Nothing is more disheartening having worked for days, delving out advice, building itineraries and providing every aspect of our services to prospective clients, only to have them not book, or even worse, book their trip elsewhere.
As much as we don’t want to admit it, shoppers (often called “tire kickers”) are not a phenomenon exclusive to the travel industry. How many times have you spent the day with a salesperson at a car lot, only to end up buying elsewhere? That where the term “tire kickers” came from. When looking for a special outfit or pair of shoes, how many of us buy at the first store? Most of us want to make sure that we are getting the best value for our money. The key word here is “Value”.
Never try to make a sale before creating a relationship. When I make my first contact with a new client, I first ask if I can spend a couple of minutes with them to learn more about their travel preferences. Now is the time to start building the personal relationship. It is so important to find out about their past travels and what they liked best and least about the trips. By asking them these types of questions, it shows a genuine interest on your part and opens up the lines of communication. I explain that by knowing their likes and dislikes it will greatly assist me in making the best possible recommendations. This type of information is needed to make sure we don’t overwhelm them by giving too many options. It is our job to sort through the entire myriad of travel options and come back with good matches based on the information they provided.
Throughout the conversation, I weave in the benefits of using my services. I include descriptions of the all of the “extra services” that I provide for my clients, such as complimentary gift baskets, Travel Newsletters, VIP letters to property managers, etc. I let them know that I am available to schedule a meeting with them at their convenience, either by phone or in person. They are assured that should they need anything while they are on their trip, they can feel to call me at any time for assistance. If they are traveling outside of the United States, I offer to keep a copy of their passport in my office, explaining should they happen to lose it I will fax a copy to the nearest Embassy for faster replacement. I will also let them know that I will be happy to provide my industry credentials, training, personal experiences, client referrals, and testimonials. I have now given them my value and a reason to book with me.
Learn to sell yourself and your services before you sell pricing and products. If you haven’t created this type of “Script” about yourself, now’s the time to start. If you show a client your value they are less likely to shop around, but if they do, you may have now given them enough reason to come back and book with you.
Go with the assumption that most consumers are not going to buy from you without checking to make sure you are giving them the best deal. Offer to make some sort of pact with them upfront that if they do find their trip cheaper elsewhere to give you the opportunity to meet or beat it. Let them know that way they can get the best price and your excellent service to boot! This gives them “permission” without “guilt” to come back to you if they do check around.
My main thought here is to make sure you give the client the opportunity to know about you and your services. For those of you who are getting leads and just handing out prices, this may be the reason you are not be closing the sales or why the client is booking on the internet. You have not given these potential clients any reason to WANT to book with you.
Many times I use Nordstrom’s as an analogy. It is the same philosophy: people don’t go there because of their cheap prices or sales, but because they know that they are going to get great customer service with the extra touches and amenities offered to them as customers. That’s value.
Anita Pagliasso is the author of “How I Made A Small Fortune as a Home-Based Travel Agent”, From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE!” and “Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents CD” (www.redticketproductions.com). She is the President of Ticket To Travel-Host Agency (www.travelagentathome.com), President of PATH and an Executive Board Member. You can contact Anita at 408-531-9228.