Skift Take

Travel advisors need to reinvent how they market themselves. It's not about service fees anymore. Forward-thinking agents sell service packages — unabashedly.

Whether you are a home-based travel advisor or you work in a large office servicing high-profile accounts, the Travel Advisor Innovation Report will have you covered with the trends, news, and features you’ll need to stay on top of an ever-changing marketplace.

The increasing need for travel advisors to move into a true consultancy or concierge-style role is illustrated by two stories in this week’s Travel Advisor Innovation Report.

One looks at the challenge of satisfying the luxury traveler, who expects top-level service without being insulated from local experiences, sometimes in destinations where sanitation and safety are in question. These travelers may want the upscale resort, but they also want to sample street fare and get a sense of how the locals live. In these cases, travel advisors really have to hone their destination knowledge and vet overseas partners in order to deliver on their clients’ mixed bag of expectations.

The other is a conversation with consultant/educator Nolan Burris, who for nearly 20 years has advocated that travel agencies base their business model on service fees rather than commissions. While fees have become standard practice, he says many travel advisors still have a long way to go in reaping the rewards of charging for their expertise. It’s time to take it to the next level. The key, he says, is a proactive, unapologetic approach to packaging and selling service.

For more coverage of pertinent issues, click here.

Any suggestions for the coverage you would like to see are welcome. Feel free to contact me at [email protected].

— Maria Lenhart, Travel Advisor Editor

Featured Stories

Luxury Agents Try to Combine High-Level Service With Street-Level Experiences: Luxury travel advisors are experts at planning a five-star vacation for their clients, but agents are more frequently being asked to add a more local element to their plans. A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into making sure these experiences go off without a hitch.

Travel Advisors Are Selling Concierge Services — Just Don’t Call Them Fees: Consultant Nolan Burris is a pioneer in advocating that travel agencies charge service fees. Now that the practice has become standard, Burris says many agencies have failed to realize the revenue potential of service packages and need to overhaul their approach.

The Future of Cruising

Virgin Voyages Says Farewell to Cruise Cliche: The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet: Virgin Voyages is intent on setting itself apart, and its food choices do stand out: no buffet, no main dining room, no restaurants with an extra charge. Execution will be key.

Norwegian Cruise Is Trying to Luxe Up Its Mass-Market Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings keeps trying new ways to get higher-spending passengers on board. Quarterly results show the efforts are working so far.

Tourism Trends

Turkey’s Weak Economy Entices Travelers With Good Deals: Travelers love nothing more than a good deal, and that’s exactly what much of Turkey is offering right now. A cooling economy has travelers striking while the iron is hot.

San Francisco Wants to Solve Tourists’ Top Complaint by Hiring the Homeless: Homelessness is a reality that has been exacerbated by various economic and public health crises. San Francisco is one destination that thinks it can find a solution.

Disney CEO Still Bullish on China Despite Shanghai Park Slump: Disney had to lower ticket prices to boost attendance at its two-year-old Shanghai park, but that’s not the story at most properties around the world. The company saw its overall theme park revenue jump 9 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter.

Ethiopia’s Nascent Luxury Tourism Market Starts to Take Hold: The question is not whether hoteliers and operators should invest in Ethiopia, but what is best for Ethiopia in balancing these new demands while protecting its people and its profound history and cultures.

Business of Airlines

Airlines Hope Algorithms Can Finally Fix Their Drink Carts: Passengers sitting in the back of the airplane hate it when an airline runs out of food for sale. But airlines also hate waste, and they usually must throw out uneaten fresh food the same day. How do airlines decide how much food and drink to board? It’s a delicate dance.

Committee Leadership Changes in Divided Congress Will Be Mixed Bag for Travel Industry: The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, controlled by opposing parties, will be at loggerheads over many issues related to both the travel industry and travelers. However, there will be plenty of wiggle room, if not on airplanes with reduced passenger legroom, then in the halls of Congress, where some legislation will undoubtedly get done.

Wellness and Millennials

Direct-to-Consumer Healthcare Gets a Millennial Makeover: A brand like Hims (and now Hers), which makes it easier to gain access to health and wellness at a lower cost, all while touting smart design, knows what it’s doing. And it will probably see the revenue to prove it.

Corporate Travel? It’s Complicated

Corporate Travel in China Means Managing Complexity: While China is an attractive market, it’s traditionally been a tough place for corporate travel. Joint ventures between global travel management companies and Chinese travel providers are combining local market expertise with travel management standards to reduce friction for corporations.

Skift Travel Advisor Editor Maria Lenhart [[email protected]] curates the Skift Travel Advisor Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send her an email.


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Tags: fees, luxury, travel advisor innovation report, travel advisors, travel agents

Photo credit: Nolan Burris thinks travel agents should avoid the 'fee' word at all costs. Future Proof Travel Solutions

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