Written By: Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC
I was reminded this past month how amazingly valuable referrals are to everyone’s business, no matter what the business. We recently decided to remove an oddly shaped rock slide that flowed into our pool and replace it with a stone waterfall feature that overlooks our lovely view of the valley and Palomar Mountain.
Tom began researching online to try to find someone in San Diego County that could build the dream feature he had imagined in his mind. Having no experience working with anyone who specializes in this, he was searching for referrals. After a long and ardent search he was given a name from a guy at the local nursery who knew a guy, who knew a guy. You get the picture, but after much persistence he found the right person for the project. Three months later the feature is finally complete…or one would think so.
Now we need light work. The conduits for the lights were in but where to get the lights and who to trust to do the electrical in a water feature became the next step. Back to the referral process and we posted a message in a very cool social network called Nextdoor. If you have the chance to join it in your community, I highly recommend it. It is a private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it’s free. We love it and have had great success selling items on it and finding things as well.
I posted a message looking for recommendations for a good electrician and was rewarded right away with several names. I landed on one who is a great guy, hard worker and does amazing work. The lights are in and I even had him add some additional motion detectors and other lighting around the property.
Referral marketing and customer referrals are nothing new in the world of travel sales, but sometimes I think we tend to overlook their value in an ever-increasing focus on digital marketing. Certainly we are all keen on generating new business and greater profitability. We just have to keep customer referrals front of mind and also fine ways to make them a valuable part of online marketing strategy.
According to the Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising Report, 83% of the online respondents in over 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family. In the report people from all over the world shared in recommendations from people they know, and these individuals take actions such as reading reviews, evaluating produces and making purchases. It is no surprise to any of us that given the level of trust, referrals increase sales! People feel more comfortable when a product or service is recommended by someone they know and that they can trust. This trust can immediately transfer to your travel business through word-of-mouth.
Another great bonus to having a referred customer is that they are typically less price sensitive. Now that is a bonus, right? Because they have come to seek out your business and already have a sense of trust, the sale is not focused on price, but rather on service and value.
So the question is, how do we generate customer referrals to build our respective businesses? Following are some simple ideas to work into your growth strategy.
Don’t Be Shy…Ask for Referrals
Sounds pretty simple, but you would be surprised how many people just don’t actually ask. You need to develop a method of asking that works for you personally. You have to be comfortable asking and it has to be sincere and fit with your business demeanor. If you truly believe you offer great value to your clients then you should feel proud to ask!
Help Your Customers Refer You
Perhaps your clients would like to share your great service with others but are not sure exactly how to do so. Here are some ways you might help them to share your amazing service with their friends, family and others.
Add links to your website pages for all those review sites out there where you appear such as Yelp, etc. Additionally, create links to those review sites in all of your communications to clients. Put it under your signature line in emails, on your Facebook company page, in your direct mail pieces. Basically, make it easy and simple for happy customers to share their great experience with others.
Say Thank You
Most people who refer you are motivated to do so because you helped them and are not looking for more then that. However, if you wish to share your gratitude in other ways, you certainly have options.
Some agents have referral programs in place to motivate the continual “sharing” and many of those ideas are posted on www.TravelProfessionalCommunity.com. Just type in referrals in the search bar and you will see lots of threads on the topic and ideas that might work for your business.
Networking groups like BNI, Le Tip and others work well for many agents. They give you an opportunity to educate the other members of the group on what you do and this helps to generate referrals.
Needless to say your local Chamber of Commerce or other community business groups are always a good way to get your word out in the local community and to encourage referrals.
Customer referrals can be self-perpetuating and gain more customer referrals. As you continue to build your customer base with customers who have loyalty and satisfaction with your brand and service, then they can potentially refer more and more customers to you which of course is the ultimate goal.
So we now have a beautiful improvement to our home and two professionals that we will refer on to others in need of their services. We have already written reviews for the waterfall contractor and Tom is even helping him to build a new website to feature the amazing work he does. We are grateful for the recommendations we received and are certainly paying it forward!