Travel agents say specialising in touring and adventure is a “no-brainer”, thanks to the commission opportunities, support from suppliers and benefits for clients.
Speaking on a panel at the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers conference, the agents shared the lessons they have learned with delegates.
Travel Counsellors’ Angela Marden decided to focus on the sector after training with suppliers during the pandemic, meeting operators at the 2021 Atas conference, and experiencing a tour herself.
She admitted she had the misconception that she would be “herded around” on a tour but found it was a great experience as so much was included.
“You can go and not worry about anything – no decision fatigue,” she told delegates.
“It is a trust thing with regular customers – you know what they like and they trust you.
“It is phenomenal, it is easy…a no-brainer.
“Lots of enquiries are coming in and having experienced it myself, I can answer their questions.”
Zoe Franklin, sales manager at Travel Club Elite, has focused on the sector for the past 15 years and developed partnerships with suppliers such as Wendy Wu Tours.
“We used to be ‘bucket and spade’ but realised the money in touring and adventure; it is a no-brainer,” she said.
“There is a tour out there for everyone, you just need to find the right tour.”
She said keeping up to date with products is vital so she and her colleagues regularly take part in training webinars, events and supplier meetings.
Franklin urged agents to take a tour themselves to experience it first-hand: “When you know about it, your preconceptions will be blown out of the water.”
Fellow panellist Travis Pittman, co-founder and chief executive of tours platform TourRadar, agreed that experiencing tours first-hand is essential but urged agents not to wait for fam trips.
His TourRadar staff are given an annual allowance to book a trip so they can take their own holiday in the sector, rather than relying on suppliers.
He also talked about ‘decision fatigue’, describing how he had taken a cycling tour of the Dolomites, which was adventurous but the logistics, routes, travel and accommodation were all sorted in advance, so he could just enjoy the holiday rather than make lots of choices.
Pittman also urged delegates to inspire potential clients via social media and encourage followers to sign up for emails.
“Email still works, they are gold, they shift deals,” he told the audience.
He said there has been a shift to short-form videos on platforms such as TikTok, which can help inspire travellers – but advised against putting deals on social media to get clients to book.
Franklin said Travel Club Elite sends regular e-shots, featuring client reviews and staff blogs after they have been on trips.
She and Marden agreed that social media channels were better for inspirational posts rather than just regular price-led offers.
In response to a question about adventure tours for disabled travellers, Pittman agreed it is an area he needs to focus on more.
“I broke my leg 11 weeks ago and realised how difficult to get around,” he told delegates.
“We should do more experiences for the blind, deaf and disabled.
“We don’t have it yet on our website but it should be.”