Months ago, I did a series of columns on what travel professionals could learn from practitioners of other professions. From barbers to waiters to yoga instructors, we took a look at the valuable skill sets other professions developed to engage their clients. A recent encounter with another true professional reminded me of an important omission I wish now to correct.
Good bartenders are almost a breed apart. Alternating between multiple clients, these professionals have developed a skill set useful to travel consultants. The most accomplished bartenders deftly manage their many clients while effectively multitasking their way through the evening. Let’s look at the characteristics the most proficient resourcefully exhibit.
Great Listeners – We often speak of the similarity between bartenders and therapists. The skill they share with psychologists, however, is not their knowledge of the subconscious, but their ability to listen well. Great bartenders make their clients the center of the world for a period of time and they hear them. Too few people feel heard. Give your clients your time and they will give you theirs.
Empathy – the best bartenders go well beyond mixology. The ability to make a good drink is not the sign of a great bartender, it’s the pre-requisite. The best provide an ambiance in which to enjoy the beverage. Likewise, the best travel professionals are not merely schooled in destinations and supplier product, but also understand and practice client relations in an empathetic context. Your clients have fears, concerns and great expectations. They greatest service you can provide begins with understanding their needs and work to achieve a rapport and a relationship.
Ownership – the best bartenders rule their bars. They are there to serve you but they also decide who gets to partake. Those with a bad attitude, those who are unable to participate in the bar’s ethic and standards are shown the door. Bartenders know the importance of sales and are always making recommendations and practicing suggestive selling. Ultimately, however, those who fail to be good clients are cut off and asked to move on. The lesson here is easy enough to understand. Bad clients are a drain on energy and resources better lavished on others.
There is no better time to learn these valuable skills than right now. As they saying goes, it’s 5:00 somewhere.