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Agent to Agent: Are You Losing Millennial Business?

Dear Tammy: I’ve been reading a lot about millennials—how they think, what they buy, how they live their life. I don’t get it, to be honest.

I am trying to build business; Isn’t it a fact that they either want to travel or they don’t? How am I to approach them differently?

Tammy: I’ve said this before in this column, but every market is a niche. You’re going to market to a senior market differently than you would a young family. You’re going to market business differently to a young family than you would a single businessman.

Everyone thinks and acts differently, and the millennial market is one that you really need to focus on if you want to improve your business.

The tourism industry is also catering to this market. Last year, The Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago opened its doors in downtown Chicago touting itself as the first hotel to launch under Hyatt’s new lifestyle brand specifically for millennial explorers, typically born between 1980-2000. There is a river cruise specifically marketed to millennials as well.

Millennials think differently about travel. Many prefer a more affordable place to stay versus a five-star hotel. They like to backpack through Europe instead of enjoying a luxury cruise.

Conde Nast recently reported on a study that showed millennials even treat business trips differently.

According to the article, “which reported on a 2016 report from MMGY Global, a travel and hospitality marketing firm who polled 1,007 business travelers from across generations, millennials took an average of 7.7 business trips over a twelve-month period—more than their older counterparts, Generation Xers who were born between 1965 and 1979 (6.4 trips) and Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, (6.3 trips).”

You need to learn how they think, how they spend, where they want to go in order to sell to them properly. Once you do that, you will see that your business will grow.

It’s important to take time to learn about all your niches for the same reason.

Agent to Agent: ‘Game of Thrones’ Bandwagon is Yours

Dear Tammy: All I hear about lately is Game of Thrones-this and Game of Thrones-that. I’m a small travel agent in the Midwest, and I’ve heard about how I should jump on the GOT bandwagon when it comes to travel.

I don’t get it.

Tammy: If you don’t get it, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build travel business.

Film and television buffs love to go where their favorite shows and flicks are filmed.

There are places in New Zealand where you can go if you’re a Lord of the Rings nut. Fans of Downton Abbey can visit the castle where it’s filmed in England. Harry Potter followers can also go to places in Europe that were used in the films. There are tours and museums all over the world that cater to fans. Game of Thrones is no exception!

Fans are flocking to filming locations in Iceland, Spain, Northern Ireland and Croatia to see the beautiful backdrops of their favorite HBO thriller. Hilton is having a big summer sale for packages so GoT superfans can live like Daenerys Targaryen or Cersei Lannister—including a GoT tour package at Hilton Belfast, which is rumored to become the jewel in the latest season’s crown!

There’s a Hilton Imperial in Dubrovnik, Croatia where the Minceta Tower or the House of the Undying stands. This tower was used in Season Two and is the highest point along Dubrovnik’s city walls. Daenerys Targaryen goes looking for her dragons inside but is kidnapped by the warlocks who, not knowing any better, get fried by the one and only Drogon.

Hilton also has a hotel in Winterfell, Scotland where fans can see Doune Castle, which is Stirling Castle, dating back to 1400 and used in the pilot episodes for exterior shots of Winterfell.

You can be booking vacations for fans to these locations and increasing your travel business. Listen to what their favorite movie is and offer a trip somewhere that matches!

It’s up to you, but either way, film and television fans are a great market to improve your bottom line. Again, it’s just about thinking out of the box and figuring out how to turn that client’s passion into a trip and a happy client.

Agent to Agent: Get Ready to Sell Holiday Travel

Dear Tammy: It’s the middle of summertime, and I’m actively working to book more summer trips for families and college students.

Things are going well, but I’m noticing that as active as I am, bookings for the summer are starting to slow down. Am I doing something wrong?

Tammy: No, it doesn’t seem like you are. If you’re still booking for the summer that’s a good thing because many travel agents are starting to work on fall bookings and summer seems to be done.

But here’s a tip: You should already be getting ready to sell holiday travel to your clients.

Yes, I said holiday travel. Even though the thermometer reads sweltering outside, your mind should be on Jack Frost and the upcoming jingle bells.

Here’s why: You should always be thinking in two different directions when it comes to marketing your business.

First, think currently. What should you be doing to book trips now?

Then, think six months ahead in your schedule. What should you be doing to book trips at holiday time?

While it’s summertime, you should start encouraging your clients to consider where they will spend the holidays. Before they know it, school will be in session and then the semester will be over and the kids will be home for winter break. Time flies, and by staying six months ahead, it gives you time to put packages together, book trips, answer questions and deal with families who need a reminder and a little extra time to put a trip together.

So it’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, per se; it’s just that you’re not completely thinking through all of your marketing options.

Think now. Think six months from now. Think a year from now.

What do you need to do to draw in all of those customers? And then, do it.

Agent to Agent: Staying Focused Through the Noise

Dear Tammy: I’m having one of those days where I’m questioning everything.

You see, I’ve been reading your column since it started and been utilizing your tips. Business has improved a bit, of course, but overall, I keep reading social media posts or other articles about how people do not want to travel anymore, especially internationally. Travel is scary, or expensive, or they just don’t have the time. They think that we aren’t a necessity in someone’s life, like food or housing.

At times, it’s becoming a bummer just to get on the internet. How do you feel about this?

Tammy: First of all, thank you for reading since we started this column, and we did so for a reason. It was to help travel agents improve business and get a better understanding of how consumers travel. By doing so, we can do a better job and provide better service.

You’re right. Travel is scary and expensive, and many people just don’t have the time.

But here’s the funny part: According to new research, Americans spend FOUR YEARS of their life indulging in escapism, which means they want to get away from where they are currently.

Whether it be their job or their home life, they want to escape.

The study was commissioned by G Adventures and included  2,000 adults across the United States. The results showed that we spend 12 hours and 56 minutes each week trying to escape. We do so by watching movies, reading books and, they say, dreaming of vacations. Another form of escape tallied at just under an hour and that was exploring new places.

Oh, and we are big daydreamers too! The survey says a whopping 60 percent of us daydream of winning the lottery, 54 percent of going on vacation and 50 percent of traveling to somewhere exotic.

We daydream and fantasize because it puts our minds more at ease.

So how does this pertain to you as a travel agent? Just because you’re reading about people who are afraid to travel or can’t for a variety of reasons doesn’t mean they won’t if presented with the right opportunity.

— The person on a budget? Suggest a more affordable weekend getaway.

—The person who is scared of international travel? How about a cruise that allows them to see some international sites, without being right where there have been issues.

—The person who doesn’t have the time? Help them to plan something out a little farther. This gives them the time to raise money and arrange their schedules and their lives so they can take a break.

Being a travel agent means working with all sorts of consumers and providing them with solutions that fit their situation.

Trust me, they want to travel.

Nearly a quarter of the survey participants worry they won’t get a chance to indulge enough in real life adventure. Help them to make it happen.

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