How do you handle the client that just doesn’t understand what it is you do for a living? OK hold on for a brief rant. I specialize. Hopefully we all specialize…at least to a degree. The problem I seem to have is that for items related to travel, yet somewhat out of my specialty, many of my clients go elsewhere. Let me elaborate.
The bulk of my business is group trips for single parents and their kids. We do maybe a dozen group trips a year and that accounts for 90% of my revenue. The travel types vary from FIT, cruise, tour, and quick weekend getaways. The destinations also vary—US, South America, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Of course I realize that my group trips cannot possibly accommodate everyone’s schedules; but why do many of my clients feel that I cannot handle their individual travel—especially to the same destination?
We have a large group headed to a Beaches resort later this summer. After discussion the trip with several clients, the dates were just not going to work for them. Fair enough. We left it as we were both bummed that they could not join the group; and maybe next year. After wishing them the best and asking them to remember me if I can help with any of their travel plans…most said they probably would hold off on vacations for another year.
But when I find out that they indeed did book an alternate date for the same resort, I have to ask why? I suppose I need to make it clearer that I want their travel business. Logically, it makes no sense to me. They obviously were committed to the trip and the destination—they ultimately went on a different date. Shouldn’t the conversation go something like this:
JOHN: I am sorry, we have the group arranged for those specific dates, but if I can help you plan a solo trip, please keep me in mind.
CLIENT: Oh, you can do a trip outside of the group?
JOHN: Absolutely! I’d love to look into some of the dates that work better for you.
But it never seems to work that way. I am thinking that once they leave me knowing that they cannot join the trip, I go out of their mind…and I want to change that! If nothing more, I want a fair shot at the trip with their local agent, some online site, or the property directly. Often, based on my relationships (especially if it is one of my very few preferred properties) I can beat the price and include some additional amenities for the client. Of course, I am not sure of the pricing they ultimately got or amenities received; but I have been told from some that did book independently with me that I was the best value.
As the year ends, I am thinking that I need to modify my market position for 2017. Instead of group travel, I need to make it clear that I am in the travel business first and foremost, with a specialty for groups of single parents. Maybe it is a new tagline or logo design. Maybe I need to refresh my scripted responses.
But before I do, I have a favor—please tell me that I am not alone in this. What have you done to combat a client (or prospect) sliding over to another source when you are perfectly capable? Leave me a comment!
PS: As a side note, I am very clear to my clients (and myself) where my capabilities lie and have no problems referring a client if their needs fall outside of them!