As the expert in a professional relationship, you should set the tone for every meeting with a client. One of the best possible ways of communicating your professionalism and seriousness is by choosing well the location for your meeting. The set and setting of each client encounter is important for establishing the client’s confidence in your ability to properly handle their travel plans. Business meetings make up some of the most personal contact a travel agent might have with a client. Even in the most informal of settings, there are protocols and a standard etiquette to follow that can make the difference between the success and failure of the meeting and the relationship.
Many client encounters begin with a telephone call. In every instance, moderate the circumstances under which you answer your phone. If the surroundings are too noisy or confusing, simply let your call go to a professionally recorded voice mail and return the call as soon as you are in a more serene environment. Don’t allow a noisy office environment to impinge on your telephone time with clients, and ensure that staff knows how to answer the phone professionally. If working from home, make sure that pets and children do not interfere with the ambiance of your call. Likewise, if you have a poor connection, apologize and offer to call back. Few things are as exasperating as trying to make sense of a poorly connected call.
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Choosing the place for the meeting usually involves either an office, a public venue or a home setting. Any of these may be your own or the client’s. When the venue is of your choosing, make sure that all aspects of the setting are optimal for your meeting. Pay attention to each of your five senses. Ensure that the lighting is adequate, the noise levels are conducive to discussion, the setting is private enough for confidential matters, the temperature is neither too hot or too cold, no strong odors predominate and the setting appears orderly and calm. Take each of these factors into consideration well prior to your meeting as a matter of planning. Ask that you not be disturbed if meeting in your office. Arrive slightly earlier than your client to check on your setting if meeting outside the office.
Turn off your cell phone so you can give your full attention to the client. You are in a meeting: you can ignore other calls! If you have presentation materials, handle them in a planned and orderly manner. You client will want to perceive you as highly capable and well organized. After all, you are in charge of planning their travels!
Dress appropriately for the meeting. Avoid heavy cologne and perfumes as many people object to strong smells. If you are in the client’s venue and you don’t know where to sit, simply ask. When you control the venue, direct your clients to a seat. Most business relationships are initially formal. As the parties get to know each other, the degree of formality may relax, but always maintain a professional demeanor.
Your choice of an exterior environment reflects your inner landscape. To project the appropriate confidence and professionalism, choose and control your environment well. Your sales success will improve as a result.