Travel Counsellors Andy La Gette

What is that ‘magical extra’ that sets agents apart?

With some outside-the-box planning, Andy La Gette from Travel Counsellors shows how agents can deliver a client’s dream holiday.

Giving customers great experiences is what wins us as agents repeat custom and loyalty. Sure, everybody wants value, and these days, we all need great travel photos for our social media channels, but ultimately delivering feel-good moments is what makes a holiday a success.

For example, I recently planned a holiday for a couple travelling to East Africa. During the planning it became apparent that some of their requirements had to give – the husband wouldn’t see his favourite gorillas, and Giraffe Manor was fully booked, depriving his wife of a close encounter with the animals she loved the most. Working closely with our suppliers in Kenya, however, we found the perfect solution. The flight connection from Zanzibar back via Nairobi would mean a lengthy connection, so to avoid an unwanted airport transit we arranged a memorable final day.

The couple will fly back to Nairobi early and will be met by a driver who is taking them to the Giraffe Centre (next to the Manor) to meet and feed the giraffes, before heading to Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage after lunch. The mornings here are incredibly popular, and the sessions often oversubscribed, so the trick here is to sponsor an elephant in the customer’s name (which costs just $50) entitling them to a more personal “sponsors-only” experience.

Finally, we sorted out dinner at a restaurant before heading to the airport for their evening departure. All boxes were ticked, and there’s no way they could have organised this themselves online.

Great customer experiences can be the result of creative thinking and planning, but can equally be borne out of necessity at little or no notice. Either way, as experienced travel agents we’re searching for the fairy-dust − the magical “extra” that sets us apart. More than price, or efficiency, it’s the experiences we deliver that make us stand out from the crowd and differentiate us from online-only offerings. I would argue that it’s this difference, that extra bit of fairy dust, that justifies our very existence.

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