Posts Tagged With: relationships

There are 27 articles tagged with “relationships” published on this site.


Help Your Clients Know Themselves

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 »

Training Your Clients

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 »

The Importance of Picking Your Clients Wisely

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 »

Customer service. Everybody talks about it, but the fact of the matter is, good customer service can be pretty difficult to find.  Think about your day-to-day transactions and how often the companies and businesses with which you deal let you down by failing to deliver even a base-line degree of good customer consideration.

Are you giving good customer service? Here’s the test: how many of your clients i) repeat travel with you more than twice; and ii) refer other people to you? If a high percentage of your clients are both repeat traveling with you and referring others, congratulations! If either of those percentages are looking a bit anemic, however, here’s an infusion of advice. The 365 Guide will be spending this week giving you the five most important customer service rules to put into practice for your travel agency. Follow these simple prescriptions and your repeat business and referrals will begin to climb. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Last Things to Say on a Regular Basis

We have spent this week examining very simple phrases capable of empowering you and those around you. The complex interactions we have each day with clients, work associates, friends and family are largely carried out in language. What we say, and how we say it, matters. Speaking intentionally is an art and a gift.

So today, two last things you should say on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

We all make mistakes and I, in fact, excel at the art. Because of my propensity to err, I also learned early on the value of an apology. Accepting responsibility, taking the blame and apologizing are skills neglected to our detriment. I’m going to refer you to John’s column for this part of my own series so I don’t end up having to apologize to John for stepping on his article!

That gives me the opportunity to speak to a couple of other phrases you should be hearing yourself say frequently. Read the rest of this entry »

A Couple More Things to Say On a Regular Basis

This week we are taking a look at a few phrases holding the promise of making our relationships a bit more genuine and open.  People often walk into situations without a clear understanding of the dynamics involved.  Social mores and our egos are a small but significant barrier not just to authentic conversation, but also to the ability to demonstrate our humanity. Fear of looking bad or saying the wrong thing stands in the way of communicating openly and fully with our business associates and acquaintance.

Here are a couple of phrases, in addition to the ones we have already discussed, that will make a real difference in your ability to put yourself across in all varieties of social and business situations. Read the rest of this entry »

Two More Things to Say On a Regular Basis

The way we phrase both our praise and our criticisms has a significant impact on others’ reaction to us.  We too often react impulsively, letting our most aggressive instincts play traffic cop in our relationships.  When we do so, however, we put the wrong guy in charge.  If there is one lesson we all need to practice, it’s the importance of developing a sufficient emotional intelligence to authentically generate in ourselves and others a rapport that bridges over differences of perspective. This week we are looking at ways of expressing ourselves to accomplish the task of creating an intuitive empathy between ourselves and our clients, co-workers and family. Read the rest of this entry »

Things to Say On a Regular Basis

Travel planning tends to be a very independent enterprise.  You work one-on-one with your clients, often in complete isolation from co-workers.  Independence is a great thing, but carries risks.  We too often lack a sounding board to bounce ideas off and to confirm our instincts.  This week, we are going to explore a series of statements you should frequently hear yourself say to ensure you are receiving the appropriate input from your business associates, your clients and your family. Each of these groups are stakeholders in the success of your travel practice. Giving them a voice can be a great gift to both them and to yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

Reason # 5: This week, we have reviewed some of the reasons your travel practice might not be growing at the rate you want. Today’s fifth and final reason is one of the most difficult to understand at a deep, emotive level. Intellectually, most travel agents understand the need to develop relationships with clients. Emotionally, reactively, however, too often it’s the transaction, not the client, that receives central billing in our marketing campaigns.

A transactional mentality moves from one travel planning exercise to the next, from one sale to the next sale. In contrast, truly successful business people form relationships with their clients, emphasizing the rapport and bond of trust formed between travel consultant and client. As a result, the association with positive travel experiences and the travel consultant is so strong Read the rest of this entry »

Top travel agents develop a particular mind set that gives them an edge in their dealings with their clients. That mind set informs every aspect of their professional relationships with not only clients, but also with suppliers – the tour operators, hotels and receptives that they use. The mind set cannot be boiled down to a simplistic notion of positive thinking. Instead, it is more accurate to say that theses agents have a sense of “ownership” when it comes to their practice.

Top travel agents take full ownership of their projects and professional relationships. Read the rest of this entry »

5 keys to marketing on any platform: #1 Relationships

The marketing world pays a great deal of attention to social media. Go to any trade show, and the social media programs are always packed.  Write an article on social media and your readership will give it far more attention than an article on “Networking.”  Even TRO has a separate site devoted strictly to social media over on www.TROSMITH.com.

Way back when, insightful observers like our good friend Nolan Burris was telling everyone the secret of social media was identical to a good Tupperware party.  We may have missed just how keen Nolan’s early observation was. Read the rest of this entry »

A week of important observations: 5 & 6

This week we are looking at 10 fundamental marketing principles that will provide a basis for consistent and successful marketing efforts. Marketing has as its goal the acquisition of new clients and the retention of existing clients. Our principles for today focus on those two target groups. Your existing clients form your base and provide you with a stable platform from which to operate.  New clients provide the growth necessary to any business as well as replacing business that falls away over time.

Both are vitally important and strongly inter-dependent. Importantly, today’s two principles illustrate that good marketing can be cost efficient, requiring an investment of time rather than of scarce financial resources. Read the rest of this entry »

Setting expectations and exceeding them

The most difficult marketing hurdles travel agents face are the misapprehensions of their clients. Every opportunity you have for repeat business, testimonials and referrals depend on your clients’ satisfaction with your services. Misunderstandings will act as an impediment to client satisfaction. Many consumers do not know exactly what a travel agent does. Especially if the client is under the impression that the travel agent is primarily a retail travel outlet, misunderstandings will occur. It’s a good idea in every instance to demystify travel for your clients and to bring their expectations into alignment with the efforts you undertake on their behalf. Read the rest of this entry »

“First of all – YOU BE NICE!”

We all read so much these days in the current economic climate about marketing, advertising, technology and strategic planning.  And yes – much is talked and written about customer contact and customer relationship management.

It seems to me that when contact with our clients and customers is referred to using some of these terms, that it almost implies a detached and impersonal manner.  Unintentional for sure, but nevertheless that’s how I perceive it!

I’ve spent my entire working life (over 40 years) in the travel industry and I’ve considered every one of those years to be also working in the customer service business.  That’s right – interacting and dealing with people, human beings…..not faceless entities that I have to ‘manage a relationship’ with. Read the rest of this entry »

Love, Requited

The Royal Caribbean Cruises Q4 2008 Earnings Call makes for interesting reading, and serious travel agents should take the time to do so. Firstly, the transcript is an excellent tutorial in the complexities of the cruise business.  But the Royal Caribbean call also firmly confirms the importance of the travel industry distribution chain for the cruise lines. 

It is difficult to go any further with this article without pointing to the great irony inherent in the executives of Royal Caribbean being critically questioned by the representatives of firms whose own financial acumen is best characterized by the word “bail-out.” Be that as it may, Steven Kent of Goldman Sachs asked  “(W)hy isn’t (direct internet booking) more of a focus rather than raising travel agent commissions given the high returns of that (direct booking) strategy?” Read the rest of this entry »

Focus: Decisions and Relationships

There are decisions to be made. The going has gotten a bit tough and smart travel consultants and suppliers are spending a lot of time pouring over their game plan for the upcoming year. While there are no certainties and no easy answers, there are definitively some important steps everyone can take to shore up their position over the coming months. Marketing during a down economy is something of an act of faith. The return on investment is harder to calculate and far from immediate. So the question becomes, very simply, “What Works?” Read the rest of this entry »

Turning Away Business

As hard as the average travel consultant works to build a clientele, it is difficult for many to imagine actually turning away business. Yet, there are times when the smart travel agent should refuse a particular request. Here are a few examples of good reasons for not taking on an assignment. Read the rest of this entry »

Your 2009 Marketing Plan: Be Client Centric

 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 »

Your 2009 Marketing Plan: Your Product Mix

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.

A key decision in any marketing plan is the choice of product you will use in your travel planning practice over the coming year.  It is time to evaluate and re-evaluate your choices of suppliers. At this time you will review even your core supplier’s performance over the past year.  It is essential for a travel consultant to have very solid confidence in the suppliers Read the rest of this entry »

The following is Part Seven of the series “The 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents

Great travel agents charge research fees. As one very bright agent told me recently, “I’m not auditioning to be anyone’s travel agent.” Call it a deposit if you like. Apply it to the client’s travel if you want. Perhaps only charge new clients a fee. But charge a fee up front.

No client who has a $100 service fee with you is going to take your research and book elsewhere. Charging a fee places you in the same professional ranks Read the rest of this entry »