How can travel agents compete with online travel agencies?

With so many options to find, compare and book travel experiences online, traditional travel agents face greater competition than ever before.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While many online travel agencies offer discount prices, they often also provide a sub-par service that’s left many customers stranded, desperate and out of pocket.

If you can provide second-to-none customer service, leverage great technology and join forces with a global travel powerhouse, you won’t just compete against online travel agencies, you’ll excel.

Provide highly personalised solutions for your clients

While it may feel convenient for customers to click-and-collect a holiday from an online travel agency, as soon as their payment has cleared, that’s often the last they’ll ever hear from the company.

Unfortunately, many customers run into problems throughout their journey and find they need assistance before, during or after. This is when they curse their decision to use an online agency and wish they had the support of a professional travel agent.

At Travel Counsellors, we’re there for our customers from the moment they make an enquiry until long after the flight home has landed.


Travel Counsellors take pride in creating highly personalised travel experiences for their clients. From the first point of contact, and by asking lots of great questions, they’re not just glorified booking robots, they’re using all their travel expertise to curate perfect itineraries customers will remember, and come back for, for the rest of their lives.


Let’s face it, travel emergencies happen. Whether it’s missing a flight, losing documentation or issues with a third party supplier, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get out of a mess and realising your online agency offers no support. Travel Counsellors are always there to help travellers during an emergency, through our:

  • Duty office - 24/7 emergency support you can access to help get your customer back on track
  • Admin support - If the client’s travel emergency has to do with ticketing, documentation or a third party company, the admin team will take control
  • Operations team - Masters in logistics, if a flight is changed or cancelled, ops will help book a new one or organise emergency accommodation


If you ask a traveller which online booking agency they used for their last trip, chances are they wouldn’t remember. This is where travel agents really have an advantage. By maintaining touchpoints with customers long after they return home, you’ll stay front of mind when it’s time to rebook. By providing excellent service before and during their trip and then following up with simple gestures such as a birthday email or keeping in touch via social media, you’ll create a relationship, and customer for life.

Make use of technology

Technology is your friend and when you use it well and combine it with stellar customer service, you will be an unstoppable force.

In 2018, Travel Counsellors invested a staggering $12 million to bring our network Phenix, the latest in streamlined booking technology, as well as the customer friendly, myTC app. Not only do they both improve customer and agent experience, they’ve increased Travel Counsellors conversion rates by 25%. It’s a win-win for agents and customers alike!

Be transparent

Many online booking agencies charge hidden fees that bump up their bottom dollar, or terms and conditions that aren’t in favour of the customer. As a Travel Counsellor, you can advocate for your customer, guide them through the hidden clauses and be completely transparent about fees. These are the small things your customers will be thankful for and remember for years to come.

Specialise in something you love

While it’s important to have a broad knowledge of travel, it’s impossible to be an expert on everything, all the time. If you have a passion for a certain region of the world, love curating business travel itineraries, or have a background in adventure holidays, becoming an expert in that field will allow you to market yourself on these expertise. Not only will it help you stand out in the market, you’ll be providing an extra level of customer service that online travel agencies simply can’t compete with.

Reach out to your existing customers to develop a trusted reputation

Being a successful travel agent is more than just being a travel expert with great customer service skills. You also need the skills to market yourself. While larger online travel agencies have the budget to create ads en masse, there are plenty of other tools to help get your name out there.

One of the most cost effective ways to do this is through testimonials. If you’ve helped a happy customer, don’t be shy in asking them to leave you a social media or website review. Some agents get really creative with this and incorporate video testimonials and blogs.

At Travel Counsellors, we understand the importance of marketing and provide extensive support and training to our network so they can succeed in their business. Just by joining Travel Counsellors, you are partnering with a global franchise who’s trusted reputation will build your credibility and extend your reach.

Need marketing collateral? Our personal brand centre can also help you with practical tools to get your name out there and build your personal brand.

Can I compete with online travel agencies?

While some travellers are happy to risk booking through an online travel agency if they think they’re getting a cheap deal, most prefer the value and peace of mind in knowing their agent is their advocate who will always be there for them.

With the right expertise, technology and personalisation, Travel Counsellors create unforgettable travel experiences that lead to happy customers who’ll stick by them for life. And no online travel agency can compete with that.

If you’re ready to chat about your bright future as a Travel Counsellor, get in touch with our friendly team, today.