It is such great news that more vaccines are becoming available, and more and more people are seeing the end of this pandemic. As a business owner, I see the end as a huge opportunity. We did not see the beginning of COVID coming and all of our reactions were, well, reactionary. But now that we can see the end, we have time to prepare. The clients will return, but…
You need to make sure you keep them; and how to keep them at the lowest possible cost. We all know that it costs a lot more to find a new client than to keep an existing one, right?
Looking forward, remove all barriers to doing business with your agency. Phones need to be answered swiftly, emails returned promptly, and your website needs to be as user friendly and simple as possible to navigate—in geek speak, look at the UX.
But you also need to meet the clients where and when they are comfortable. And yes, this might mean a local coffee shop, or even their home or office; but also, with the technology they want. If you think of the evolution of communication, you will see what I mean. We have moved from a model of store visits and personal interaction, to telephone orders and fax machines, to email conversations and web orders; and now, most of them have been replaced for many clients with social media and texting. Personally, I prefer email. But many people have deemed that as an archaic means and prefer texting. It will be imperative to keep up with the technology as it evolves.
Today’s technology negates the “let me think about it” client to a degree. When you have a client and ask for the sale, be prepared to close the deal immediately. That means having a method to accept payment immediately, and likely on your phone. Studies have shown that average retail sales are higher when barriers to payment are eliminated. This would be a good time to focus on insurance sales (which really ought to be mandatory moving forward) and add-ons to a trip. And keep in mind, that payment may also in the not-too-distant future, entail accepting other forms of electronic currency—Bitcoin. Just be prepared! Cash used to be king; today—not so much!
And for the customers that don’t know about you, you need to step up your discoverability. Make sure you have a Google My Business profile, and that you are listed on all the appropriate social media channels. A critical component of these listings is to be complete. Give your client or prospect all the information they need to know about you to guide them in their decision to buy from you. And, another key point is to keep the Google gods happy. They do not like fractured information. And by this, I am talking about a Google profile with “ABC Travel” and a Yelp profile with “ABC Travel Company”, and a Facebook page with “Travel With ABC” all pointing to the same website with the same phone number. If you are doing this as an A-B test, be sure to list different phones and buy a separate domain. No sense in getting dinged by Google.
Finally, embrace customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you don’t have one—get it. It could be ClientBase which has been the gold standard for many years, or, I’d keep an eye on TRES which is the new player from Lee Rosen who developed TRAMS and ClientBase.
People are not traveling right now. We all know that. But the demand is there, and the travel tensions have been building up for a year. The floodgates will open at some point. Will you be ready? Take this gift of time and go over your UX with a fine tooth comb. Make it as easy as possible for customers to find you and do business with you as possible. Invest in some technology that will enable you to do just that. Audit your existing online presence and make sure your information and messaging is consistent across all platforms. We have some time to prepare, unlike this time last year when we all were effectively put out of business overnight. We are a resilient industry, and we will come out ahead. But we need to up our collective game and give ourselves whatever edge we can. Instead of lamenting on 2020, lets get cracking on 2021 and beyond!