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Sales Training for Travel Agents – Sales Psychology and Emotion

Last week, we established the need for a psychological shift when dealing with clients, away from a “sales” process to a “buying” process. Likewise, we have discussed the need to shift the client’s mind set away from price to focus on value. Now, let’s look at the requirement of engaging the client at an emotional level. It is at this point that many sales people, travel consultants included, become uneasy with the buying process. The idea of appealing to someone’s emotions to effect a financial transaction can go awry if the motivation for the transaction is not client-centric. The travel consultant’s goal must be to encourage the client to travel – if indeed that is what the client wants to do. In the face of all of the rational, intellectual reasons not to travel, the travel consultant is a coach, reminding the client of the value of travel to a lifetime of experiences and even to well-being.

Consider the roll of a sports coach. Certainly the intellectual, technical aspects of a sport have a place in the coaches’ sessions with the athlete. But the technical aspects are not enough. The coach believes in the value of excelling and will appeal to the emotional side of play – to competitive desires, to the need to compete and win. Without the emotional, aspirational side of the psyche, the player is merely technically proficient; good enough but unlikely to excel.

Likewise, a good travel consultant will encourage the client to engage in the romance of travel at a visionary level. So much of the value of travel is tied up at an emotional nexus in the client. The opportunity to meet new people, to experience new things, to encounter new cultures. At a purely intellectual level, the client will be able to list a dozen different reasons NOT to travel. There are plenty of other interests competing for those same travel dollars. If the travel consultant truly be lives in the life-altering value of travel, the time spent engaging the client’s imagination will be well spent.


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Begin by fully understanding the client’s motivations for travel. What does the client’s travel history say about their reasons for travel? What does the client like to do in general? What are their hobbies? With regard to this particular trip, what is the motivation for travel? How does this destination, this trip, tie into the client’s needs and desires? Without knowing these elements of the client’s psyche, the travel agent will be operating without a full set of criteria with which to engage the client.

Too often, we make a presentation and then ask the client the wrong question: “What do you think?” Instead, ask the client a more important question “How do you feel?” It is the feeling function we are hoping to engage as the client’s travel coach. Give the client ownership of the trip by relating it back to their needs and desires. Help them to imagine themselves on the streets of Stonetown in Zanzibar wondering in a maze of alleys and shops, or on the beaches of Corfu swimming in the bluest and warmest of water. Describe to them the experience of walking by the Seine on a warm night in Paris or staying in the castles of Ireland. Tell them about their accommodations, the excitement, the dining and the experience. Put them in the destination.

If you can tell that story well, more of your clients will be traveling this year.

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