Well Summer is about to blast off and here I sit with a few free minutes during the work day as I am checking and rechecking client documents, seat assignments, and going over things to do with clients about to take off. Some like to travel in May so I’m welcoming those clients back and seeing how everything went. Does that mean that I don’t have a surge of new requests trying to leave next week? No, but I still carve time out to engage with the clients that already booked with me and making an effort to maintain that relationship.
From a marketing standpoint a new lead will cost more than retaining an existing client. Chances are an existing client will be more interested in nicer accommodations and booking more components to add to their experience. Why? Because the relationship is now established. When following up at the end of a trip when all that euphoria of having traveled somewhere they have been itching to go wears off, they will probably be very thankful and have you top of mind. Clients probably shared pictures and experiences with friends and family and will mention somewhere how you did a great job. People will want to know who is this great travel consultant that has your clients in vacation bliss? Again, client retention and referrals will beat a new lead most anytime.
Clients will now trust your opinion and see your value, and it is up to us to continue being an asset to them. So the next time a client is thinking about travel, you will be the first person that pops into their head. CRMs are a great tool, and if you can implement them as part of your marketing plan, I highly recommend them. Less memory is being used on your brain, but you are still keeping all those golden nuggets of information.
If a CRM is a little out of your reach, we still have good old file folders and all the notes you take when talking to a client. Whatever the client tells me I write down, even if it may not seem noteworthy at the time. I have jotted down how some clients are runners, how others are not morning people, how somebody’s spouse is allergic to something specific. So when you start noticing that lull in new bookings, this may be a good time to go revisit your files you have on clients. The special offers start trickling in and if I see some that may be of interest to a client I send them a few emails letting them know I am thinking about them, and the last time we spoke that they mentioned how much they would like to visit x, y, z destination.
I have had a few clients that always want to go to the same place over and over. They really are surprised when I mention, “Remember that golf course you’ve been wanting to play? I just saw some interesting packages… how about we look into them just so you can compare versus going to Vegas again?” Clients really do appreciate that 1) I remembered what they said, 2) that I am doing the research for them, and 3) that I take an interest in them. Repeat clients like to catch up or sometimes pop in to see what’s trending. They have said that they feel like they are visiting somewhere that knows them and cares about them.
Saving all those pieces of information on client profiles has probably been our #1 marketing piece. I do sometimes get the new client that questions why I am asking all these questions. I tell them that we save their preferences so when they book the next time it saves time and they don’t have to repeat this information again. This makes them think of a long term relationship with you and not having to explain themselves all over again. They can call someone that already knows them and is well along in the purchasing decision process. Also, if we see something that may be of interest we like to share with clients so they don’t have to spend hours looking for ideas. I don’t usually wait for existing clients to contact me about their next journey, I like to remain in contact throughout the year even if there is nothing new they have requested. When you plant the travel idea in your client the chances of them returning to discuss further and booking with you are quite high.
So this off season when you are looking to get new leads, my first suggestion is to start with the files and notes you already have. It saves you time, resources, and probability of higher success rate in creating bookings.
Mary Jo Salas is a 4-year veteran of the industry working for Alamo Travel Group. Alamo is a full service agency with government, business and leisure travel divisions based in San Antonio, Texas. Mary Jo specializes in honeymoons, family vacations, and couples’ getaways.