Written By: Jackie Friedman, President – Nexion Travel Group
You are not a travel booker. You are a travel advisor—a skilled professional who curates travel experiences for your lucky clients. And with that mindset, you should look beyond simply booking your clients’ next trips and into helping them plan for the long term.
Think of a financial advisor. They actively manage they clients’ financial portfolios and stay abreast of what is happening in their lives that can affect that, like the birth of a new baby, sending the kids to college, buying a house, or retirement. To help their clients reach those goals and stay solvent, they work ahead of the timeline. And you should too.
The financial advisor/travel advisor metaphor is quite apt, as those same events can also be the impetus to time travel: a new baby means a babymoon and a focus on family-friendly travel. When the kids go to college, it’s all about family bonding trips that will appeal to young adults on school breaks. If your clients buy a house, you might want to support their goal with shorter, less expensive trips that year. And when they retire? The world is their oyster.
You don’t get that kind of relationship though with just seeing yourself as a booker. You need to develop deep relationships with your clients. Drop them an email when you haven’t heard from them in a while. Congratulate them when they have a big event in their life. And most importantly make sure you have a standing meeting (I suggest yearly) to go over their travel goals.
During this meeting, you can make rolling long and short-term plans. Where do they want to go in the next year? The next five years? The next ten? Maybe your client is 25 years from retirement, but wants to visit every country in the world when they stop working—how can you make that happen? While you won’t be able to give exact pricing for trips in the far future, you can talk openly with clients about what they cost now, and work with them to figure out how they want to budget for this—and this might be a time for them to bring their financial advisor into the picture as well.
Clients need you to be the travel expert in their lives and to do that, you need to embrace your role as a trusted advisor.