You’ve heard it a ton of times: Travel agents are becoming obsolete with all the online travel planning platforms available. There’s no way to make money in the travel industry anymore. It’s a travel industry apocalypse for travel agents!
Well, guess what? Over the past several years, I’ve taken my boutique travel business and turned it into a million dollar company.
How did I do that?
Well, first off, I realized that there were many strong reasons to book with me and my travel company – reasons that were and still are exclusive to us. And I have a few that I want to share with you now so that you can start implementing them TODAY and be the one that big-spending travelers call for all their travel needs, AND the one they refer to their friends and family.
Below are 3 of my proven ways to be travelers’ #1 choice in the competitive travel industry:
Ask for complimentary upgrades: I recently was asked to be a guest speaker on a webinar where I discussed the importance of taking excellent care of your clients while they are abroad, and one of the topics I mentioned was asking hotels for complimentary upgrades for clients. After the call, I had over a dozen travel experts reach out to me and say “I had no idea I could ask for upgrades!” Of course you can; if you don’t ask, you’re not going to get them!
So whenever I’m consulting with a travel expert, I always recommend they request complimentary upgrades for their clients each time they travel. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. But you can really impress your clients if you surprise them with a complimentary upgrade, so it’s always worth it to ask.
Impress clients with tailored gifts – without breaking the bank: Gifts have the power to create emotional connections. When you provide gifts to your clients, you are creating an emotional bond with them and illustrating how much you care for the client. It’s a gesture of thoughtfulness that can have the power to turn a one-time client into a lifetime client. Not to mention, dramatically increase the likelihood that they will refer your services to others.
So when it comes to gifting, here are a few things to keep in mind…
Be sure to give the client a gift that complements their interests. For example, you wouldn’t want to give a client a bottle of white wine if they despise white wine. So, be sure to do your homework when it comes to figuring out what your clients like and dislike. One of the best times to figure out what your clients’ interests are is during your initial inquiry phone call. Chat with them about their interests and how you can tie those into the trip you are planning for them. You can then get them a gift that is in line with those interests.
When a client books their trip with you, send them a thank you note along with a gift (the price of the gift should be comparable to what they spent on their trip with you). Then, when the client arrives to their hotel during their trip, be sure to have the hotel include a note in their room with a little gift, such as a bottle of wine or champagne.
Implement an effective referral program: In addition to impressing clients before and during their travels with you, it’s important to reinforce their desire to refer you to others by implementing an enticing referral program.
When it comes to deciding how you want to thank your clients who have referred you to others, you want to be sure you’re giving them something they want to work for. In other words, what would make your clients go the extra mile to discuss your services to their friends, family, and co-workers?
Some options might include gift cards to their preferred airline, travel upgrades, money, donations to their favorite charitable organizations, spa treatments, and more. The possibilities are endless!
Once you come up with the referral program you wish to implement, be sure to inform your clients of the referral program by sending them information via email and even direct mail.
Sandy Salle is the owner and founder of Hills of Africa Travel, a million dollar travel company that plans luxury safari vacations to southern, eastern, and central Africa. She is also the founder of Zawadi Travel Concierge – a high-end concierge company, designed to assist travelers with their travel and lifestyle needs. Sandy has also founded the Keep in Touch Kit, an online product designed specifically for travel experts to help them increase client retention and high-quality referrals. Sandy is hosting an upcoming webinar on June 16, 2015 at 7pm EST on 5 Proven Ways to Be Travelers’ #1 Choice in the Competitive Travel Industry. Register for this complimentary event here: http://www.clientkeepintouch.com/5-proven-ways/