Working with agents and resellers can be good for your business, especially since its their job to sell the right trips to the right customers. Plus, they can help you secure more last-minute bookings from travellers already in your destination.
On the other hand, it can tricky when you work with multiple agents and resellers, from a hotel concierge down the road to a large travel retailer on the other side of the planet. It can be difficult to keep track of all the moving parts in your business like the number of bookings made by each agent, customer information collected, commission that needs to be paid out, and so on.
To make this business relationship more profitable for both parties, here are some tips and tricks to help you out.
1. Communicate clearly
First and foremost, communicate clearly and consistently. You want your agents to send you customers who are not only interested in what you do, but who will also appreciate how you run your trips. You don't want them sending a family of four on a tour meant for young backpackers.
So apart from communicating what tours or activities you run, you need to communicate your brand too.
To communicate effectively, you should be using the right tools as well. Use Skype or Google Hangouts for longer meetings, send email updates on a regular basis, use WhatsApp or WeChat for urgent or quick messages.
When choosing the right tool to use, pause for a while to check if you're using the right tool for the right type of communication. It is easy for miscommunication to happen face-to-face, what more on the wrong platform with the wrong tool.
2. Establish clear schedules
Speaking of clear communication, set up bi-weekly or monthly meetings with your agents to go through details of both your operations. Having a structured time to run through performance, bookings made or discuss upcoming itineraries can save you a lot of time clearing up miscommunication and mistakes in the future.
Another routine to set up are cut-off booking times for your trips. Make it clear to your travel agents that they can only book a trip X days or hours before it runs, not any later. It helps avoid hiccups and mistakes during a trip.
From your end, make sure to be clear on when an agent's commission is paid out and to always meet that deadline.
Reminders can be easily set up on a Google Calendar, both for a routine check-in and for daily cut-off times.
3. Track performance
Agree on a system to track performance and routinely cross-check numbers with each other. You could use Google Sheets to make collaborating and updating one another easier.
Alternatively, you could agree for your agent to send a quick email detailing all the bookings you got for the period at the end of each day.
4. Update your agents regularly
When you've decided to offer new services and experiences to your customers, remember to update your agents about them.
It's good practice that once every three months, you send over a brochure (hard copy or PDF version) to your travel agents to remind them of what you offer and how your customers have found it so far.
5. Have a plan for when things go wrong
In the unlikely event of a tour or activity going wrong, perhaps an unsatisfied customer or a missed pick-up time, have a Plan B in place. Let your agents know who to call in case of emergencies and who else to call in case the first person doesn't pick up.
You only need one tool: TrekkSoft
To make working with multiple agents a lot less stressful, you should have a booking system that provides everyone the tools they need to make their jobs simpler.
Firstly, your booking system needs to display real-time availabilities so that everyone selling your tours or activities know how many remaining spots you have for each trip. TrekkSoft processes and tracks bookings from your website, your resellers, your partners and even OTAs, and automatically updates your inventory, keeping everyone informed at all times.
Moreover, a booking system like TrekkSoft allows you to work better with agents and resellers because of its flexibility and adaptability. Set commission rates for each agent and generate discount codes for them to pass on to customers.
Your booking system should also allow you to grant different agents different permissions, according to how you've agreed to work together.
Once you've set up TrekkSoft accounts for your agents and resellers, they will get access to booking and payment tools that help them do more with less. Our Point-Of-Sales desk is a popular selling tool that's beautifully designed and easy-to-use. It allows agents to sell trips with any smartphone or tablet.
Working with resellers and agents can help your business reach more customers locally and internationally. While mobile sales for last-minute bookings may be going up, in-person sales efforts and recommendations from locals cannot be negelcted.
At the end of the day, travel is all about making new connections with other human beings, and your agents and resellers should have all the support they need to develop positive customer relationships from the very beginning.
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.