Clients have short memories. Unless you find a way to stay “top of mind”, clients can easily be distracted by the first pretty travel opportunity that walks their way. With every newspaper travel section, television commercials and consumer magazines filled with travel advertising, your clients will see lots of different avenues to fulfill their travel desires. You want them to think of you when they think of travel, but until you have them properly trained, it is easy for them to be distracted elsewhere.
As simple as it may 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 say “I run across great travel opportunities to [pick your destination] all the time. Would you like for me to send them your way so you can browse them?” Asking for permission to communicate with clients is an important step in gaining the trust Read the rest of this entry »
A good first impression is a key element in establishing the tenor of your relationships. Whether you are meeting clients for the first time, being interviewed by the press or speaking before a room of people, people evaluate you very quickly. The first rule of good first impressions is to always be yourself, smile and relax. Put the other person or people at ease, and you are well ahead of the game. You do not have to give up any aspect of your unique personality to create a good first impression. Read the rest of this entry »
We started the week out discussing the importance of setting expectations. We have covered how to be assertive, to make good first impressions and how to be heard. But all of the above is of little benefit without a simple ingredient: clarity on what you want to convey to the world around you. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about you. Your conversations with clients are going to be predominantly about what THEY want. However, as a professional, the course of the conversation should be directed by you. Without clear direction, you and your clients will talk to each other rather than with each other.
We tend to have an unrealistic assessment of the degree of clarity we possess about even our most basic needs and wants. Let me give you an example. Read the rest of this entry »
How can you be certain the person to whom you are speaking hears you? I mean hears you in a way that lets you know that they were really listening? How do you persuade someone that your point of view has legitimacy? How do you make the emotional connection necessary to good communication without losing control of your emotions? Good questions all. The travel agent with a loyal following is almost certainly an expert in communication skills- a worthwhile study, indeed. Read the rest of this entry »
Listening is a very important part of conversation. Yet, if we are honest, most of us would admit to needing to sharpen our listening skills. Listening well means we not only hear what the other is saying, but striving for understanding. Paying close attention to conversation means listening carefully and not being distracted by what is going on around you. It also means quieting your own internal dialogue. When a person perceives that you are engaged in what they are saying, they more quickly respond to your comments and suggestions. In fact, listening well is the first step in being heard. Read the rest of this entry »
Not every travel agent is comfortable being assertive. Yet, unless the travel counselor takes charge of their many relationships, they risk performing far below par. There are times when an agent must be assertive with clients, with co-workers or suppliers. But how can you be assertive without being “pushy” or rude? Is it possible to be assertive, maintain integrity and still be fair to all involved? It is, and an analysis of how to properly assert yourself is a valuable tool in communicating with others.
First, understand the appropriate context and definition of being assertive. Being assertive is different from being aggressive. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday we established that your brand is the total sum of people’s perceptions about your company (or about you personally as a travel agent). Too often, branding happens without any intentional thought or direction – the company’s brand simply evolves from customer experience. If the travel agent is very good at what he or she does, excellent at communication and customer service, an unconscious approach to branding will work, but never as well as a directed, focused branding strategy. The goal of a branding strategy is to create an association in the mind of the public with you and travel – when clients think of travel, they think of you in the positive light you intend. In fact, they would not think of traveling without thinking of contacting you. It is possible to build this sort of strong, emotional connection with your clients and the public but it requires a concerted and consistent effort on your part. Read the rest of this entry »
Speaking in front of a group is daunting to many travel planners. Yet, it is one of the most effective ways to market a travel practice. By virtue of being in front of an audience, you are deemed an expert and therefore a valuable “go-to” resource. Speaking in front of groups is one of the most important ways travel professionals can raise the profile of their travel practice in a community and gain new clients.
Learning the art of public speaking is not as difficult as many think. A few tips will have you on your feet in front of a group in no time. The secret to being comfortable speaking in public is to know your subject matter well. Stick with topics you know, to which you can speak extemporaneously. There is no substitute for practice.