I believe the very basis of being a travel consultant is that we have a gift to create a trip, a vacation, a honeymoon…an experience. I can recall a couple of instances where clients specifically told me “Honestly the reason we booked with you, was because you got me excited about my own trip.”
We use that exuberance as part of our toolbox to differentiate ourselves from an online booking engine. Genuine excitement, enthusiasm and care are some of the ingredients we use in crafting a great itinerary and again…experience. I have a pretty candid relationship with one of my repeat clients who recently questioned me about not using “fabulous” or “amazing” while planning their latest trip. I smiled and caught myself questioning–had I lost my mojo?
That particular day I woke up to a flat tire, was running late, and as luck would have it, my client arrived 20 minutes early to their appointment. So when I managed to arrive 10 minutes before scheduled time, it was the client that was waiting on me. Not the best way for me to start a planning session. They realized they were earlier than expected and were just excited to have lattes in hand and get started on their next adventure. I, on the other hand, had not had an ounce of coffee, did not have brochures that I needed. I needed to boot my computer and GDS and get my head in the game.
Being a professional is part of the job no matter what is going on in our own lives and moods, we are here to provide a service and more importantly inspiration to our clients. Luckily I have prepared for days like this. I have learned that I need to create an environment for myself that allows me to tap into inspiration at a moment’s notice.
I have some of my personal travel pictures nearby, the walls in my office feature some of my favorite places in the world, I have seasonal scents that are citrusy and fragrant for Spring/Summer and warm and sweet in the Fall/Winter, I constantly have some light upbeat music playing, I try to have as much light in my office to waken all the senses for me and clients that walk in. Even if I am on the phone or communicating via email, I believe all that still carries over in my voice and emails. During down time or research time, I like to save images or clippings of the emerging destinations or trending sites. That way when I get a request and I can extend that excitement for that place even if I have visited yet, I am just as interested as the client.
We are all human. And being a never ending supply of inspiration and creativity at the drop of a hat is not the easiest task on certain days. If maybe we can plan ahead and tap into sources for those lulls, I think we still can provide that “wow” factor for when clients need it most. Do you have anything you do to keep yourself inspired? Feel free to share I’d love to hear about them.
Mary Jo Salas is a 3-year veteran of the industry working for Alamo Travel Group. Alamo is a full service agency with government, business and leisure travel divisions based in San Antonio, Texas. Mary Jo specializes in honeymoons, family vacations, and couples’ getaways and also serves as the Southwest Chapter Vice-President for ASTA.