Pushing the Conversation with Clients
It sometimes seems difficult to elicit good feedback, to get a conversation going with your clients. Too often we only hear from clients when things go wrong. Or worse, we don’t hear from them at all. The smart travel professional pushes the conversation and makes it happen. Without that initiative, the client is soon distracted elsewhere and the next booking can happen without our input.
It is not difficult to understand how clients find themselves suddenly attracted to other travel channels and opportunities. As individuals, we are surrounded by thousands of brand messages each and every day. Stop right now and count the brand messages you see in front of you. My computer is an Apple, my word processor Microsoft, my watch is a Polar, my calculator is a Texas Instruments… That short list of brands does not even begin to cover the vast number of exposures I have each and every day to marketers attempting to grab my attention.
But some messages get through.
If Keen sends me their newsletter, I read it. I really enjoy my Keens… I have three pairs. One pair has been all over the world with me. Once my laces broke after three years of use, and I wrote a teasing letter to the company. They sent me a new pair of laces. I feel the same way about my Polar watch and my Jeep. What I notice is the brands that are closest to me, the ones I feel the greatest personal benefit from, are the ones with which I most enjoy conversations.
Notice this is not just a matter of frequency. I probably use Microsoft more than any other brand. I depend on Microsoft day-in and day-out. But somehow, it’s not personal. Yet, now that I am a Mac and iPad owner, I look at every email Apple sends me. I think it interesting that Apple has actually personalized computers more than any PC brand has managed to do. It is highly likely my next several computer purchases will be an Apple.
The brands that stand out in life are the ones that are adept at becoming the most personal. Their interest in me interests me.
We jump from PR efforts to newspaper ads to Facebook and Twitter in a frantic attempt to find the best medium to break through the noise and get our client’s attention. But it’s not the medium that matters. It’s the message. What you say has to relate to the client – it has to “strike a chord” with them.
Work on your authentic relationships with clients. More than any other single effort you can undertake, become a good conversationalist. But remember, there is really only one topic to speak to: your client, their travel ambitions, and their dreams. That’s it. Don’t talk about your agency, your competence, your training, or your suppliers UNLESS you can relate it to how it benefits your clients. Make it personal; make it about your clients.
Not all of the conversation will be positive, and not everything will be perfect. But the conversation is the thing. If your clients are speaking with you, then you are top of mind. Speak to them about their needs.
Be a good conversationalist. Talk to your clients about their travel ambitions. Your clients will talk back.