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Expert Tips on Closing the Sale

July 23, 2007 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor, Mark Rogers, Mackenzie Allison, Joe Pike, David Eisen Travel Agent

Strategies for turning lookers into bookers

The art of selling travel is one that takes time to master.
Agents must be devoted to researching destinations, building contacts, and
earning their clients' trust. But what about those final few minutes—is there
something you say or do to ensure that you'll close the deal and make the sale?

We asked the pros for their best advice: What's your deal
clincher? What are your tips on turning lookers into bookers?

 Pascale Gherardi reminds agents to respond immediately to clients

Joan McCarty

Specialty Travel Inc.
St. Petersburg,

"Since most of my clients book their cruises 12 to 18
months prior to the actual travel date, I close the sale by offering our EZ PAY
PLAN," says Joan McCarty, owner of Specialty Travel Inc. in St. Petersburg, FL.

Audrey Hulsey says to always follow up with a call to your prospective clients

"Basically what it amounts to is monthly payments that
we automatically charge to their credit cards," she says. "By
allowing them to pay off their bill this way, we become a part of their budget
and before you know it, their second trip is under deposit before they have
actually taken their first trip. It has worked like a dream for many years now."

Linda Farina

Denlin Travel Parsippany, NJ

"Basically, I just try to make sure I find them the
best deal out there," says Linda Farina of Denlin Travel in Parsippany, NJ.
She does this "by checking everything possible, and then letting them know
why I think the trip they are booking or looking at is good for them.

"And if I don't think it's good for them," Farina
adds, "I tell them why and suggest something they might like better. I
always assure them I will check all of my resources and encourage them to
contact me if they think they find a better deal or would like to do something
else. I guess keeping the lines of communication open with the client and
really listening to them is the most important thing for me."

Audrey Hulsey

Pegasus Travel Omaha, NE

Audrey Hulsey of Pegasus Travel/American Express in Omaha, Nebraska,
says to always follow up.

"I do a lot of repeat business, so usually when someone
comes in, I know they are going to book a vacation," says Hulsey.
"But the one thing I have always done is follow up with a call.

"Whenever you meet with someone," she explains,
"find out what they are looking for and tell them exactly what they should
do. When someone is interested in a destination, tell them how they should
spend their vacation—and have plenty of back-up suggestions, differently priced
hotels, et cetera," she says. "If you show a potential client that
you know enough about where you are sending them, you will close the deal
before they leave."

And if not? "If not," she says, "make that
follow-up phone call. It's scary that there actually aren't a lot of agents who
call their potential clients up after a meeting."

Vickie Baehner

The Travel Store Brentwood, CA

Part of getting any desired result often depends on how the
process is begun. Vickie Baehner, independent sales, The Travel Store, Brentwood, CA,
makes a point of answering every e-mail inquiry promptly. And how fast is that?

"I try to get back to them right away with five or six
pertinent questions," she says. "This tends to bring them in and
shows them I have some expertise in the area they're interested in."

Baehner specializes in wine travel and Tahiti.
"One of the most important things is to be enthused about what the client
is interested in," says Baehner. "This forms a bond with the

She doesn't like to hard sell her clients or discount her
bookings to get her clients to commit to the sale, although she'll sometimes
use availability and scarcity to seal the deal. Her preferred method:
"Narrowing down questions really helps—the faster you get to the point
where you and your clients understand what it is they really want, then they
can hardly say no."

Pascale Gherardi

Voyage by Pascale New York City

Suppliers have their tactics as well—ones that with a little
tweaking could be useful for agents, too.

"I like to suggest a conference call with the client
and the agent," says Pascale Gherardi, formerly of Island Destinations,
and now the owner of Voyage by Pascale in New York, which only works with travel

"Sometimes when agents are not familiar with the
property, it really helps when closing the sale," she says. "I always
give them some tips about the hotel or the island, relating to my own personal
experience and visits. It makes people really comfortable that I have firsthand
knowledge or experience with the product."

Pascale also sends an e-mail to the agent detailing the
property and price, along with some photos of the hotel or destination. "I
offer to put a hold on a unit to allow clients to take [their] time to
decide," she says. "They feel no pressure, but know that they are
protected while they make their choice."

Lastly, "I answer the phone whenever it rings!"
she professes. "Quick answer, quick turnaround. Eighty percent of the
bookings are made if you provide an immediate response. If you are not
available, they will go somewhere else."

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