Written By: Joanie Ogg CTC, MCC, Co-founder and Editor – Travel Professional NEWS®
I was recently at the See’s Candy Store purchasing a box of candy for one of our good partners and had an interesting discussion with the lovely lady who helped me with the purchase. Let me step back a bit and tell you why See’s Candy shouts Holidays to me. My Dad always purchased a huge box of their wonderful chocolates for our family to enjoy every Christmas. He would hand pick the kinds of candy the four kids liked, and of course his and Mom’s favorites as well. It always makes me smile when I walk in the See’s Store and embrace the memories and the smells that take me back to my childhood.
As I carefully choose my selections for this special box for our good clients, I chatted with the sales clerk about the memories that See’s brings to me and she shared some with me. She asked me who this 10 pound box of candy was intended for. I told her that every year for over 10 years now, we have been delivering a box to some very special partners for their staff to enjoy during the holidays. She asked if we ever did a smaller box for them and I said no, I would never want them to think that they were any less important to us one year over another. It is not just because they continue to be a loyal partner but more importantly it is our way of saying they are special to us and always will be.
Sure, we could do 5 pounds and they would never make mention of the smaller box, but why would we? The clerk then shared that you have to spend money to make money and I laughed. Yes, the money is part of it, but honestly it is more about the spirit of giving a gift that we know they will enjoy. On top of that it is tradition at this point.
Finding new customers is crucial to the growth of our businesses but rewarding and thanking those current customers we cherish is equally important. We have all heard how it costs gaining a new client can cost 5 to 20 times more than keeping a current client happy and well taken care of. Here are some very simple sales tips for success.
1. Say Thank You Before and After the Sale
After you have made the sale, be sure to thank the client and thank them again after their trip. Try to use whatever method of thanks is appropriate for each particular client. Some may prefer an email, a text, a personal handwritten note or perhaps even a phone call. Only you will know the best way to approach this all important technique.
Some years ago I was seated next to a gentleman on a flight to Vancouver, BC and he was telling me about his upcoming cruise to Alaska with his extended family of 30. The conversation rolled around to chatting about his travel agent and I asked him if he had been using that agent for a long time. I suspected so and was certain his agent would never want to lose such a great client. He shared that he had booked this cruise online and I was visibly shocked. I asked him why not use a trusted travel professional for such an important vacation. One who would certainly know his needs and guide him through the process which I was certain he would have never experienced booking with an OTA. He told me that his last large trip had been to Hawaii and he had taken 15 family members on the four island vacation. He had used a travel agent for that trip and the reason he choose not to use them again was shocking to me. He said they never followed-up after the trip to say thank you or to check-in after the vacation. Wow, need I share more?
2. Stay in Touch
Before and after a trip you have planned, stay in touch and send helpful and useful information to your customers during the sales process and after the trip is complete. Sending tips on things to do on their trip or special restaurants and attractions you suggest can keep you front of mind during the entire sales process. Touching your customers does not mean to be selling to them. Touch them with greeting cards, well wishes and just a simple hello from time to time. Build that relationship with them to be more then just that of a sales relationship and you are sure to garner their loyalty.
3. Ask for Referrals
We all know that referrals from satisfied travelers are probably the most effective way to generate new travel sales, but asking for them can seem a bit awkward or pushy. Try focusing your referral tactics on your best clients as they already have a relationship with you and they already know how great your are at what you do. They trust you and know the stellar service you provide and will be happy to share their good fortune of having you as their travel professional with others. When your customers recommend you to someone else they add that extra layer of credibility and trust. Be sure to have a consistent thank you strategy in place to show your appreciation for those referrals. Perhaps a box of See’s Candy will sweeten your continued success.