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Reading between your customer’s lines

Are you paying attention to what your clients are saying?  I am not talking about hearing what they tell you; I am talking about actually listening to what they say, and more importantly what they don’t say!  In reality, it is what is not said that might be a more direct line to increased sales for you–if you will only listen!  Let’s take a look at two fictional conversations that might be happening in your travel life right now.

Conversation 1

Tommy Travel Agent: Hi there Tammy Tourist, this is Tommy Travel, how are you today?
Tammy Tourist: Oh pretty good, running a bit ragged right now.
TTA: Well, I won’t take too much of your time, I was just contacting some of our clients who hadn’t traveled in a while to say hello and to see if there were any travel plans on the horizon that we might be able to help out with.
TT: Well with my son and daughter in college, we haven’t had too much time (or money) to do much traveling. I think the last trip we did was that Royal Caribbean cruise four years ago.
TTA: Ah yes, I remember that—it was the Mediterranean—always beautiful in the summer.
TT: Yes it was, boy I wish I could go back to Europe today. It is so beautiful over there.
TTA: It certainly is. Well, I won’t keep you any longer. Thanks for taking the time to take my call. Do you mind if I follow up with you maybe this time next year to check in?
TT: That would be fine. Hey, thanks for calling, it is hard to find someone that believes in service these days.

Conversation 2

TTA: Hi there Victor Vacationer, it is Tommy Travel Agent from Tommy’s Travel Treasure Trove, how are you this afternoon?
VV: Doing pretty good—how about you?
TTA: I am taking a few days after the Fourth and  giving our best clients a call to just say hello, remind them that we are still here and ready to help with any travel plans you might have.
VV: Cool, well, you guys handle all my travel—you know that. You know, me and the new wife were thinking about getting away for a bit but it just isn’t possible right now with my work load. Got any great deals you can send me?
TTA: I hear you on that. Everyone seems to be running ragged these days. Tell you what, why don’t I make sure you are on our email list and that way you can get our newsletter and there might be something that catches your eye. We feature affordable specials all the time.
VV: Sounds great, my email is victorthevacationer@compuserve.com
TTA: Awesome, again, thanks for being such a great customer—we need more like you. Have a great weekend!

So what did you learn?

From conversation one you learned that there was no vacation in the works, there are two children in college, the last vacation was a Mediterranean cruise, she enjoyed Europe.

From conversation two you learned that the client is not planning a trip any time soon, but seems like they might be interested soon. You also learned of an email address for your newsletter and that he recently got married.

And you got a “no” from both.

So what now?

Here is the part where you kick your listening into high gear and make some educated assumptions. From those two conversations, here is my takeaway:

Conversation 1: Money is tight and they are paying for a good portion or all of two college educations. This indicates that within 4 years, there may be up to $40,000 of disposable income. The client has an affinity for Europe and the beauty. Obviously keep in touch. The touch points may be cruising and Europe. For now it may be mass market, but in a few years it may be luxury or FIT. Before they are prepared to travel, they might be interested in giving their children a graduation gift of Europe—Contiki? And perhaps the most important aspect I noticed is that she puts a heavy value on service and is not necessarily concerned with price. She brought up the service first. This is a client that has many more years of exploring to do. Losing touch would be criminal and knowing their current financial situation and presenting options that fit into that situation will cement you as a valued consultant for life!

Conversation 2: This is a solid middle class client, possibly blue collar. He has a new wife and has not planned a honeymoon (remember, he said Tommy handles all his travel) yet. He seemed busy and short like it was not a good time for a long drawn out conversation. He is agreeable to getting the newsletter and offered up a current email address. This is a client who really has no idea what he wants and will look at the suggestions you send. For this client, I would suggest inexpensive Caribbean adult-only all inclusive resorts. I would approach him with the concept of a “starter honeymoon” and explain that many couples cannot afford a 7 night or longer honeymoon and are opting for a shorter 4 night trip with the thought of a 7 night or longer down the road when his world is a little less stressful. Again, you are offering empathy with his situation and an alternative to his problem—not having a honeymoon. As an added bonus, you may be earning him brownie points with his new wife.

By making some reasonable assumptions and truly listening to the conversation, we now have a clear path to follow to make sure we continue to earn their business. With more knowledge and information about your clients and prospects, you have more power to provide the best experience for them and grow your business. Rarely do I not learn something new about a client—kid graduating, promotion at work, death of a parent, need to get a first time passport (now you know when to remind them to renew), divorce, wedding, birth. All of these events in a person’s life impact their travel and for the success of your agency, you need to be there to interpret them.

Do you read between the lines?

 

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