The single most important thing that you can do for your client relationships is to make your clients feel special. Most of the service suppliers that your clients come into contact with every day do nothing to make them seem special – it is business as usual. That is why the exceptional service provider gets noticed. Think of the way in which certain exclusive hotel chains have built stories around themselves by doing no more than communicating the name of its guest to all of its personnel and then making sure the bellmen, the maids, the service staff all address the client by name. Read the rest of this entry »
There is an art to listening well. Listening is certainly more than hearing what your travel client or supplier is saying. Hearing a critique or commentary is a good beginning, but the art of active listening involves two additional steps that are indispensable to effective communication. If you don’t bring all of the components of active listening into a conversation, chances are you will miss something important. Read the rest of this entry »
Most travel agents who have been in the business for any period of time can tell stories of clients who, in some manner, disappointed the agent in the relationship. The client who took the agent’s hard work and booked direct, or the client who could not be found when final payment was due. The client who goes to the airport without their documents and blames the agent. The client that won’t return phone calls. The client who is upset that the agent cannot find a trip to Hawaii for 7 nights for $499. The client who discovers a cruise $50 cheaper on the internet and is unhappy. In almost every instance, however, the real root of the problem can be found in a failure of the agent to properly train the client and set expectations. Client training is more than just a technique to prevent problems, however. Properly training clients sets the stage for the buying process to occur in the context of a relationship. Read the rest of this entry »
This week, we are going to look at a few simple steps to improve the sales process. To begin, it makes sense to pause and ask an important question: what kind of clients do you want? To some, the question might seem a bit strange. After all, many of us are pretty happy to take clients as we find them. Yet, if it’s true that relationship is really at the heart of every sale, then it behooves us to choose our relationships carefully since we will be spending a lot of time with our clients. Read the rest of this entry »
Is your entire travel practice easy to understand, use and navigate? Are you emotionally and psychologically available to existing and potential clients? Read the rest of this entry »
No travel consultant escapes the trap: friends and family who travel will ask for your assistance. You are the family “travel agent” and, as such, fully exposed to requests for “discounts”, “good deals” and “freebies.” Just beyond your gene pool are the neighbors, acquaintances and friends who want and need your professional assistance.
Friends and family – there is no more accessible, nor unforgiving, collection of clients anywhere to be found. Acting as a travel consultant for close friends and family (F&F) can be something just short of torture when things go wrong. Here are a few tips that can both salvage your relationship and provide you with a close group of intimate clients and evangelists. Read the rest of this entry »
TRO is devoting the next few weeks to assisting agents in developing a 2009 Marketing Plan. Follow along with us each day to gain the traction you need to make 2009 your best year ever.
We have come a long way since our first article in September on a 2009 Marketing Plan. Tomorrow we will launch into the actual compilation and writing of the plan, but first we need an organizing principle, something around which we can build the plan’s point of view.
In theory, we all agree that the client is the key ingredient in the sales process. Yet, when a sale does not go through, it is usually ourselves and not the client for whom we feel badly. This is a completely normal reaction to losing a big sale, but it also points to a dynamic Read the rest of this entry »
I had the great good fortune to spend a few days at THETRADESHOW in Orlando with Laura Frazier of Bliss Honeymoons. We were speaking about the practice of charging a research fee. In a study we are doing at TRO on the characteristics of top travel agents, the practice of charging research fee ranks high as a common characteristic.
Laura indicates that she always charges a fee of $100 with Read the rest of this entry »
We live in a truly amazing time, surrounded by technologies that over the past ten years have made the business of travel consulting look very different than it once did. Make no mistake, the fundamentals remain the same: you must know your product, know your customer and know how to choose from the myriad options to achieve just the right trip. Technology, however, can facilitate that process and good travel consultants are invigorated by the new tools being offered up.
The fact of the matter is that your clients probably are very much on top of technology and enjoy finding out about the latest innovations. Why not enhance your client relationships by occasionally passing along an insight into how technology can improve their travels? Doing so will bolster your image as a confident, capable travel consultant.
For example, did you know that you can use Google Read the rest of this entry »
One of the best opportunities for ingratiating yourself with a client is to pass along a tip about their destination that they could have otherwise learned only by trial, error and experience. By giving your client a bit of “insider” advice, you solidify yourself as an expert in the destination and an invaluable mentor Read the rest of this entry »
During the course of travel planning, clients are likely to raise objections to your suggestions. Typically, the travel agent makes recommendations based on knowledge of both the product and the client. The agent’s recommendations, therefore, are in the best interests of the client. Without a proper knowledge of how to handle an objection, the planning process, and the agent, may be stymied Read the rest of this entry »
The best way to deal with customer complaints is to never give the customer a reason to complain! Go to great lengths to design business practices that accommodate and surround the client with safeguards. Many complaints can be avoided by “training” your clientele, anticipating possible sources of customer dissatisfaction and briefing the client on possible inconveniences and scenerios. When you do receive a complaint, Read the rest of this entry »
Especially for new travelers, try to anticipate the many things that are a normal part of the travel experience and walk through them with the client. A prime example is check-in times. Many travelers arrive at their destination well ahead of the time when a room might be available. As an agent, Read the rest of this entry »
One of the common misunderstandings about marketing is that it is all about hunting down and capturing prize clients. This notion results in frenzied marketing efforts designed to earn attention from travelers and prospective clients. However, sudden bursts of marketing activity Read the rest of this entry »
A simple as it might sound, many travel consultants simply fail to ask for the privilege of communicating with potential clients and even their own clients, on an on-going basis. People love to talk about travel – where they have been and where they want to someday go. Those conversations are terrific opportunities to Read the rest of this entry »
One of the best, most proactive ways to work with clients is to assist them in creating a written plan of their travel goals. Financial planners ask their clients about their retirement plans and financial goals to assist the process of better visualizing a possible course of action – the plan becomes “real”. Likewise, when clients articulate and write down the places they most want to visit during the next 10 years, Read the rest of this entry »
Retaining existing clients is as important as recruiting new ones. When a client returns from a trip, spend a few moments on a special, even formal, call asking the client for information about the particulars of the trip. Solicit the client’s viewpoint on the hotel or cruise ship, the staff and the facilities. Read the rest of this entry »