The manner in which you present your research efforts to clients can make all of the difference in their reactions in your recommendations. Too often, all of the effort that we have placed into our marketing, sales and research swirls around the drain and then disappears because of a weak presentation. Yet, this is the moment at which a travel consultant should be at their best, making a recommendation based on their experience and expertise. It is very true that it is not what we say but how we say it that matters. This is not a sales person’s trick, but a bona fide principle of communication. If you want to be an effective advocate for either your travel client or for travel product, give some consideration about how you present your recommendations to clients.
Create a cover sheet for all of your presentations, whether for an airline quote or a multi-country tour through Europe. Include
your logo on the cover sheet, your name, the date and most importantly, your clients’ names. Indicate that the presentation was “prepared especially for Mr. and Ms. Client” or some other designation to illustrate the effort that went into your work product. Keep the language in your presentation clean and simple. Use short, clear sentences and be sure to check spelling and grammar. Use professional graphics and design principles. In fact, it is worthwhile to have your cover sheet and presentation elements professionally designed by a graphic artist and amortizing the cost over the hundreds of presentations for which you will use the investment. Presentations such as this can be hand delivered and, when possible, should be done in person with all of the decision makers present. If an in-person presentation is not possible, create a PDF that includes your cover sheet.
As I’ve said before, don’t designate your presentation as a “Quote”. That terminology sounds like you are selling the client a product or bidding for their business. Remember that your position is that of a consultant – you are helping the client make an intelligent buying decision. Include a short summary of the reasoning behind your recommendation. Repeat back what the client has asked of you and how your recommendation meets that need. If you have used the property, tour operator or some other element of the presentation with past clients, indicate that experience and the satisfaction that others have had in their dealings with these particular suppliers. If you can back up your research with a testimonial, do so. If you know your suppliers well, indicate your familiarity, including names of the concierge at the property you are recommending or the name of the driver for their transfers if available. In short, establish your relationship with the supplier and the properties you are using. Your business is relationships. These personal touches will give your clients confidence in your selections.
Include any literature you have on the properties you are recommending. If you are using a brochure, mark the important pages clearly. Provide the client with a TRO Destination Guide, which is free for your use in the Marketing Section of our site. At the end of the presentation, include a full invoice including insurance, day trips and any other extras. Explain that you have held the reservations in their name and that they are available and now await the deposit.
Speak plainly to your clients and de-mystify travel by explaining it in terms of your understanding of, and relationships with, the suppliers on the one hand and the client on the other. Have you had the experience of a doctor, a web site designer, a computer sales person or an auto mechanic using terminology that is over your head? The experience is more than a little frustrating, particularly when you have the suspicion that the real agenda is to keep you in your place as a consumer and them in their place as the expert. They spend most of their encounter talking TO you and then, at the end of their monologue, ask you to make a decision, which usually amounts to accepting their expensive recommendation. Consumers do not want their professionals to talk TO them. They want you to hold a discussion WITH them. Presenting the client with a clear recommendation along with your reasoning and an explanation of your past experience with your suppliers solidifies all of the relationships and engages their confidence. Remember that, as a travel professional, your opinion and recommendation matters to the client and is one of the key reasons they turn to you.
Think about the other professionals you encounter in your own experience. They first evaluate your situation by having a discussion with you. Next, they seek to educate you in general about the parameters of your situation. Almost all professionals will then do some research, after which they will present options and make recommendations. Right? This same process is a great roadmap for you to follow as a travel consultant as well.