If you believe that travel consulting is primarily a business of establishing and maintaining relationships, then you probably also place a high value on the role of trust in the relationship. Loyalty is founded on trust and will often convince a client to work with you over any alternative. It is trust that induces a client to take your suggestion over their own initial impulse or to try something just because you indicate you think they should. Trust is a powerful motivator for a client. So how do we build trust into our marketing plan?
First, understand what trust is. When a client has trust, they possess a belief in your integrity, reliability, honesty, and competence. Wow. Those few words indicate a lot about the importance of trust to your client relationships. Companies that have the trust of their clients have more latitude in the risks they can take, the suggestions they can make, and their approach to problem solving.
Trust is firstly demonstrated through competence – a mastery of subject matter.
But by itself, competence is not enough. A trustworthy travel agent also has a commitment to their clients, and the clients know it. In other words, the travel consultant’s mastery of the topic of travel is applied to the service of the client in a manner so to be immediately observable. Your know your stuff, but you hopefully carry your knowledge with a grace that demonstrates an easy mastery. The language of the travel agency’s brochures, website, and other collateral will speak to the benefits for clients, not merely to the features of the agency. Third-party testimonials will back up the travel agent’s own claims. There is integrity in the voice used in the marketing copy, an inherent honesty of expression and is consistent throughout.
The client who trusts their consultant will feel empowered, better educated, and knowledgeable for having dealt with the travel counselor. Industry jargon will be explained, problems will be anticipated in advance, and the client will know that the agent is available in the event of a mishap. The trusted travel agent will have an appropriate degree of empathy and will be capable of understanding the concerns, even the fears, of the traveler and will recommend appropriate steps. A travel agent looking to incorporate trust into their practice will orient every possible aspect of their marketing plan to be client-centric and will recognize every client as an individual – no cookie cutter vacations or travel planning allowed.
Your client’s interest in you will be the sole product of your absolute interest in their well-being. It’s called enlightened self-interest in economic terms, and when properly displayed and cultivated, trust grows.
Actually, it is almost that simple. To be trusted by your clients, be trustworthy – and demonstrate it at every point of contact in your practice.