Survey results reflecting input from nearly 2,000 Ensemble members indicate a shift in sentiment among consumers in what they value most about working with a travel professional.
And the findings certainly bode well for the agency community.
In a first-ever Ensemble Agents Make A Difference Survey of members in the U.S. and Canada, findings indicate their expertise and know-how far outweigh price when asked what skills and services their customers appreciate most, specifically*:
- 65% Product knowledge (i.e., differences between cruise lines, hotels)
- 53% Destination knowledge
- 30% Help in emergency situations
- 26% Special deals/amenities (i.e., upgrades)
- 22% Time savings
- 11% Price
“To have price come in dead last tells us we’ve turned the corner when it comes consumer awareness of the real value a travel professional makes in creating extraordinary vacations. The days of ‘Can you get me the best deal?’ are gone – and hopefully for good,” said Carl Schmitt, VP – head of marketing for Ensemble Travel Group.
In other survey activity, assistance with air travel was the most called upon service during a trip, specifically*:
- 67% Air
- 48% Tour/land
- 32% Hotel
- 25% Cruise
- 6% Car rental/rail
And what generation/demographic is the most appreciative of agents' expertise? Results show baby boomers topped the charts at 78%, followed by a distant second of Generation X at 17% and Millennials at 5%.
Also as part of the survey, Ensemble members were asked to submit top customer service stories for a chance to win a free registration to the 2018 Ensemble Travel Group International Conference and a voucher from Delta Air Lines toward air travel to the annual convention set for Oct. 24-28 at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Winners were: Marc Hayes of Custom Cruises, Ormond Beach, FL; Veronica Kastukevich of Custom Travel, Wallingford, CT; Shelley Ewing of Tier One Travel Inc., Calgary, AB; and Philip Beck of Personal Travel Management, Burnaby, BC. The contest was part of the organization’s 50th anniversary activities, which will be celebrated with great fanfare at the annual gathering.
Ensemble members’ customer service skills will certainly be tested this summer as survey results indicate a banner season ahead when compared to the same three-month period last year, specifically: 17% Up Significantly (more than 25%); 39% Up (5-24%); 34% Same; 9% Down (5-24%), and 1% Down Significantly (more than 25%). “With product and destination knowledge appreciated by clients, not to mention a strong summer in full swing, there’s never been a better time to be a travel professional and a member of our thriving organization,” said Schmitt. The Ensemble Members Make A Difference Survey was conducted in May and reflects input from more than 1,800 travel professionals in the U.S. and Canada.