What are sales calls?
Sales calls take different forms. The stereotypical idea of the verbose Englishman talking rapidly to an unwitting prospective customer is dead. It certainly has no place in the travel representation industry. Sales calls are much more about relationships. Two entities, the travel representation company and the travel agent, who already have a close relationship, impart knowledge in a way that makes it easier for the latter to sell or persuade prospective travellers.
Despite the modern sales call being a two-way street, we as a travel representation company are very much pitching our clients to the travel agent. We also hear direct traveller feedback from the travel agents. This includes their destination preferences, their previous experience and their willingness to travel to a new destination. This information is fed back in a systematic way to our clients. Together we utilize this information to craft new, more effective campaigns for the future.
How do sales calls work in the travel representation industry?
As a travel representation company we have a diverse number of sales calls that we undertake. In part, it depends on what the client wants, but also what is most effective for our target audience. The most common form takes place in our weekly visits. We go to travel agencies, sit with the teams, explore our client’s offerings, field any questions they may have and share content that they can use in their social or printed media. On occasion, our clients are able to come to the region. In that case, we set up a special tour of each of the major travel agencies, and take time to ensure that they are all given time directly with the client. This normally forms part of a wider mix of activities, particularly special events, which are a separate part of the marketing mix. Sometimes our clients need specific feedback on a specific topic. In these cases, we’ll use the phone and email to collect data and share that data directly with our clients.
Why are sales calls important?
The regional context is important here. In the Middle East, the travel agent is still the dominant point of sale for the travel industry. Yes, there’s an increasing number of people who book online, especially for business travel, but when it comes to the main family holidays, the travel agent still rules the roost. Now, with that in mind, it is also important to note that even those who book at travel agents often do significant amounts of research online before they go to the travel agent, which is why it’s so important for all of our clients to have a multi-layered approach to their marketing, ensuring that there’s a marketing touchpoint at every stage of the buying cycle. Ultimately, the travel agencies need to know what they are selling. They need to feel confident that the destination they are offering to their clients, many of whom will have a long-standing relationship with the travel agent, is to their satisfaction. Therefore, an agent cannot sell what he does not know. This is the importance of sales calls, to ensure that agents sell with confidence, as well as to help shift the market share of destinations away from our competitor destinations to our client’s destinations.
What’s the wider mix of activities?
Sales calls alone aren’t effective at achieving these aims. They need to be part of a wider mix of content, experiences, and events that all work towards the objective of driving deep awareness of a destination. These other parts of the marketing mix are important too, and they include:
- Consumer direct marketing: Travellers are increasingly researching their destinations themselves, so it’s important to have access to a large number of your target market so clients can advertise to you. Fortunately, at Gulf Reps, we have a large platform of Arabic speaking international travellers to whom we can market our client’s offerings.
- Events: Small boutique events in luxury hotels, or large trade shows. Whatever the event, for most of our partners in the industry, attendance is mandatory. We ensure that the time is best utilised by setting up the right meetings with the right people.
- Familiarization Trips: Agents who go on familiarization trips can talk with absolute confidence about the destination and are able to sell it significantly more effective.
- Influencer testimonials: By their very nature influencers have a voice that can be utilized by our clients to deliver messages to prospective clients.
- Reviews: Reviews in English and Arabic on the main review sites are a really important part of the mix, especially for hoteliers.
In the end….
Sales calls are still an extremely important part of the sales and marketing mix in our industry. They serve as a bridge between clients and those selling their destinations or hotels. Whilst the digital revolution of the travel industry has shifted some of the research phases of the buying cycle online, in the Middle East the actual purchase is still most likely to occur at the travel agent.
Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.