Just a few more days of spring-cleaning work to be done. Today, we want to take some time to determine exactly how effective your array of client communications are.
Examine the clients that have booked travel with you so far this year. How did you attract them? Did they first come to your website? Perhaps they were a referral or responded to direct mail. Were they new or existing clients? Whatever worked for you then, you should escalate in frequency. But also take the time to review the various channels through which you are communicating with clients. In a service business, the tangible quality of your client communications is very important, precisely because the services you offer are intangible – a client cannot pick up or hold travel planning. Harry Beckwith famously called service marketing “selling the invisible” in his book by the same name. The professional travel agent is on a continual mission to improve customer perceptions of their brand.
Effective communication builds client confidence in the travel consultant and is essential to signaling value and quality. For this reason, it is important not to over-extend your marketing across too many efforts. It is far better to master a few choice marketing venues than to dabble in a dozen. Do not put unrealistic demands on your ability to market across too many channels. Focus on some basics – email marketing, a newsletter, your website, networking and public relations. Certainly a lot of “buzz” has been generated about social media such as Facebook and Twitter. While these social media efforts certainly have their place in a mature marketing array, their ultimate value for the majority of travel consultants is far from proven and by no means should be substituted for more traditional, tried and true tactics. However, social media does hit on a very important principle that needs to be a touch-point of every marketing effort – engagement of the client. Social media is about conversation. Likewise, all client communications will ideally be a back and forth exchange between the travel consultant and the client. An engaged client is a part of the process and thereby again gains confidence through repeated interaction with the travel agent.
Look carefully at each of your outbound client communications. Does each look professionally produced? Is your brand message clear and well articulated consistently in each? Is your client receiving communications frequently enough to feel engaged but not so frequently as to feel spammed or harassed? There is always a fine line to walk in determining the right frequency with communicating with clients, but part of an intelligent communication strategy is precisely the effort to determine the necessary frequency which may well differ with each individual client! Good marketing will always solicit feedback from clients.
Next, look to the content of your client communications. Based on your client files and your clients’ interests, are your communications relevant? If your clients have expressed an interest in safaris, are you sending them articles or specials on cruising? Don’t miss the mark on this important point. Use your CRM system to its fullest. Clients want materials that benefit them, and will quickly begin dismissing what they perceive to be no more than disconnected commercials.
Your clients will utilize your services when they perceive you as trustworthy and competent: qualities that are reflected in every client communication. Demonstrate you can produce the results you promise in your client communications by sharpening their appearance and fine-tuning the way in which you engage your clients.