So many qualities come together to create an amazing bond between travel advisor and client. The list is endless – product knowledge, strong relationships with suppliers, creativity, follow through, how you handle emergencies – but take a moment to stop and think about how many live conversations you’ve actually had with your valued clients. I bet it’s not as many, or of the quality, that you should be having.
We live in a hurried world! In fact, one of the top reasons to use a travel advisor is to save time. Even my most frequent and well-known clients will often send a quick email to inquire about their upcoming vacation. The common response is to hop to it and work up their FIT or present them with the hotel choices or send them your sage professional advice. That is a perfectly appropriate response, but STOP!!! What if you actually had a five-minute conversation with your client? I guarantee this would save you time, solidify your relationship, and probably increase your income.
Clients are crazy busy and so are we, so the phone conversation often gets sidelined. There are too many benefits to having the actual conversation (sometimes benefits not even related to the actual trip your client is inquiring about) that you MUST secure 5 minutes of the clients time before proceeding with any planning. There are many specifics that you need to find out before investing your valuable time in researching. Investing 5 minutes now will pay dividends down the road in creating a loyal and productive relationship with a client.
Let’s look at the posotoves of having a 5 minute conversation:
- It builds your relationship – for a few minutes ask them about their family, their hobbies, or an occasion they just celebrated – let the client know you are genuinely interested in them
- Get the pertinent data for trip upfront (dates, who’s going, budget)
- Find out their goals for the trip and let the client know what value you will add
- Find out any issues you need to be aware of and special requests to incorporate in the planning
- Share a starter idea and give them a vision to get them excited
- You will get clues for future travels – in the course of a real conversation clients often tell me what they’ve added to their bucket list, their daughter is getting married (upcoming honeymoon), a friend is planning a birthday trip (how about a referral?), etc.
So how can you get 5 minutes of their time – ASK for it! Something like, “I would be thrilled to put together this amazing vacation for your family! Let’s talk more about the specifics and what would make this summer unforgettable. I have a few minutes around 2pm, may I call you then? If not, what time tomorrow morning. Can’t wait to hear how you’re doing and share some ideas. Thank you!”
The value of time is absolutely a point of mutual respect between you and your client, the 5 minutes up front for a real conversation certainly will be a worthwhile investment for all parties involved. As the saying goes, “Time is money!” This applies to the investment of your time as well!
Marti Litwin is an independent Virtuoso travel advisor with En Route Travel in Southern California. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Marti shares her value of sharing unforgettable family experiences with her clients. In addition to travel, she enjoys yoga, health and wellness, her 2 children and an adorable rescued Golden Retriever, Cookie.