Darren Bond Global Travel Group

Darren Bond from Global Travel Group talks about industry partners engaging with travel agents

Regular readers of this page will notice that Global Travel Group’s managing director Andy Stark looks a little different this month! I’ve wrestled this spot off of him for the chance to chat about something that’s very dear to my heart – how travel agents are served by their partners.

With the peak selling period now in full swing, it’s a safe bet to suggest that motorways up and down the country are filled with travel industry account managers and sales executives. Cars packed with branded pens, notepads and funny-shaped, squidgy stress balls are zooming here and there as these hardworking road warriors attempt to travel between agents and spread the word about their main selling points, top offers and incentives. 

Working in one of these agent-facing roles can be incredibly rewarding – and is certainly a brilliant way to get a solid grounding in the business if you have an eye on building a career.

Arguably, there has been a diminished on-the-road presence over the years, but I know that for agents, getting a visit can be a real boost. Not only does it offer the chance for a little break from selling, but it is certainly nice to feel your efforts are appreciated – whether that comes in the form of doughnuts or sweets and a friendly face. 

Agents really appreciate the help and support from the on-the-road teams that fully embrace the product, know it inside out and share the ethos of the company they represent. The best on the road ambassadors invest time in supporting agents with growing sales and have time for a personal chat, which is why I always encourage Global’s members to support the suppliers that make such a commitment to the independent trade. At Global, we highly recommend this interaction. While I appreciate that the role of our business development managers is slightly different – they are providing support exclusively to Global members – the fundamental purpose of visiting agents is always to deliver real value. 

Everyone in travel realises the benefits of face-to-face contact, and our team are encouraged to take this to the max. This takes significant time. Visits should encompass sitting down to discuss achievements, looking through the latest marketing activity and examining how it translates into sales. On top of that, we are demonstrating new ideas, looking at local networking opportunities, reviewing new supplier products, apps or websites that can help our agents grow. 

I encourage the theory that if you haven’t made a difference in some way by supporting an agent on a visit, was it really worthwhile? 

The help we offer to our members covers the complete range of techniques in the modern retailer’s armoury. This includes setting up social media channels and helping analyse engagement data to helping them to create WOW email quotations that look stunning on mobile devices and working out how different suppliers’ products affect profitability.

Along with that, we’re sharing the dates of our free training, Global Gatherings, GNOW or Global Rocks events (not forgetting our legendary conferences...) and my personal favourite, passing on vital selling skills such as identifying customer needs, overcoming objections and closing the sale. 

We are constantly reminded that today’s successful retailers are great independent businesses. They have reinvented their offering, typically around a model of providing expert, trusted advice to appreciative customers, so it is incumbent that we treat them with the respect they deserve.

So let’s applaud all of the travel trade’s on-the-road heroes and wish them plenty more years of fruitful and safe motoring as they keep up the excellent work of sharing the knowledge that helps the independent travel trade find the right holiday, product or service for their customers.

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