It’s been a busy year for me — speaking at industry events, presenting webinars and conducting training programs for travel pros. In nearly every program I try to focus on, or at least highlight, the importance of communicating your real value.
Far too often, travel consultants assume that their clients already know all the work that goes on “behind the scenes” to craft the perfect trip. With all the flashy and seductive online alternatives competing for their attention, it’s a very risky assumption to make.
These days, travel consultants cannot afford to assume that any client or prospect already knows, or will remember the real value of using a professional. The most effective way to get the message across is to tell the truth – the whole truth. And, as a bonus, you also become more aware of what it is you actually do that is valuable!
In my early days as a travel consultant, simply being able to interpret the hieroglyphics of a GDS was priceless and inspired awe in any client watching me bang out the cryptic code of a PNR. Today’s smartphone surfer would hardly be impressed. Reservation making and price quoting are important, but won’t likely be viewed as particularly different from popular websites and travel apps. That is, until you tell the WHOLE truth!
Here are some scenarios to start your thinking
Truth: “ABC Cruises has a $500 discount, plus a $100 shipboard credit.”
Whole Truth: “I researched several different cruise lines to find the best fit for your desires. I wanted to be sure you got the most for your money, and I found a way to save you $500! I can even get you another $100 to spend on whatever you like onboard. It took some time, but it was worth it for $600.”
This is the WHOLE truth. Yes, there are deals and discounts everywhere, but YOU are the professional who takes the time to sort the real ones from the rip-offs, and ensure that your clients don’t just get a deal, but that they get the RIGHT deal for the RIGHT trip. Tell them about it. Until you do, they’ll just assume you did what they could have done themselves.
Time and Effort
Truth: “I have a price-quote for Italy ready. It’s $200 off, at $2,300 per person.”
Whole Truth: “I spent two hours yesterday, and three hours today, working on your trip. I researched the most reputable tour suppliers, checked their current customer satisfaction ratings, and looked at our own database of past clients as well. After narrowing things down, I had a phone conversation with two of the suppliers this morning to ensure your desires would be fully met with their offerings. I also chatted about it with my colleagues and called our network headquarters. Finally, after making some tweaks, to better meet your needs, I focused on getting the best price possible. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. I even saved you $200 each. So, instead of $2,500 per person, you’ll only pay $2,300!”
While the specifics are always different, there are always specifics! Your clients have no idea just how much work you put into those “price quotes.” It’s time to tell them.
Connections and Relationships
Truth: “I recommend ABC Cruises because they are a preferred supplier.”
Whole Truth: “There are a lot of choices for a quality cruise experience. But, there are some very meaningful reasons I am recommending ABC Cruises. They have a strong reputation with a very high customer satisfaction record. They are financially sound so you won’t have to worry about your vacation investment. But most important reason of all is this: we are a preferred agency of ABC Cruises. We have a close, personal relationship with them, and a dedicated representative we know well. If something should happen to go wrong, we are far more likely to get it resolved than if you were doing this all on your own.”
Preferred supplier overrides and bonuses matter to travel agencies. But the truth that matters to your clients is the benefit of the relationships and connections that come with them. Truth matters, and if you’ve truthfully chosen to align yourself with suppliers that deliver the quality you seek, tell your clients all about it.
Selling the real value of using your travel agency is not hard. You don’t need fancy gimmicks or clever marketing phrases. You just need to tell the truth – the WHOLE truth… every time.
Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry. He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada. Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.