En Route Travel — It’s all relative

Posted on by in Travel Agent Diaries

As the summer madness seems to have come to a lull, the plan for this month was to enhance Client Relations.  Since positive client relations is the key to keeping clients and obtaining referrals, I wanted to be sure a sustainable plan was in place.  In keeping with my mantra, I need a plan that is very streamlined, simple, and easy to maintain.  I’ve broken client relations into 3 parts:  Communications, Gifts, and Client Retention.

Firstly, communication is so imperative!  I have found the timing of my communications and marketing is just as important as the amount of communications that occur.  With a marketing plan already in place, it has worked better to prioritize phone conversations at 3 touch points during the travel planning process – for initial information to plan the trip, right before departure to review documents and issue any reminders, and upon return for feedback and to capitalize on that positive feeling for future bookings.  These actual conversations cement the relationships and have significantly more impact then emails! Always follow up with a recap email to cement what was discussed.

Client gifts that are unique, thoughtful, and personalized always enhance the travel process for clients.  There are a lot of variations on when to present the gifts, what to give, and how much.  I know colleagues that bring gifts with documents, send something upon arrival at a hotel, or have a welcome home gift.  Personally, I’ve found the creativeness involved in the gift is of more benefit than the timing and this is where you show how connected you are to the clients.  A few well-received gifts have been a coffee table book from their destination, special food item reflective of where they are going, plant that grows in that country, or personalized service during the trip.  The issue of expense for client gifts comes into play, but a thoughtful and genuine gift of appreciation need not be expensive.  It is so helpful to brainstorm with colleagues and develop a list of ideas for gifts.  Suppliers are also very generous and usually quite happy to send a welcome amenity with a personalized note at no charge.  Since clients are always delighted to have some type of memento from their vacation or sign of appreciation, I make it a point not to miss this gesture!

Finally, client retention is extremely critical to your livelihood, so there is no room for error!  Not to mention, keeping clients can be just as hard as getting new ones, but building a loyal following is the key to success.  Maintaining high client satisfaction is hard work, especially when some issues are not in your control.  I think if you do your best to demonstrate your value, problem solve when needed, and continuously cultivate the relationship, clients will continue to use and pay for your services.  I have noticed when there is a lapse in my marketing plan (newsletter, phone calls, fyi emails) that people can “forget” to book with me and may use the internet.  In addition to making clients happy, it’s important to constantly be top of mind when they need to make travel plans.

As a reminder that my business is all about relationships, I created a sign for my desk:  Good Client Relations make for Good Business!

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.

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