Written By: Michelle Fee, CEO – Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative
It’s a well-known fact that travel advisors have evolved, from an office on every street corner to today’s advisors who aren’t tethered to an office or even a desk. They are on the move, often traveling the world with a variety of modern tools that make planning clients’ vacations more streamlined than ever before.
While the evolution of the travel agent is clear, have you stopped to consider how your clients have evolved? Today’s consumer has unprecedented access to information leading to a worldview based largely on instant gratification. They use a variety of platforms to gather information and expect to find answers quickly, bouncing from one source to another.
Luckily, there are many modern technologies that make communicating with your fast-paced clients easier and much more efficient, giving them quick access to the information they need and saving you time.
Communicate Quickly with Texting
It’s likely you text all the time in your personal life – are you texting with your clients? If not, it’s time to start. Did you realize:
- 68% of consumers text more often than they make phone calls (source: market research institute GFK)
- 78% of US consumers say receiving a text message is the fastest way to reach them for important service updates and purchases (Source: mobile marketing company Vibes).
In other words, people are texting a lot, and it is the preferred method of communication for most. Texting allows you to provide quick responses with minimal barriers.
Cruise Planners Tip: Set expectations early on about when you will view and respond to texts. You don’t want clients texting you at 3 a.m. and expecting a response.
Foster Personal Connections with Video Chatting
While texting is an easy way to communicate quickly, there is still value in face-to-face communication. Save yourself the time of traveling to and from an in-person meeting and easily connect with your out-of-town clients by setting up a video call.
Video chatting allows you to have face-to-face interactions with your clients from anywhere with few logistical barriers. All you need is your smart phone or your laptop and a good internet connection. Your clients get the benefit of personal communication and will feel more connected with you, and perhaps more importantly, you save time that can be focused on other areas of your business.
Cruise Planners Tip: Purchase a mini tripod for your cell phone, so your video will be stable, and you can free up your computer to take notes or look at options while video chatting.
Save Time with Automated Emails
Email is still an integral communication source for travel advisors, especially when sending quotes invoices, reminders and follow ups, but keeping track of all these emails can be and time consuming. That’s why automated emails are a favorite of travel advisors, especially when the host or franchise network they are a part of does all the heaving lifting for them.
“These emails give us a way to stay in front of our clients. It makes us look like we’re thinking about them, late at night while they’re sleeping, putting something in their inbox for them,” said Rodney George, Cruise Planners franchise owners based in Naples, FL.
For example, Cruise Planners automatically sends communications to clients based on triggers or pre-defined schedules, saving you time and making sure your clients get the information they need, exactly when they need it. A few examples of what clients may receive include:
- A thank you for booking email
- A reminder to book shore excursions or travel insurance
- A reminder when for upcoming and final payments
- A travel checklist the week before they depart for a trip
- A welcome home greeting
- A special travel deal on their birthday
There are a number of platforms on the market that can help you send automated emails, ultimately saving you time and making sure your clients have the information they need.
Stay Organized with CRM Systems
Are you using a mobile-friendly CRM – customer relationship management – system? If not, you should be. CRM systems allow you to manage all your client interactions in one central location, no matter what location you’re in. You can input contact information, take notes about past conversations or trips and track payments.
“Before, I was not able to run my business from my smart phone, but now I am truly mobile, and it has changed the way I do business,” said Carolyn Rybnikar, Cruise Planners franchise owner based in Johns Creek, GA.
Some CRM systems, such as Cruise Planners’ CP Maxx, even have direct integrations with cruise lines and tour companies. This way, quotes and bookings can be made instantly all in one place, and your clients can view their payment records as soon as you’ve made them. CRMs such as CP Maxx also connect with email and live chat platforms to allow you to track the interactions you’ve had with a client, making your communication much more efficient and effective. Your client gets the information they need faster and you save time. It’s a win-win!
Choose a Host or Franchise
There are many tools to modernize your communication; however, these tools may come with fees and you may need multiple tools to accomplish all your needs. To have a streamlined suite of tools, consider a host or franchise company such as Cruise Planners, which offers an incredibly robust technology package that includes automated email capabilities, a sophisticated CRM system, a consumer-facing and client-facing mobile app and even integrations with Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. By leveraging the power of their technology and marketing teams, you will be able to cut costs and communicate easier than ever before.
Be High-Tech and High-Touch
Remember, even in a digital world, the human connection remains key. Stay high-tech with the right technology, meeting and exceeding evolving client expectations, while staying high-touch by building relationships with your clients no matter what form of communication you use.