Alamo Travel Group – understanding the travel agent-client relationship
With a New Year come new things and in my experience it’s a packed reception area of new walk-ins. That’s good right? Yes but I learned early on that new clients really meant stepping back for a bit and explaining the dynamic of the travel consultant-client relationship before even opening a brochure.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, when I got into the industry I quickly noticed that many things had changed from when my agency first opened or my colleagues had first started. One of the main things that had changed was the role of travel consultants in the whole equation. I’ve read many great articles on this subject; but how do I explain this change in relationship to the client?
It wasn’t too long ago that I was on the other end where my clients are today. Curious as to what a travel consultant did and why they were even still around. Since I still can recall being on the other end, my first step is to level the playing field. I begin to describe the dynamic of this relationship. It’s a 2-way street, it’s teamwork and it takes open communication. If they are game for this dynamic, I believe I can offer them a great vacation experience; which I believe is their ultimate goal correct?
I think back on many trips I could have improved upon by going to someone who would have guided me through the process. I tell clients I am here to assist you in any way I can to make this trip memorable, seamless and enjoyable which usually is the main objective. Now if they let me, I can show them ways to make this trip truly unforgettable. It will require their participation and us both working towards the same goal. I always chuckled when new clients come in and say that online booking is so much “easier.” While the booking process may seem easier; I find that they understand when I reiterate that the process is not the ultimate goal—it’s an unforgettable experience!
Explaining this objective has definitely helped me tremendously with new clients. Putting myself in their shoes helped me explain the process and set expectations. I must admit that I myself am a “do it yourself” Millennial. For most of my peers, this method of doing business is something totally new. It is a level of service that Millennials probably have never experienced; and older clients have not experienced in a while. Once I explain my role, I find they really like the fact that they don’t have to do it by themselves or at all. No information overload, no worries on what exactly they are getting or just the fact that if they have any questions they can call someone who knows exactly who they are and everything about their trip–someone who has the experience to tell them what to look out for or what to avoid also can save time and money.
I have had many clients almost dragged here by another family member or friend and leave more excited about the trip than when they arrived. Those are the days I love what I do. So for me, I find that if I take a little bit more time explaining the process and relationship, their dream trip is much closer to a reality.
Mary Jo Salas is a 3-year veteran of the industry working for Alamo Travel Group. Alamo is a full service agency with government, business and leisure travel divisions based in San Antonio, Texas. Mary Jo specializes in honeymoons, family vacations, and couples’ getaways and also serves as the Southwest Chapter Vice-President for ASTA.