Clients are a great source of new ideas. Their travel ambitions are the stuff of which your practice is made. Their hobbies, interests and pursuits are fertile ground for ideas for marketing to other clients. Some of your clients will be quicker to pick up on cultural trends and leading edge destinations than others. But if you plot your best clients over a period of time, you will likely see trends and activities that will merit your attention.
In order to properly mine your clients’ ideas, you have to engage them at the level of conversation designed to gather feedback. Client surveys that range from topics as far reaching as travel dreams and aspirations to more particular questions about frustrations with travel planning and booking are important. Surveys can be taken in written form or as interviews and discussions during face-to-face encounters. Try to establish a rapport with clients that is open and encouraging of suggestions and feedback. Clients will pick up on inefficiencies, problems and wasted time quicker than you might. These issues are opportunities for new ideas and marketing concepts as surely as are new destinations and activities. When a client understands that you are interested in their comments, you deepen the client’s investment in the relationship, empowering the client to assist in shaping the course of the travel planning process.
The people with whom you work are one of your best resources for new marketing ideas and suggestions. Front line agents see clients close up, and with a different perspective than might upper management. Ask employees what trends they are observing in client interactions. Involve staff in brainstorming sessions. Don’t limit staff meetings to “happy talk”. To foster trust, allow employees to also express complaints or concerns, but moderate intelligently without censoring. Listen to everyone without criticizing, and let them know that they are being heard. Listen openly. Allow people to fully express themselves without becoming defensive. Try to understand the position from where every team member is coming. If a complaint has validity, is likely that others will also express their concerns. Ask for the group to help develop a solution for any problem, to offer suggestions. Make a note to follow up on any progress the following meeting.
Consider offering awards or other recognitions for new marketing ideas or improvements. Clients and employees want to be involved in the story of your agency. Give them that opportunity and you might find yourself a strong group of company evangelists!