Mary Portas, the retail expert in the UK, was a keynote speaker at the Advantage 2011 Conference in Madrid last week. Portas described the changing retail landscape and argued that agents had to adapt by offering customers more service and more information. Although she did not have an answer to the problem of agents being mined for information and then going away to book on-line, she did have some powerful things to say. As she acknowledged:
�There will always be under-cutters and consumers who think they know it all. You need to find a system that gives people back up and if they don�t use you they don�t get it,�
But agents can raise their game:
Portas urged agents to modernise their approach and build their relationship with consumers:
1. Offering products which meet the expectations of the travellers � there is increasing demand for authenticity and for being able to choose the experiences that you want. Portas is reported as saying “You have to shift your marketing away from this will change your life to “I understand your life, I get what you want”. It's about offering integrity�. “The high gloss has gone; now they are saying we understand your world and we want to be part of it.” Emphasising that it is no longer about selling the hotel, the consumer is increasingly interested in the experience. There is advantage in being able to tell them about the special things they can do in destinations, not all of them need to be purchased.
2. Portas also pointed out that consumers expect better products and endorsed the idea of giving back: �The high gloss has gone; now they are saying we understand your world and we want to be part of it.� �. and warned agents not to dismiss the green revolution. “The world has gone green, it's cool to be green and consumers want products that are good for them and good for the world.” She added �”Consumers are behaving better and they want us to behave better too. People know that greed has got us the world we have today and most now want to be more generous,”