Jason Leppert | June 02, 2016 12:00 PM ET
Is CLIA Right to Think That Millennials Need Travel Agents?
Cruise News UK is reporting that Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), or at least the organization’s vice president of operations, Andy Harmer, believes that Generation Y, or millennials, will require travel agents more than an older clientele. But is he right? I’m a millennial, and I think that’s only partly accurate.
Harmer was quoted as saying, “The next-generation of holidaymakers – Millennials – are likely to be the most affluent travelers and will use agents more than the previous older generation, because they need advice. They need experts.”
He reiterated the importance of agent training in that equation, adding “But it’s not just a case of having that knowledge; it’s how to use it in a way that your competitors don’t.” He thinks they need to “keep up to date with changes…And network with other agents – learning from one another is very important, which is why this [The Global Travel Group (TGTG)] conference has been such a success.”
While it’s true that millennials tend to feel entitled to things and can be less self-reliant, I’m of the mindset that we are at least much more informed and know more about the industry, rightly or wrongly, than some may realize.
Why? Social media. We are more likely to get our news from Facebook and Twitter than other sources these days, and that’s crucial to understand, particularly when it comes to us forming opinions and making buying decisions. For better or for worse, we are influenced by social media and its reports, whether they are accurate or not.
Negativity can run rampant on these channels, and when unfortunate incidents occur at sea, misinformation can be mistaken as fact. Take exaggerated reports from onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas when it was struck by unusually rough weather earlier this year, for instance. Passenger tweets claimed the ship listed upwards of 45-degrees, which in reality it never came close to. Speculation comes quick, and cruise lines might wait to respond until they have all the facts.
Consequently, for travel agents to prove their expertise to my generation, they should showcase their prowess on social media — not only as a level head among outrageous reports, but as a cruise travel knowledge base in general. They should follow the hashtags and engage in conversation.
There’s nothing worse than seeing ambulance-chasing lawyers take this approach for their own petty gain. It will instead take positivity and real case studies to boost first-time cruisers and break through relatively low market penetration numbers. This is true not just among millennials but a growing number of other demographics taking to social media as well.
So is CLIA right? Yes, provided travel agents leave the strip mall to compete online and join the discussion to convey how wonderful a cruise vacation can truly be.
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