Written By: Scott Koepf MCC, CTC, V.P. of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
The retail travel sales business that you are a part of is made up of thousands of different models. Some are focused on a niche, others have multiple advisors working as a team, and all have distinct personalities primarily driven by the owner of the agency. Therefore, the sales process for each agency will always have unique aspects and nuances that allow for strong relationships to be created. There may be many ways to proceed through each part of the sales process but there is universal agreement on what the best result of a well thought through sales plan is. Surprisingly, it is not the close and getting the money, instead it is getting the client to come back to you.
For most travel advisors the true profitability in this business happens only when a client comes back a second, third or more times. The cost to acquire a customer the first time will probably eat up the commissions on the first sale so bringing them back is how to truly increase your net income. Last month I talked about the importance of a communication plan built for each past client. Consistency and personalization are going to provide you the best chance to be top of mind when they think about their next trip. However, there is something else that may have even a greater impact on creating loyalty and more referrals.
As I have noted before the best way to get repeat and referral business is not to ask for it but to earn it! That does not mean you should not ask but a referral granted because the client was simply overwhelmed by your service is the best kind.
So, the question is – What are you doing to WOW your customers? Before you answer, remember it is probably not one magical thing that will create fierce loyalty and raving fans. The best approach is to review, document and then enhance every step to both the sales process and the service provided post sale. If every interaction is unique and better than what the customer expects or will receive through another agent or booking direct, then you are on the right track.
Take the time to determine how you can add something to each interaction with your client that will elicit a ‘wow’.
In addition to dissecting each touchpoint with your personality and personalization, it may also serve you well to determine what your ‘Signature Service’ is. What is something special you can do during the course of the sale/service that will be not only unique but exceptionally memorable?
There are hundreds of ideas and I have listed a few below. You don’t have to invent something no one else has ever done, you just have to take hold of at least one idea and make it your own. Make it so good in fact, that it becomes part of your marketing to attract clients in the first place. In other words, don’t keep it as a surprise for when someone is already booked. Tell prospects right up front about your ‘Signature Service’ as it may be what is needed to help them decide to book with you over Costco, another agent or direct. The following is not comprehensive by any means but will hopefully get you thinking of what you will do that is exclusively available through you:
Welcome Home – Sure most good agencies send a card or make a phone call. However, I have talked to advisors who send a Pizza or a Rose when clients come home. A few even send an invitation to an annual barbeque or party where only clients are included.
A Custom Itinerary – Either in print form or electronically, a detailed day by day itinerary could set you apart. There are great apps and software programs that can help with this. What can you include which will wow your client – weather forecasts? Restaurant suggestions/reservations? Golf tee times? Spa Appointments? Pictures with your clients photoshopped in?
A Deposit Gift – Welcome Home gifts are more common so why not provide something earlier? This does not need to be costly although it can vary based on the spend level. Come up with something they will use before or during their trip and of course, put your logo on it so they will be thinking of you!
Pre-Trip Preparation – Most good advisors will provide assistance with excursions, pre and post trips and air. What can you provide to get your clients ready for the trip of a lifetime? How about a play list of music that will evoke the destination they will be going to? This can be especially effective if the destination has a specific genre that will take them to the destination before they even go (Hawaiian music, for example). You can provide a list of Movies and Television shows about the destination or set in the destination or Books, historical or fiction, that if read before the trip will enhance their enjoyment.
House or Pet Sitting – Many clients need to take care of this to even consider traveling so why not offer the service through your agency (it can be you personally or a third-party company). Your clients will think of you more often and enjoy their trip more if they know Fido and Tabby are safe!
As you can see the list could go on and on but the key is to pick at least one thing that utilizes your strengths and will set you apart from your competition so that clients will come back to you over and over and tell their friends about you because of your ‘WOW’ Factor!