This week we are going to look at what happens after a client decides to work with you. We want to think about important customer service items you can introduce to your travel practice to ensure client satisfaction and a continued relationship resulting in an ongoing book of business from a given client.
Once the client has decided on an itinerary, but before the client has returned home, what steps can the travel consultant take on behalf of the client? A deposit on a vacation is the beginning of a new phase of the relationship requiring additional steps to ensure the client’s peace of mind and satisfaction with your services.
Most travel consultants recognize the “sale” is not over until the client is back home in bed: there is no end to the sales and marketing process. We have a tendency to artificially divide the process of working with a client into a marketing phase which moves into a sales phase and on into a service process. The truth is, however, no such clear markers in the process of working with a client exist. We are always marketing ourselves, we are always selling and re-selling our services. Intuitively and intellectually understanding the comprehensive nature of the business relationship is important to the travel consultant wanting to move beyond isolated transactions to customer loyalty and repeat business.
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Let’s begin with the most simple of concepts. The client anticipating travel is both excited and anxious. Their investment decision is made, but the client remains concerned. As the travel professional, it is your responsibility to assuage their anxieties and ensure the highest possible return on their decision to work with you.
The first task before you is to set expectations. The number of times you will reach out and touch your client from deposit until departure will depend on the time frame. A trip which will not occur for a year will have a different rhythm of contact from one happening just next month. However, as a civilian your client will not know what to expect. In fact, some clients will have unrealistic expectations of which you may be unaware. Thus, you serve both yourself and the client well by introducing a time table. Explain to the client what they can expect from you between the deposit and the departure. Set clear payment schedules, and let them know when they can anticipate hearing from you over the departure time frame.
Tomorrow we will discuss how to fill some of the touch points during the time frame and how to reach out to your clients to assure them as the time for departure approaches.