Good agents can leverage their advantage web competitors, says Miles Morgan Travel managing director Miles Morgan

In 2019, customer loyalty is harder to achieve, with more types of holidays and ways to book them than ever before. It is the thing that everyone strives for as customer acquisition costs rise in all channels, especially online.

While sending e-newsletters and traditional direct mail are standard routes to try to achieve success, anyone can do this. You need to do those things, but they don’t really give you cut-through.

As a traditional bricks and mortar-focused business I have fixed costs, but I have a huge advantage over the businesses I deem to be my greatest competitors.

I started my travel career at an independent high street agency when the competition was Lunn Poly down the road, Thomas Cook next door, and the like. These days they are no longer my competitors. I compete primarily with suppliers offering direct bookings and online brands.

Leverage the advantage

They have the low-cost advantage, but I have that special face-to-face relationship that gives me a bigger advantage, if I leverage it fully, when it comes to client retention and loyalty.

We do all the standard activities a business does to retain clients, but we add in the mix what others can’t do – the face-to-face “we love you” activities, things that faceless power brands can never do.

A few examples: two weeks ago we held a cruise show. More than 400 people attended, including lots of existing clients who get another chance to meet us, and me, to cement our relationship and avoid the need for their fingers to wander and click that mouse. They met suppliers and Miles Morgan Travel staff, they saw the camaraderie among us and felt the warmth of a great, closely-knit team and an atmosphere you want to be part of.

I also held a VIP night for 60 of our top clients for our Wells shop. They listened to Hisham Mahmoud from Kirker talk about ‘hidden Europe’, interspersed with wine from that area and a talk from a local wine merchant. The wine was served by myself and the MMT team and we mingled in a charming, warm atmosphere where our clients felt the love.

Finally, last weekend I hosted more clients at the Gloucester v Bath rugby match. Banter, food, fun and a few drinks later, I had some great friends who are far less likely to click that mouse. It was a great event, both socially and for business – not a bad mix!

Understand your clients

All these things are all really only possible with on-the-ground staff who know their clients. The opportunity for me to stand directly in front of our clients and thank them for their business is so much stronger than any letter or brochure I can send to them.

I have 15, soon to be 16, shops, but anyone on the high street can do this, even with one shop. Leverage your face-to-face advantage for future success and client loyalty. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge, that it works and is a whole bunch of fun!