In my last column, I wrote an article about how the rules of dating can be applied to your business. Today, I would like to delve into that theory a little deeper.
Anyone who has been in sales for any period of time has been told time and time again that they need to “qualify” their clients for the best fit. While that’s a good idea, I think that qualifying yourself may be an even better idea.
You don’t have to spend too much time on any travel agent message board to find an agent with a client horror story. You hear them all–the client who wanted a round the world luxury cruise for $500.00, the client who called screaming from their destination because the water in the pool was the wrong shade of blue, or the client who blamed their agent because they contracted food poisoning while traveling. At some point we have all had to take on a less than desirable client. And why do we do it? Because we’re afraid to turn away a sale; and we convince ourselves that maybe it won’t be as bad as we think. So we qualify the nightmare client and hope for the best. But a frog is a frog, and all the qualifying (or kissing) in the world will not make this nightmare turn into Prince Charming.
A few years ago, I sat down and made a list of the qualities of my ideal client. I’m not just talking about a niche here, this goes well beyond that! I am talking about the travel agent’s version of a personal ad. Let me show an example.
“Single travel agent from Ohio seeks discerning clients who appreciate the value of great service, and are planning a honeymoon or destination wedding to the Caribbean or Mexico with a budget of at least $5000.00. Must be easy to work with, have good communication skills, and pay promptly. Bride and groom must trust my judgment, not pester me with price comparisons, and truly enjoy being able to relax and let me handle all the work for them. Client must not be afraid of commitment, and be willing to pay a deposit for our services upfront. “
Now, this may seem a little unrealistic, but by clearly defining what you do want, you can weed out a lot of what you don’t want! I don’t want a senior’s bus tour of Atlantic City, a school ski trip, or a price shopper. By clearly defining my ideal match, I know exactly who to market to, and what kind of advertising appeals to them. And rather than wasting ad dollars on ads that may or may not attract the client that I want, I know exactly where the client I described in my “personal ad” will be looking for me. I am rarely contacted by anyone other than the kind of client described in my ad.
Why not take a couple of minutes to think about your dream client? Who are they? Where do they want to go? What kind of budget will they have? What kind of trips do you get excited about planning for them? It doesn’t matter if you have been in this business ten days, or ten years, it’s never to early or late to start looking for your ideal client. You really don’t have to settle for one that isn’t kind to you, doesn’t want to go to destinations that you’re not excited about, or want you to work on a trip for 6 hours so they can book it online. There’s a right client out there for all of us. Once you’ve defined who they are, and refuse to settle for anything less, your business will grow more than you ever could have imagined. Now for a challenge. Write your own personal ad and post it in the comments!
Laura Frazier, founder of Bliss Honeymoons, is a graduate of the Travel & Tourism program at Ohio University. As an experienced agent who has enjoyed success as a honeymoon and destination wedding specialist, Laura is committed to finding new and innovative ways for home based travel agents to excel in their careers and build their business through the Bliss Honeymoons licensed dealership program. For more information, call Laura at 614-286-7799 or visit her site at http://www.blisshoneymoons.com/blissdealership.html