, it’s time for our industry to match the new travel landscape we’ve found ourselves in. For the foreseeable future, domestic travel will be the name of the game, and Richard speaks with two professionals in the field to find out how the industry can take advantage of this opportunity and stay ahead of the curve. Lisa Pagotto, founder of Crooked Compass and Jorge Fernandez, professional business advisor and coach through his company Applied Sense, discuss a range of issues that travel agents and businesses will need to consider when starting to supply the demand for domestic travel.
· Whilst there is hype around domestic travel, it’s really important to understand who in your network offers domestic and what type of domestic you want to sell. Focus on what you’re passionate about because passion is what sells.
· As clients have been pushed toward the internet to book domestic travel in the past, we need to demonstrate our value and expertise, and why a client should come to us over the internet.
· Think outside stock standard domestic travel, because people will do that themselves.
· Remember the pity aspect – the industry has been hit hard, encourage people to book through you.
· People who have just had trips cancelled may not be the right target market. But there are others preparing for travel who need digital inspiration - keep them engaged and inspired.
· It is hard to sell Australia to people who have already travelled domestically. How do we redefine Australian travel? This is where we need to be strategic with messaging. How does your product differ from other things on the market? Clients have not been everywhere in the country, so we need to find out where they haven’t been.
· Keep feeding them with powerful imagery and emotive language.
· Leverage off the idea of experience.
· Find brands that fit with you, and use these operators for help to sell your product.
· Jorge suggests there will be a whole new chapter around experiencing Indigenous culture as a tourist. He also adds that culinary, wine and event packages will be major marketable products.
· Be confident with domestic, take this time to familiarise yourself with who does want it, what you want to sell, and to gather information. Lean on the contacts you do have, including BDMs or operators.
· Most people have been out of work and many businesses have downsized to ride through the lockdown. As such, there may be issues and mistakes on the comeback. Jorge advises that it’s important to know who you’re working with so that you can rely on their procedures and trust that they will reflect your values – this way you can be confident you’re working with the best.
· Don’t rush in, be smart and strategic so your customers are satisfied.
· Australian travel is expensive. GST automatically adds another 10%. We need to be able to clearly explain this to consumers and communicate it as a value of domestic travel.
· Many small operators, rip off merchants and dodgy websites will take advantage of the situation. This is an opportunity for agents to demonstrate their worth to clients.
Health and Safety
· There will be a huge appetite for health mitigation and action. This will be a major selling point if you incorporate it into your business plan now. For example, offer sanitiser packs, sanitised rental cars, sterilised hotel rooms, contactless check-ins etc.
· These features come into cost and will change the way the experience is delivered.
· To demonstrate this as an added value for clients, speak to operators now and get these questions answered so you have the information on hand for your clients. This way, you can market health and safety as an aspect of your product.
· Lisa and Jorge suggest using this as a way to gain trust back after bad press and it differentiates agents from internet bookings.
· Jorge suggests from July to September we will see intrastate travel and from September onwards we should open up to interstate travel.
· There is the hope that New Zealand and Pacific Islands may open up by January 2021.
· The industry has received a lot of bad press in relations to terms and conditions, refunds, credits etc. So, consider this carefully for the future, as consumer perceptions will initially be sensitive.
· Use of credit cards will be the new requirement. Both agents and suppliers will be paid with credit cards.
· Many companies will be doing it tough – use your buying groups and your supply chains to ensure you’re using reputable companies.
· Everyone needs cash flow, so clear terms and conditions are paramount – there needs to be an understanding on both sides.
· Remember to check your cash flow to ensure you can survive until September. Also budget for past September because this is when the JobKeeper payments will end.
· As agents begin to offer all-inclusive trips, a fine line develops between agent and tour operator. This means there is a different price perspective and a different type of insurance needed.
· Make sure you have tour operator insurance if required, or find an operator to do it for you to ensure you are protected.
· You can check at Gow-Gates.
· Sell travel insurance to clients as you would for international travel. Although everyone has access to Medicare in Australia, insurance goes beyond medical and is for when things really do go wrong. Familiarise yourself with domestic policies to pull out key points when selling the product to clients.
· This will become increasingly important to travellers, as people are appreciating the lack of pollution occurring in the world during lockdown.
· Jorge suggests airlines and hotels providing clients with the carbon footprint of their routes and rooms.
· The industry should start leading with this, to stay ahead of the market.
To see the full webinar head to The Travel Industry Hub’s Facebook Page. Make sure you don’t miss out on our upcoming Survive and Revive sessions by following the link below.