PHOTO: Travel agents increasingly turn to technology to improve their bottom line.(photo via Flickr/perzon seo)
My, how times have changed!
It was only a little more than 15 years ago when Ronda Zeneri became a Cruise Planner. Back then, she researched all of her cruise information in the cruise line brochures. When she sold a trip, she had to complete a detailed form, include all of the client’s credit card information, and mail the information to her Cruise Planners’ home office in Coral Springs, Florida.
“Cruise Planners would make the booking and then I would receive a confirmation from the cruise line by mail,” said Zeneri, with Cruise Planners. “I kept all of my client information in a file cabinet in my office.”
Thanks to technology, travel agents handle everything in their business – from reservations to promotion – all from their computers. Today, of course, when Zeneri researches anything – a cruise, all-inclusive land vacation, hotel, car rental, air schedule, she does it online, with the Cruise Planners’ Erez System.
“Everything that I need is right on my computer,” she said. “I even have an app on my cell phone where I can access all of my files and book travel right from my phone,” she said. “Cruise Planners also has an app for clients to use to access all of their booking information while they are traveling.”
Denise Lorentzen is using new itinerary technology instead of typing out everything like the “old days,” "Travefy has been my new go to; I love it,” said Lorentzen of Dreams Travel Consulting.
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While some travel agents may still rely on the old-fashioned ways of doing business, such as postcards, letters and flyers, Lorentzen has become a social media regular. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and this year she added Instagram to her list.
“We are utilizing social media and digital marketing more and more each day,” said Greg Antonelle of MickeyTravels LLC. “Ten, 15, and 20 years ago, as travel agents we relied upon advertising in the yellow pages, local newspaper or direct mail. Our targeted audience was a small radius around our storefront location, typically on Main St, within a shopping center, or in a mall. We waited for potential customers to physically come to us or call us. Now, we are much more proactive with all the social media and digital marketing techniques. We no longer wait for people to come to us, but rather, we go to them through marketing, retargeting, and email.”
Zeneri also has a Facebook page, Twitter feed, Linked In account, Instagram page, and Pinterest account, where she posts travel deals and information for her clients. “I can send e-cards and interactive, cruise information sheets to my clients directly from my website,” she said. “It’s amazing how far we have come in a few years!”
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Looking back, Margie Lenau is doing almost everything differently, compared to two decades ago. “I try to constantly improve my back office so I can work more efficiently,” said Lenau of Wonderland Family Vacations.
“I used to depend on referrals, and that still is a big part of my business, but now I also send newsletters by email to keep in touch with my clients. I use Facebook to post fun tips and special offers along with posts about my personal travels so my clients get to know me. I share much more of my life and travels now, using social media, which can give people ideas about how to make their own travel memories. They get to know me and feel comfortable working with me.”