Congratulations, you just found a new travel prospect. You are excited you potentially have more business. Once you answer the call and move beyond getting a name, what comes next?
Many times when speaking with others in all types of sales, they don’t know how to properly qualify their potential client. Qualifying a new client can be the difference between success and failure. If you plan a trip for your client the first time and miss, chances are they will not return. Do a great job, not only will they return, but they will also send referrals.
After you establish yourself with introductions, set the expectations. Let the prospective client know you are going to ask several questions intended to best match them to their dream vacation. Create a list or a worksheet for each prospect. Hang onto the list for future reference as well.
I like to begin asking who will be accompanying the traveler and their ages. This lets you know if this is family with children, adults or friend’s group. Find out where their last vacation was, what accommodations they used and if they were satisfied. This will clue you into the type of accommodations they like or dislike. If they have never traveled, you will have a few more steps to take.
Next, ask the when they want to travel and for how long. Then inquire about their budget. These two factors together let you know if they are reasonable. If they tell you they don’t have a budget, give them some parameters and begin with a higher level and going down by increments. For example, if they say 7 nights, start with $5,000- $6,000 per person and work downwards. Despite what they may say, everyone has a budget!
Have they chosen a destination? Find out why. Since many times travelers have thrown the proverbial dart against the wall, it is critical to know why a destination or type of travel is on their mind. While your professional experience will tell you that an all-inclusive in Hawaii for 5 nights from the east cost is a non-starter, many (if not most) travelers will not.
Don’t forget to find out about their activity requests. The level of activity needs to meet their expectations. Over stimulation on a high energy vacation may not be a good fit with an executive who just wants to relax with a good book. Conversely, the person behind a desk may need to use their energy hiking, biking or zipping down a canopy.
If they are traveling outside of the US, ask if they have a passport. Remind them to check the expiration date. Anything less than six months from their date of travel may need to be renewed. Each country has their parameters and most cruises outside of US ports require six months or more. It is up to you to know the facts. And a best practice for international travel is to never take a client’s word on the passport information—do your best to secure a photocopy or at least to see it in person. Frank may really be Franklin and he may have an issue.
Once you take the time to know your clients, it will be easier to satisfy them and make your job easier.
Adrienne Sasson, with Rubinsohn Travel in Jenkintown, PA, has been creating travel memories for clients for over 16 years as a travel professional. She has been successful in brand creation and is well versed in sound marketing, continuing education, and creating strong relationships. Adrienne has been asked to speak at the NY Times Travel Show and contributes to industry magazines both for agents and consumers.