Do you see the light or feel the heat?
Nancy Weinstein, a San Diego indepen-
Traditional and home-based travel agents, most of whom feel the heat of competition from online travel agencies, believe that the key advantage they hold today is their ability to of- fer high levels of service and establish personal relationships with clients. I’ve noticed, however, that the definition of “personalized service” can vary greatly between newer agents and those
with more experience.
Jason Beukema of Whett Travel in Miami
Beach is one of the most successful young
agents I know. He has been in business for
about six years and has never worked in a
traditional retail environment. I invited him
to be a guest presenter on a Travel Weekly
webinar I hosted last week titled “How
to Make More Money as a Home-Based
Agent,” during which he stressed the importance of customer service and communicating regularly with clients.
dent affiliate of America’s Vacation Center,
was also a guest speaker on the webinar. A
home agent for four years, she has a more
traditional book of business, focusing
broadly on cruises and tours, but she is also
obsessed with service, technology and efficiency.
(The webinar is archived on Travel Weekly.com: Click the “Education” button on the
top toolbar to access it.)
She relies on AVC-provided technology
to bring her leads and keep her business organized (she considers the integrated technology platform to be her “assistant”), but
she also believes a key to her success is that
her smartphone enables her to always be
accessible to her clients.
Beukema, who is a member of both Va-
cation.com and Nexion,
“The Internet is my competition, and
1,928-passenger Norwegian Sky to host a “Groove
Cruise” for his client base.
FROM THE WINDOW SEAT
One might well wonder how a home agent
can possibly provide personalized service to
the almost 2,000 clients preparing to take
The answer is that he has mastered social
media, blending high touch with high tech.
He has 50,000 online followers, fans and
friends, and he can efficiently send a “bon
voyage” or “welcome back” note, thank them
for their business or even wish them a happy
birthday via mass customization. Such an
approach might seem impersonal to a previous generation, but he adeptly exploits the
communications platforms with which his
target market is most comfortable.
they’re selling 24/7,” she said. Her clients,
she noted, are often surprised when she
takes their calls on evenings or weekends,
yet she also feels that the smartphone gives
her freedom. She is not tied to a desk and
can take calls or do her email anywhere.
Not everyone is willing to blend their
personal and professional lives so thor-
oughly, of course. Questions came in from
those attending the webinar asking how she
sets boundaries, and one person straight-
forwardly asked, “What about us older
agents who do not quite have the same level
After the webinar was over, Jason sent
this answer: “Maybe that is your niche …
find older clients who like relaxed trips at a
slow pace … call it turtle travel :-).”
That’s not the kind of relationship most
Other questions centered on how to com-
pete with the Internet. But research by the
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