This is part 6 of a 7 part series by Terry Denton.
Part 2: Ask for referrals on every sale
Part 3: Master the art of upselling
Part 4: Always recommend insurance
If you want to build a loyal clientele, and this is a must for long-term success, it is not enough to woo your customers, you have to wow them! How exactly do you do that?
When it comes to travel planning, we have a phenomenal tool that some of you are probably utilizing. Others of you…. brace yourself for a little straight talk here …should probably be charged with criminal negligence if you’re not!
Travel Leaders (our franchise) and many of the suppliers have invested huge sums of money in developing several unique programs to facilitate the special touches for clients. You can create specialized destination booklets and customized and personalized itineraries and much more. You don’t beed a franchise or a consortia to do it–most cruise lines offer a similar planning tool. Ask about it and use it! Weissmann Reports is a good start!
When customers receive our information personalized to them, they invariably exclaim “WOW”. Sadly, there is one category of customer who is totally unimpressed—the ones who never receive it. And why do some customers miss out on this experience? It is because an agent did not take the two minutes (literally) it takes to build a trip file. This may sound harsh but it is something some of you need to hear.
If you are not happy with your income and yet are unwilling to invest two minutes to ensure your own success, you have no one to blame but yourself. Companies spend a lot of money developing the programs to assist you in your sales. It is a certainty that these programs will eventually be terminated if they are not supported.
This is only one way to hit the WOW factor. The secret is getting to know your customer so well that you know exactly what would work for them. That is why CRMs were invented. If you are not using one, you need to be. ClientBase is affordable to every agency and it (or similar) is a tool that you cannot live without. Whatever you do must be personalized. Do not market a world cruise to your families. Do not market spring break to your seniors. Let your customers know that you know them!
Have you ever sent a boring bottle of over-priced, mediocre cruise line wine to a client? Yawn! Why not find out they have an obsession with KitKat candy bars (and who doesn’t) and send them a couple to drop into their carry-on just before they depart? It costs a lot less than the bottle of wine that they probably won’t like, but has a much greater impact. Do something they would never expect. Show you were paying attention to their likes and dislikes when you were chatting about their vacation. It may be a cliché but it really is true: it is the thought that counts. A very small but thoughtful act usually carries more weight than a routine and perfunctory larger one.
You don’t necessarily have to exert the same level of effort for every client. Not all customers are created equal. But when you find one of those customers that have a high lifetime value, treat them like platinum. The rest treat like gold and silver.
Want a few down and dirty easy suggestions….
- Send customers information about dining in the cities they’ll be traveling to and offer to make them dinner reservations. Most of this can be done online.
- How about giving your customers a quart-size zip lock baggie with travel-size suntan lotion in it? This will get them started on the gels/liquids bag and they can add their own toiletries and not forget anything.
Here is a challenge for you. Do something small and personal for every booking you get this month and let me know how it went!
Terry Denton is co-owner of Travel Leaders / Main Street Travel of Fort Worth, Rowlett and Tyler, Texas. He is an inveterate traveler, proficient writer, avid golfer and, by his own reckoning, a fairly unremarkable person. Terry claims to have more degrees than a thermometer and less native talent than a first round American Idol reject. He and his business partner, Vince Ashwill, have managed over the past twenty-seven years to build a reasonably successful chain of Travel Leaders agencies spread across North Texas. As you can probably tell, he doesn’t take himself too seriously but he takes the challenge of building a team of successful travel agents very seriously. And last but not least, he writes an entertaining travel blog calledTravelByTerry.com.
Editor’s note: This article was initially published with a reference to a program that is no longer available. We have made the correction and regret the error.