Every day it seems that we are moving closer and closer to an endemic status with COVID. And this is a great thing. More people are vaccinated. People have built up immunity. The drug companies seem to be on top of things. New variants seem less and less severe. All great news! One of my favorite songs is The End by The Doors. But I do not see our business in quite as fatalistic of a light! Now is the time to get those clients in the door and keep them. But how?
Remove all barriers to doing business with your agency. Phones need to be answered swiftly, emails returned promptly, texts answered, 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 physically meet the clients where and when they are comfortable. And yes, this might mean a local coffee shop, their home or office, or even Zoom; 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 still prefer email. But my kids tell me email is for dinosaurs. That tells me it will be imperative to keep up with the technology as it evolves.
Today’s technology allows someone to purchase travel with a click. And clients will do that if you let them. Don’t! Do not give them the opportunity to click on a button and purchase travel elsewhere. 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—Square, PayPal, or maybe phoning it into a supplier. 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 IMHO are mandatory now) 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 currency—crypto anyone? Just be prepared! Cash used to be king; today—maybe not.
And for your prospects and the folks that stumble upon 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. 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. Google will ding you!
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 maybe TRES the new platform from Lee Rosen who developed TRAMS and ClientBase.
Audit your online presence and make sure your information and messaging are consistent across all platforms. Remember, we are a resilient industry, and we will bounce back once again. Just remember the bounces may be big, and with a big bounce comes a bigger opportunity!