How easy is it to do business with you? We sometimes miss how baffled a client may feel when first launching out on their vacation planning. First, they have to know you exist, a result of how well you have executed your marketing plan. But let’s start somewhat further down the road. Let’s say the client knows you exist – they must now be motivated to use you as opposed to using another agency or booking themselves online.
Most of us gravitate to the path of least resistance; this includes your clients. After all, their computer is right there on the desk. They don’t have to speak with anyone when they use their computer or pay a research fee. They don’t have to feel any pressure “to buy” and they don’t have to feel embarrassed if their budget doesn’t meet what they feel is your threshold for “interesting.”
Once clients are over these largely psychological barriers, however, the actual obstacles to doing business with your travel practice begins. How many ways do we confound and hinder? They have to know how to contact you. They have to speak with you. They have to accurately communicate their desires to you. You have to disappear long enough to research their plan and get back to you. They have to be able to reach you during their travels. When they return, they have to engage your procedures to process problems and complaints if any have arisen.
And during the entire process, your client is researching alongside of you.
Being easy to do business with is what will keep your travel practice top of mind when a client decides to travel. Every point of contact, from your business card to your website, has to not only delight the customer, but must also be accessible and easy to use. Everything in your company’s culture must communicate confidence and evoke a sense of relationship and trust. Yet, into every business creeps small impediments to communication and engagement, sometimes enough to inhibit a client’s sense of being heard and, in extreme cases, enough to disrupt the relationship.
Here is why being easy to work with is so important: when a client is engaged in a relationship with your company, the client is an annuity. The longer a client is with you, the more money that client passes your way each year, and typically in ever-increasing amounts. The more clients you retain, the stronger the base of your business.
Most clients understand the fungible nature of the components of travel – a destination, airline tickets, hotel rooms, and rental cars. What makes the difference is the ease with which you answer their inquiries, resolve their problems, and creatively organize their travels. These intangibles, not the components, make the difference and separate you from the hoards of other companies vying for their business.
Given the ease with which clients can “buy travel”, it has never been more important to ensure the accessibility of your own offerings, to set yourself apart from the undifferentiated mass of travel retailers. Here are a few of the items on which you might focus:
- Setting yourself apart
- Being accessible
- Being creative
- Being fast
- Responding to complaints
- Staying top-of-mind
Ironically, being easy to do business with is hard. It takes planning and constant attention to detail. Continually honing your internal processes and your client contacts, however, is an absolute necessity. Your client has thousands of choices and you are only one of the possibilities. Making yourself accessible and responsive is a big part of making yourself successful.