Credible marketing is empathetic marketing that places the client at the center of the process and is needs based. In theory, we all agree that the client is the key ingredient in the travel planning 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, analyzed closely, might help us improve our sales philosophy and ultimately, our sales revenue. To be truly client-centric, you have to be able to translate your story in such a way as to include your client. You have to see the world through the client’s eyes. You have to intimately understand what they need from you. In fact, as the expert, you should understand their needs better than do they.
The temptation in many cases is to attempt to impress the client with your industry knowledge or with the many positive attributes of your travel practice. You have been to Hawaii 30 times, you have been in the industry for 20 years, your consortia is widely known as the industry leader in custom travel planning. Those are all important attributes, but they sound to your client like a sales pitch. Instead, explain each of those by relating them to your client. Explain how they benefit from your many years in the industry and from your intimate knowledge of the destination. In short, say to the client “I’m going to take care of you and ensure you achieve the travel you really want.” A good travel consultant is listening 70% of the time and speaking only 30% of the time during the initial fact-finding. Most of the “speaking” involves asking good questions designed to understand the needs of the client.
This 365 Marketing and Sales Tip is provided free to the travel agent community by:
Put the client at the absolute center of every travel planning effort. As you perform your travel planning rituals, go to extraordinary lengths to dress the client in exactly the right product. Make sure the tour operator, the accommodations, the airline seat, the transfers and the extra activities fit the client. This requires a most intimate knowledge of the client not just in general, but with regard to this trip in particular. Each travel planning effort deserves its own special few minutes spent with the client discussing they “why” of the trip: “Why are you taking this trip?”. What does the client want to achieve? Family time? Relaxation? Exploration? Cultural awareness? The answers to these questions allow you as a travel consultant to more closely match the product to the client. Once you are finished, if the client were not to go, I’ll bet you would feel badly that they missed out on such a perfectly crafted travel experience.
The psychological shift you want to achieve with clients is one of perspective. Imagine yourself literally moving around to your client’s side of the table. You are not pushing concepts, “deals” or travel product across the table to them. Instead, you are looking firstly at their needs and secondly at the travel products that best meet those needs. Then, together, you arrive at the best possible selection, coaching the client into a good buying decision.
Put the client, not the product, at the center of every planning effort. Your care and craftsmanship will show.