Is corporate travel to Europe in your clients’ itineraries? Here’s how you can cash in on Brexit’s immediate and long-term impact to increase your company profits.
Now: Take Advantage of Low Airfares by Upselling Luxury Travel Services
When Britain voted to leave the EU last month, U.S. travelers to Europe felt an immediate reward in their wallets. The cost of U.S. travel to Europe is at a 3-year low according to Hopper research. This, despite the fact that we’re in the middle of the peak summer travel season.
Graphic courtesy of www.hopper.com
A combination of 3 factors has conspired to keep travel costs down:
- Historically low exchange rates: The US. Dollar’s appreciation against the euro and pound – which plunged to a 31-year low – has Americans getting more bang for their buck.
- Reduced oil prices: The cost of oil is now half of what it was in 2014, making aviation more affordable.
- Dwindling demand: S. travel to Europe has dropped in the wake of regional terror attacks and a growing refugee crisis.
What started out as a soft-demand travel season has evolved into a low-cost travelers’ paradise…and an abundance of lucrative business opportunities for travel management professionals.
Upselling is Key in this Market
If you’re a travel agent, discounted airfares and hotel rates throughout the UK and Europe afford you a unique upselling opportunity. Travelers who were previously priced out of the luxury market can now afford to splurge – on first class and business class travel, upscale hotels, high-end car rentals, and more. So whether your clients are booking travel for business or pleasure, now’s the time to upsell for more profitable deals.
And you can expect the sales to continue throughout the summer. CNN Money reports that prices will remain lower than normal as long as the political uncertainty lingers.
Always: Enrich Customer Experience
Amid all the upheaval in the UK and throughout the Eurozone, travelers will have more questions than answers. Step into your role and manage their travel seamlessly. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Anticipate Change
Just now, everything from travel regulations to trade agreements to air passenger rights is subject to change. Make sure to stay informed. Walk your clients through new regulations and have knowledgeable staff available 24/7 to clear up any confusion.
Remember, over-the-top service transforms clients into ambassadors of your brand. Go the extra mile to deliver a flawless travel experience for your customers.
“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until he knows how much you care.”
- Damon Richards
- Reassure and Encourage
Some savvy travelers are uneasy these days. With talk of redrawing maps, shifting currencies, and modifying border control agreements, uncertainty rules.
Despite the possibility of changes that could be brutal for UK travelers, U.S. travelers will be least affected. The U.S. Travel Association noted that, “Visa agreements are bilateral between countries, so our mutual visa agreements with Britain will remain the same, regardless of membership in the EU.”
In a similar statement, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Executive Director and COO Michael McCormick said, “GBTA remains committed to the same principles it always holds strong: ensuring business travelers maintain freedom of movement, business is not disrupted, travel infrastructure remains strong and programs and bilateral agreements that facilitate safe and secure travel like the EU-US visa waiver exemption continue.”
You may have to do a little more hand-holding than usual, but let your clients know that for U.S. passengers, at least, it’s business as usual.
- Help Travelers Navigate Longer Security Lines
How will Brexit impact airport security? Well, at UK airports, customs lines will get a whole lot longer.
Until now, EU passport-holders were processed on separate lines from U.S. passport holders. That’s about to change. With all travelers going through security and passport control together, the wait could be exasperating for hurried business travelers.
You can alleviate the wait. Help clients take advantage of expedited security checks. Many business travelers already take advantage of U.S. entry programs like Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. But do your clients know that U.S. passengers can take advantage of the Registered Traveller Program by speeding through UK e-passport gates at 7 UK airports, as well as in Paris, Lille, and Brussels Eurostar airports?
All they need is a biometric passport and a fee of about $109 per year to qualify. Get your corporate travel clients on the fast-track through customs and they’ll be forever grateful.
What’s Ahead: New Banking Centers in Europe?
Britain has long been considered Europe’s financial capital. But that status has come into question with the Brexit referendum. Some of the largest banks have announced plans to cut jobs within the UK, while some hinted at the possibility of moving their headquarters elsewhere.
Where is the future financial hub of Europe? Nobody knows for sure. But as a travel industry professional, be prepared for all eventualities.
More complex itineraries? Check.
More tickets to Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and other centers of business? Check.
This is a great time to take another look at your pricing negotiations with European airlines in anticipation of major changes to European business travel. Take advantage of the uncertainty to negotiate the most favorable deals possible for your clients, especially in first class and business class.
Global Business Travel Spending Breaks Records
Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding Brexit, there’s one light spot. In a news release on July 11, GBTA announced that global business travel spending topped a record-breaking $1.2 trillion in 2015, and is expected to reach $1.3 trillion in 2016 and $1.6 trillion by 2020.
According to Mr. McCormick, “Global business travel remains a critical driver of the success of organizations around the globe. Business travel has demonstrated a tremendous resiliency…even in the face of global uncertainty, a weakened global economy, terrorist attacks, world health issues and other obstacles. Companies across the globe clearly understand the return on investment business travel delivers for their bottom line.”
And here’s the most exciting data for U.S. travel agents: U.S. business travel spending grew by 2.2% in 2015, and ranks second in the world for spending, just behind China.
Business Travel Market Chart courtesy of Global Business Travel Association
In the wake of Brexit, let’s focus on positive travel trends. Discounted airfare, increased opportunities for customer service, and a growing travel industry translates into upward growth prospects for corporate travel agents.
So rev up your team, empower your clients, and get set to grow.
How has your travel agency used Brexit as a springboard for growth? Share your ideas in the comment section below.