As the career profile and job description of the travel “agent” has evolved into being a travel “advisor”, travel professionals have evolved into much more than order takers. In other words, we’re not just here to process payments and book travel, we are here to guide and educate our clients. Therefore, the heart of our book of business is undeniably built on the trust, respect, and the rapport we develop with our clients. How this relationship is established is critical to maintaining longevity as your clients return to you—their travel guru.
According to Harry Beckwith, author of You, Inc., the FIRST thing to sell is yourself! This is extremely critical and lays the foundation for all aspects of your business. Perhaps this sounds easier said than done, especially when you receive a call and the prospect dives right into the specifics of their wants, needs, and ideas for their upcoming vacation. Whoa, just put the brakes on! If you do not, at this initial moment, sell yourself and your services, you could be headed down a rough road and you will not be in the driver’s seat. Redirect the conversation to introducing yourself, perhaps saying, “That all sounds really wonderful and I’m so thankful you called. You’re in very good hands, let me tell you a little more about myself our company, and how we work . . . ”
As Beckwith emphatically explains, “Inexperienced sales people invariably start their pitches with the price and the product. Only at the end, and perhaps not even then, do they finally sell themselves.” Remember in this techno fast-paced and impersonal world, clients are seeking a connection. They are coming to you because a friend has made the connection, because they want a personalized experience, or because they need expertise. The first thing to sell is yourself – always! We want loyal and long-term clients, which only comes from fostering the relationship. Experienced and successful sales people move in the direction of selling themselves first, then selling their company, and the last discussion point is the product.
Marti Litwin is an independent Virtuoso travel advisor with En Route Travel in Southern California. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Marti shares her value of sharing unforgettable family experiences with her clients. In addition to travel, she enjoys yoga, health and wellness, her 2 children, and an adorable rescued Golden Retriever, Cookie.