Where I am, if you’ve been to a big celebration recently you’ve probably heard the song “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. It really gets the party started! The lyrics, “I’ve got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night” really sets the tone for the evening and everyone is up on their feet dancing in no time flat. It may sound basic, but clients want to feel good about their travel advisor and have that preparatory excitement to get the planning started. It’s important to examine that aspect of your relationship with your clients, co-workers, and even suppliers.
As a point of introspection, ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I enjoyable to work with?
- Are my clients loyal because we have a solid relationship?
- Do I have a positive demeanor and outlook?
- When I speak with or meet clients, is it warm and pleasant?
One challenge we face is that to be profitable we must “sell” travel; there is no other way around it. The client must want to purchase the experience you have planned and a monetary transaction must occur. We all know it’s so hard to part with money! It is much easier and more pleasurable to buy from someone you really like and who makes the process enjoyable. As travel advisors, we need to be that person and cultivate that type of rapport with your clients. It’s much easier than you think and the first step is to actually forget that you’re making a sale.
Focus on the people – create the good feeling! Remember the edge we hold over the Internet is that we make people feel good, we are not a blank screen, and we can transmit feelings. What if you changed your outlook from closing a sale to cementing a relationship; or from making the booking to providing travel memories? That would have a profound effect on the way you do business and will lead to a loyal client base.
Here is a very concrete example of this theory: I had discovered a wonderful and unique tea store near my home. The first time I walked in, it felt great! I was greeted with a tea of the day and shown around the store, and the owner cheerfully chatted with me. The prices of their tea lattes are pretty steep, but I thoroughly enjoyed this store and had felt great every time I popped in. Not only did I frequent the store, but I told all of my friends about it. But now, I have not been to that store in a month! Why not? Because the owner transformed the store to generate more revenue and so it does not “feel good” to stop in anymore! He has changed the focus from service to profit. Now it is a cluttered store with every inch filled with items for sale and signs everywhere urging me to buy a tea of the month membership or other specials. There is nowhere to sit in the store to actually enjoy tea and the owner is so busy on his computer or with store business that he doesn’t even welcome customers anymore. I honestly started to feel like a sale and not a person, so they have (unfortunately) lost my business.
In the hustle and bustle of your professional pursuits, don’t forget to acknowledge people. Smile when you see a client, be interested in them, have a happy tone on the phone, and transmit gratitude often. If clients walk away with a good feeling, they are sure to be back again and again!
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.