After the client has made their deposit, but before they have returned home, the key to great customer service is client contact. The number of occasions you reach out to touch a client during the pre-departure period will depend on the amount of time between deposit and departure. However, the smart travel consultant will recognize the need to continually assure the client all is well and their vacation investment secure.
Travel Research Online has a number of programs you can use as vehicle for client contact. For example, our destination guides (registration required) are free to travel professionals and can be private labeled by your agency. Send your client a destination guide soon after booking and prior to departure. You could also include a video of the destination from TRO, the tourism authority or YouTube. Many of the new destination guides include videos you can email to the client. This type of media does much to keep enthusiasm high. The little bit of time you spend in sending the destination guide and video is well invested. Use one of TRO’s e-postcards to give the client a “count-down” to departure.
Be sure you have reviewed the clients’ passports where applicable early in the planning process. Ensure names are correct, especially with newlyweds, and that expiration dates exceed 6 months beyond the time of travel. Discovering a problem too close (or after) departure is a sure path to a bad day.
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Once you book a client to a destination, keep your radar active for any mention of the destination in the trade and consumer media. Any article of interest can be forwarded to the client along with a note. You can be sure your client is on high alert for any press, so attempt to beat them to the punch. Set up a Google Alert to notify you of any mentions you might otherwise miss.
Staying tuned in to current events in the client’s chosen destination is particularly important in the event of any negative news. Clients are very sensitive to any geo-political, environmental or economic news affecting their travel plans. It is far better they pro-actively receive their information from you rather than the 24 Hour news cycle. Let them know you are on top of their plans and will stay there for their benefit.
Certainly you will be contacting the clients when their travel documents arrive. First, go over the documents yourself to ensure everything is in order. Then, cover the documents with your clients. Remember some of the items in their documentation, for example vouchers, may not be familiar to the clients. Explain the importance of each item. When you provide them with their documents, also provide them with a packing check-list.
Just prior to departure, do a final run-down with the client. Again ensure their travel documents are all in order and their passports, visas and other important documents are at hand.
A lot of work? Absolutely! But when methodically approached as a part of your standard operating procedure, you will find your clients appreciative and taking ownership of you as their travel professional.