Are you going to make mistakes in your travel practice? Absolutely! As my father used to say, if you aren’t falling down on occasion, then you aren’t trying hard enough. That said, however, everyone’s goal should be to minimize the problems likely to be encountered in building up the marketing and sales programs for your travel agency. With that in mind, this week we are going to talk about the most common mistakes travel agents make in five very important areas: Sales, Marketing, Branding, Public Relations, and Social Media. We start off the week discussing the most common sales mistakes travel agents make.
A sales mistake can be one of the most serious and costly mistakes because of the terminal nature of the sales process. The sales process is the culmination of many of the other undertakings of the travel agency. Prior to engaging a client in a face to face sales encounter, the travel agency has invested time in marketing, public relations and advertising. Depending on how far into the sales process the client is lost, much time may have been invested in client acquisition and cultivation. Therefore, elimination of the most common sales mistakes is an important exercise. Here are the most common mistakes and how to prevent them.
This 365 Marketing and Sales Tip is provided free to the travel agent community by:
Failing to establish a rapport – OK. I’m going to say it again: modern sales is about relationships, not about transactions. Your clients want to deal with a real human being, someone with whom they can have a conversation. If the public perceives you as a store clerk instead of a trusted advisor, they will shop you ragged. Establish your relationship at the beginning. Qualify the client not with regard to their travel plans, but with regard to their suitability as a client – is this a person you want to do business with? If so, train them on how to be a good client. Get to know them and build a rapport.
Talking instead of listening – don’t tell the client what you “have” or about all the features of your agency and great customer service. You are not a vending machine. Instead, listen to what the client needs and ask intelligent questions. Find out about their travel history and about their travel ambitions. This is all a part of establishing a rapport, but it’s also about understanding how to best satisfy the clients inner-most needs.
Focusing on Price – price is not the centerpiece of anyone’s travel plans. That is not to say that clients don’t have budgets, they do. However, if you treat price as the centerpiece of your discussions, then price will, I assure you, be the centerpiece of your discussions. You will lose this battle more times than you win it. Talk about the client’s needs and value.
Providing too many options – clients come to you for recommendations. You are the expert. Make a strong recommendation and then back up your choice by explaining how it meets the client’s needs.
Not obtaining a commitment – Try this one out. Ask for the commitment. Hold the reservation for your recommendation before you ever present it to the client and then present the invoice along with your presentation.
Talking to the wrong people – If you are still working with clients of questionable value to your agency, then you are wasting too much of your valuable time. As my good buddy Mike Marchev says, you can increase your profits without selling anything additional simply by firing your worst clients..
Not starting out with a Plan to Go fee – That’s right, you should start each of your new clients out right – train them. Most agents wait until they have been burned multiple times by clients who take their research and then book elsewhere. Have you had this happen to you? Congratulations. Join the club. Now, do the right thing for your business and begin charging a fee up -front. No client posting a $100 fee with you will take your advice and book elsewhere. Want a great start? Check out the No Limits Webinar by Nolan Burris in TRO’s Community.