DIFFERENTIATION through value-adds is the key for travel consultants to staying relevant and unscathed by competition from OTAs and product owners who sell direct to consumers, advised speakers at the 62nd Convention & Exhibition of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) last week.
Held in Bali from March 26 to 28, the theme of the convention was Reflections – Redefining Relevance, recommending tour operators to change approaches and embrace change. The conference attracted some 700 delegates.
One of the speakers, Dhananjay Saliankar, regional director, South Asia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts said travel consultants should view themselves as travel planners able to provide personalisation and unique experiences. He said: “They should ask themselves what they can do to be different from other consultants and to brush up their skills on being a ‘trusted advisor’ (to clients).
“They should be able to add-value for their customers such as providing solutions to complex trips which are not point-to-point journeys, and focus on customers with high value – those who have a lot of money but have little time.”
Niranjan Gupta, Founder & CEO of Trip 38, concurred, sharing that his company provides online solutions for travel consultants to upsell and engage with customers beyond airline ticket sales. It answers requests from customers who want complete information, from planning the holiday to experiences in the destination.
Sunil Kumar, TAAI president, told TTG Asia e-Daily that a substantial number of travel consultants across India are still dependent on ticketing. As such, the convention was TAAI’s first initiative to create opportunities for members about specialisations in the areas of MICE, destination management companies, luxury travel and destination weddings.