Most travel agents view “follow-up” as the activities that take place once a client returns home. Certainly following up with a client to assure that everything went well on a trip is an important client and marketing service. But follow-up is a continual activity that begins the moment the travel agent meets a prospective client and ends, well, never! Frankly, follow-up is where many business people will fall short. So much energy is expended in the production of an event, or the generation of a client or the planning of a trip that we tend to go belly-up and float downstream instead of closely tracking the results of our efforts.
One of the best habits to adopt in your marketing activities is to follow-up meetings with a short note or email to the prospective client. When you meet a prospective client, no matter how briefly, enter their name into your database and drop them a “nice to have met you” card or email. Don’t try to sell anything, just let them know your meeting was an event for you worthy of a note. This type of follow-up demonstrates an attention to detail that not all possess – but exactly the type of characteristic people look for in their travel consultants.
Follow-up has to do with the way that you monitor your clients’ ongoing interests and growth in travel as well. The client that has a fondness for cruises now may well outgrow that passion a year from now. New destinations may have been added to their wish list. Following up with client by periodically meeting with them has the same importance as periodic meetings with a financial planner. In fact, too often we treat the entire business of travel planning as though it is an episodic lurch from one trip to the next rather than a coordinated effort at a 10, 15 or 20 year plan. Long-range planning with clients and the necessary follow-up to keep plans on track is the goal of a travel planner that wants to develop life-long relationships.
Following up with clients after a trip is an area where most travel consultants do well. It is natural to want to hear how one’s efforts at travel planning actually played out. Clients will typically want to talk when the memories are fresh in their mind. This is a great time to take care of any issues that may need to be addressed. Spending time with clients upon their return is a way of ensuring that your travelers feel surrounded by your efforts not only before a trip, but well into the afterglow.
Following up is not looking backwards. Follow up is an activity that lays the groundwork for the ongoing relationship. Well executed follow-up is an unexpected attention that you should lavish on clients to ensure that when they follow-up their next trip, it’s with you.