Human beings blink 15,000 times a day, and while it’s for less than half a second every time, that means we spend the equivalent of nine days of every year with our eyes closed.
“Blink” was the title of this year’s Advantage conference onboard MSC Fantasia, emphasising the unprecedented pace of change within the industry, be it technological, legislative or commercial, and how agents must adapt to these changes or risk being left behind.
A fascinating piece of video research shown at the conference, for example, highlighted the alarming fact that typical 12-14 year olds have little or no understanding of what travel agents do or why they should use them.
To think some of the children interviewed for the video might be only three or four years away from booking their own holidays, and yet seem so unlikely to put that business agents’ way, wasn’t encouraging.
And yet it wasn’t all doom and gloom: the research suggested that if agents can engage with young people more successfully now, then those youngsters could still be brought around to the idea when the time comes. That could be as simple as a cheap virtual reality experience like Google Cardboard, offering free Wi-Fi in-store to make their store experience more enjoyable while their parents are booking, or striving to involve children in the booking process so they get a sense of the value an agent adds. Working with schools and community groups to educate young people on the role of the travel agent could widen the net even further.
And with millennial shoppers returning to the high street in an interesting way – researching products online, but still enjoying the high street to make the purchase – the high street agent that has given a little more thought to the retail experience they offer will have everything to play for.
If your customer base is predominantly an older demographic, it’s easy not to concern yourself with how you are perceived by those who are yet to be holiday bookers themselves. But one thing’s for sure – it’ll be here in the blink of an eye.