Clients have short memories. Unless you find a way to stay “top of mind”, clients can easily be distracted by the first pretty travel opportunity that walks their way. With every newspaper travel section, television commercials and consumer magazines filled with travel advertising, your clients will see lots of different avenues to fulfill their travel desires. You want them to think of you when they think of travel, but until you have them properly trained, it is easy for them to be distracted elsewhere.
As simple as it may sound, many travel consultants simply fail to ask for the privilege of communicating with potential clients, and even their own clients, on an on-going basis. People love to talk about travel – where they have been and where they want to someday go. Those conversations are terrific opportunities to say “I run across great travel opportunities to [pick your destination] all the time. Would you like for me to send them your way so you can browse them?” Asking for permission to communicate with clients is an important step in gaining the trust of, and building a relationship with, the public. By doing so you open a door for building ownership of the relationship and creating a strong association between you and your client’s travel ambitions.
But how, and how often, do you speak with your clients? Every month? Quarterly? When they contact you? Best practices would indicate that for you to provide the best possible service to your clients, you should initiate and maintain the vast majority of your correspondence with them. Maintaining contact with your clients allows you to retain the mind-share necessary to stay on top of their travel planning and to be the first person to whom they turn when a need arises. Once we have obtained permission to market to a client, doing so requires very little financial expenditure.
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Is it possible to speak with our clients too frequently? Without a doubt, it is, and many travel consultants rightly are concerned about over-exposing themselves to their clients. The best solution is to maintain contact in a variety of ways, and on a relatively predictable schedule. Your agency’s newsletter is a good way to maintain contact without being obtrusive, as are permission-based travel specials sent to the client when they have expressed an interest in a particular destination or type of travel. Likewise, birthday and anniversary cards are thoughtful reminders of your availability for getaways for special occasions. Welcome-home cards are a must. This is where a good CRM program is important to your practice.
Send clients information on the types of travel in which they have expressed interest. Don’t send cruise specials to clients that have expressly indicated to you that they never want to cruise! Don’t send family travel specials to your young, single clients! Demonstrate your attention to detail and your understanding of client needs by being relevant to their interests.
Finally, don’t forget to stay in touch with your clients after you have made their travel arrangements but before they leave on their trip. This is a crucial time when you can demonstrate your ongoing commitment to their well-being and satisfaction. A quick email letting them know that you are “on the job” and available to them as they travel will go a long way to ensuring that your future with your clients will remain secure.
Exercise – Always ask clients and those you meet for permission to send them emails and newsletters that pertain to the types of travel in which they are interested. Consider investment in a good CRM program to help you keep track of dates important to clients, and send congratulations on those dates without trying to sell anything other than your personality.
If you do not have a company newsletter, investigate putting one together. Develop a system for maintaining client contact on a regular basis, and built around the clients travels, your work on their behalf and their return home. Providing your client with thoughtful and helpful communications is a sure way to keep your services in front of them on a continual basis.