To survive and thrive as a travel agent today, you have to think out of the box…big time. Many clients are no longer satisfied with just seeing a destination’s highlights and getting their photos taken in front of the iconic landmarks. They want to have experiences that are authentic, experiences they can’t wait to share on social media. For some, part of the fun is the experience, for others bragging about it.
One of your jobs as a travel agent is to get out there and have these experiences yourself. That can help you seal the deal with your client, especially if it’s an experience that might take them out of their comfort zone. If you’ve “been there done that” yourself, you’ll convey your own enthusiasm and help dispel any fears they may have. Here are some experiences to consider for your clients.
• Take the night train between Hanoi and Lao Cai: It’s a magical experience, leaving Hanoi around 9 p.m. and waking up as dawn breaks in the mountains near Sapa, a spectacular region that’s home to Hmong, Red Dao and other ethnic communities of Vietnam. Comfort is part of the experience, as the train has private cabins (with two or four berths), air-conditioning, a small bathroom down the hall and a little keepsake amenity bag.
• Bike Around Copenhagen: In the Danish capital, where at least 50 percent of the population commutes by bike, you’ll want to join in. The city has dedicated bike lanes everywhere. As a visitor, you’ll enjoy rolling along the 800-year-old streets, by the waterfront, over bridges, through the parks.
• Become Anthony Bourdain: Visiting a local person’s house is an experience that is increasingly made available through DMCs around the world. We’ve arranged visits (and have done them ourselves) in Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Vietnam. In each case, the client meets with a family—whether for tea or a meal—and has a front row seat to how they live.
• Wing it over Victoria Falls: It’s one thing to see Victoria Falls; another to soar over them like a dragon fly. The ultimate in bragging rights for those heading to Zambia or Zimbabwe, is to take a “Microlight” sightseeing flight over the Falls. They are essentially motorized gliders, so you are out in the open air, but they are very quiet and fly lower than helicopters.
In general, always be on the lookout for connections to big sporting, musical or theatrical events. They may translate to behind-the-scenes passes, good seats and other goodies that can help you make a client’s dream come true.
Book experiences like these and your clients will come back raving and bragging about their trip.
Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (FarewellTravels.com), a travel design firm based in Westport, CT. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.