Utilizing the traditional means of media marketing is more than cost prohibitive for the majority of travel agents. Because of the financial restraints that most of us are under, word of mouth advertising is vital in building new business. For this reason it is important that each new client you get is treated as a VIP, no matter how big or small their trip is. Some of my most lucrative business has come to me as referrals from clients who did very little traveling themselves. You just never know who they may know!
I once earned over $7000.00 in commissions from booking a corporate group incentive trip to Cancun, Mexico. However, it happens that this referral came from the receptionist at this company. When she originally contacted me, she indicated she was on a very limited budget but wanted to plan a nice but inexpensive anniversary weekend for her and her husband. I found a small boutique hotel in San Francisco that was offering a special with the second night free. I suggested getting tickets to a play or musical by using the “Half Price Ticket Outlet”. I offered to make reservations for them at a small, romantic yet inexpensive restaurant. I then put all of this together in a small gift basket for them. For under $10.00 the basket included a Happy Anniversary greeting, a map of San Francisco, a split of wine, a couple of wine glasses that I found at a dollar store, a candle, a small box of chocolates, an envelope of bubble bath and their documents that included a letter to the hotel manager asking to take special care of my VIP clients on their anniversary. It is my belief that these types of personal touches, though not necessarily expensive, can mean a lot to clients whose first class experiences are rare. Needless to say, she was absolutely thrilled at these small gestures. I get a great deal of satisfaction in the feeling that I can help make someone’s dream come true, even if it is just a romantic weekend getaway. Did I make a lot of money on this booking? No, but when I saw her face light up as I presented her with the gift basket, I felt that it was well worth the effort I put into the reservation.
Never did I expect the return that I got for this small booking. While at work, this same client overheard the management at her company discussing the possibility of putting together some sort of a creative incentive travel program for their employees. It was at this point when my client shared the details of what I had done for her and highly recommended that they get in touch with me.
Once I received the contract to handle this incentive group I was able to contact each employee, take all of their personal information, and complete a profile form. I requested to have the opportunity to deliver their documents personally during a company meeting. I indicated that this would give the participants an opportunity to ask any questions about traveling to Cancun or about the all-inclusive resort they were going to stay at. I was able to go in early and decorate the meeting room like a Mexican Fiesta, played Mexican music softly in the background, plus I provided chips, salsa and beverages. I packaged each individual’s documents small colorful piñatas. The company was blown away that I would do all this.
I made sure to ask each individual in a welcome back call for permission to add their contact information into my database for future travel promotions. Because of the same personal attention and great detail to this group booking, no one refused. Consequently, many of the employees then started to call on me for their future travel needs.
All of this new business for taking the extra time and effort to make one small client feel special and important!
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), President, Host Agency Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com), Travel Agent Forum Conference Director, and PATH President & Executive Board Member