Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch is urging travel agents to identify the value they provide to clients – and communicate it clearly to shift perceptions and increase their compensation.
Upchurch made the comments in an interview with Agent@Home columnist and Azamara Cruise Line President Larry Pimentel. The interview was published in May’s issue. Click here to read the complete Agent@Home interview.
“There has been no significant repositioning of ourselves as professional travel advisors, as opposed to merely transactional agents. So clients are largely unaware of the great value that a professional travel consultant brings to their ultimate vacation experience,” Upchurch said. “And because most clients simply have little to no awareness of this, they have no way to assess the tremendous value we provide and, in turn, have no willingness to compensate us for it.”
Virtuoso is championing the perception shift from transactional agents to professional advisors. The network’s Agent to Advisor Leadership Group has been examining the value advisors provide at each step of the vacation planning and booking process.
“This major Virtuoso initiative has articulated that travel counselors’ value stems from a combination of factors: our guiding principles that drive our counsel, our background and expertise, our extraordinary relationships that provide access and opportunity for clients, our processes to match a travel experience with each client’s desires and our ongoing training and education,” Upchurch said.
Once advisors understand their customers’ visions for great travel experiences and identify their value in providing those, they can state their worth clearly and effectively to their clients. “Every time our clients discover the genuine value of a professional travel advisor, they’re more than willing to compensate fairly for that invaluable expertise and service,” said Upchurch. “As a result, we’re watching our bottom lines increase and our cash flow become more positive. So we urge all travel consultants to join in this reexamination of our profession’s value in today’s marketplace to reap similar benefits.”