Last week, there was a good discussion on a Facebook group about touching base with seemingly long lost clients. The poster asked what type of questionnaire or survey could be sent to find out why former clients are no longer booking travel with their original agent. Of course clients will come and go, but knowing why they left is a good thing to know if you want to continue to grow your business. Clients can leave for very good reasons—and that is fine. Often they leave because of something that went wrong.
Why do clients leave?
Clients can leave for any number of reasons. Their lifestyles change. They move. The economy. Kids. And yes, as hard as it is to believe, they also leave because of bad experiences with agents. We should always strive to do a better job regardless of how good of a job we are actually doing. I always recall a statistic that Vicki Freed told me back in her Carnival days–80% of second time cruisers did not book their 2nd cruise with the same agent that booked the first. That is a huge number and should be a concern to everyone.
How do you find out why they left?
I am not sure a survey or questionnaire is the way to go. Think about it. Would you answer a survey from Best Buy when you didn’t buy a television? From Chevy when you ended up buying a Ford? Questionnaires are fantastic for current clients with whom you have a relationship—they are your advocate and will usually help you out.
With your current clients make sure that their needs are being addressed. By asking the right questions, you will find areas of your business that can use improvement. Make sure you check the social media websites for intelligence as well. Today, people love to tell their stories to the world—warts and all!
You might find that you are not responding fast enough for their needs. Maybe they are finding prices a lot cheaper elsewhere. Maybe they didn’t like the color of your dress. The more you ask about the experience with your current clients, the better positioned you are to keep them and to woo new ones. When asking, make sure to cover the whole experience from discovery to post travel. What did they think of your website? How were they treated during the consult, the booking, and document delivery? And of course how was the trip?
Don’t restrict these questions to larger trips—remember your corporate clients and those just traveling to Orlando to rent a car and visit with Aunt Gabriella. If you look deep enough, you will see areas that need improvement. Address these, and your client list will grow. Ignore them and it will shrink. As for the one hit wonders that never repeat? The only advice I can give is to worry about the factors which you can control.
Keep in touch
But, it is always a good idea to keep in touch with your clients. I am not talking the monthly e-newsletter that may or may not be read. I am talking about a post card, letter, e-mail, or phone call. Face it; travel is not an everyday activity for everyone. Let them know you are alive and well and kicking. Ask about their lives and document it all. I have a personal goal to learn two new things about my clients with each personal touch. It might be the name of their child’s school…their pet…that they just got engaged, married or divorced. All of this is prime information for you to effectively market to them throughout their life as a client. Quite often, that phone call or that Christmas card may be all it takes to trigger a booking.
In the end, if you want your business to grow, you need to work your business constantly and massage and knead it. Developing a solid program of feedback and proactive conversation will ensure that you are well on your way and you will not be so concerned about what might have been.