The single most important thing that you can do for your client relationships is to make your clients feel special. Most of the service suppliers that your clients come into contact with every day do nothing to make them seem special – it is business as usual. That is why the exceptional service provider gets noticed. Think of the way in which certain exclusive hotel chains have built stories around themselves by doing no more than communicating the name of its guest to all of its personnel and then making sure the bellmen, the maids, and the service staff all address the client by name.
There are a lot of ways to make clients feel special. A good CRM program is a must. You need to remember birthdays, holidays, children’s names, and other important information about your clients as well as all of their travel history and ambitions. But that’s the easy part. Your clients may not even clearly understand the travel options available to them. They may have years ago decided Tokyo was too expensive and Australia too far away. They think Iceland is too cold (it’s right there in the name!) and Brazil too scary. What they don’t know may be keeping them from traveling.
A big part of your responsibility is educating your clients not only on the logistics of travel but also on the destinations and activities they might not imagine for themselves without your intervention. An activist participation in their travel planning is a must for the full-service travel consultant!
How well do you know your clients and how well do they know themselves? Certainly, you know the places they have been, but do you know the places they want to go? Do you know where they may want to go if they understood the possibilities? Most people have a checklist of “places I want to go someday.” As a travel planner, one of the most interesting and proactive ways to work with clients is to assist them in creating a written plan of their travel ambitions. Financial planners ask their clients about their retirement plans and financial goals to assist the process of better visualizing a possible course of action – the plan becomes “real”. Likewise, when clients articulate and write down the places they most want to visit during the next ten years, they are more likely to act on those plans.
By periodically reviewing your client files, you can determine how completely you know your clients. You will want client profiles to reflect not only basic demographics and where clients have been but also where they want to go. This will allow you to be proactive in your marketing efforts, directing appropriate travel programs to the right clients. By assisting in this way, you open the door to many years of working with clients to help them both plan and achieve their goals. As their travel planner, you thereby receive an open invitation to continue to send them travel specials and to communicate with them on an ongoing basis.
Consider scheduling client interviews with each of your clients for which you have incomplete records. Review each of your client files. Draft a letter to each offering to meet with them over the next few weeks to begin working on a long-range plan to accomplish all of their travel ambitions. Explain you are doing so as a part of your mission to direct them in the best way possible. Establish a client interview that leads to long-range planning as an integral part of all of your client relationships.
By getting your client to invest time in planning long-term with you, a bond of ownership forms – you become “their travel consultant.”