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Client Relationships 101April 17, 2016 By: Vacation.com
This is the fifth in a series of fictional stories that we find new travel agent Tammy in as she learns more about the day-to-day challenges of selling travel.
Tammy and veteran agent Marge discover that they have much to share with each other on navigating client relationships.
Marge: Sometimes I feel I am married to my job as much as I am married to my husband. It can be a full-time job just keeping clients happy and “in love” with you.
Tammy: Wow! I never thought of it that way. I thought the hard part was just getting the clients.
Marge: Oh, it is, but once they’re yours there is no guarantee that they may “stray” and go with another travel agent for the next trip. That’s why it’s important to not forget to tell clients you love them by communicating with them in between their trips.
Tammy: How are some of the ways you do that? I always struggle with the love word in my personal relationships. LOL!
Marge: Well, first, I always say thank you for their business. I wish them well before a trip and follow-up right after they come home from their trip to see how it went. You need to make them feel important. In between the trips, I remember to send them anniversary and birthday cards. If they tell me about a milestone coming up, like one of my clients whose grandchild is graduating from high school in June, then I will also send them a congratulations card for that. People also like when you remember their family…just like when you marry, you also marry the family.
Tammy: I like to keep in touch with my clients by inspiring them digitally! I send them emails with ideas for their next trip. Hmm, here’s a thought, for your client whose grandson is graduating, you could send an email with vacation ideas for a graduation trip along with the congratulations. I also like to use social media to inspire and keep in touch with clients. I post photos and videos to whet their appetite for travel. It excites them to think of themselves on a beautiful beach, or in front of the Eiffel Tower, or along the Great Wall of China!
Marge: I love that.
Tammy: I have an interesting question. Just like in my personal life, how do you know when it’s time to dump, I mean “break up” with a client. I mean, is that even done?
Marge: You bet it is! We are in travel to sell and make money, so if you’re spending more time for less reward, then it’s time to end it...but always gracefully. What I mean is, there are some clients who might have booked with you before but of late have become let’s say serious shoppers, but not buyers, for example. You can answer their questions, but don’t spend endless amounts of time researching trips. In cases like that, I like to let them know there is a planning fee and you’ll see those types of clients disappear fast enough. Poof, relationship over. Always be polite because you do not want clients bad-mouthing you to anyone, especially if they actually brought you referrals in the past.
Tammy: So surround yourself with positive clients as you do with positive people in your life so you can grow as a person. Besides clients, how do we make sure we have positive business relationships that help us grow? You know, like my girlfriend support group!
Marge: The healthiest relationships are those that bring something strong to the table. You need to stay strong and constantly grow as a person and as a business. This also applies to the suppliers and consortiums we align ourselves with. We want to be with companies that help us grow, especially in terms of training, marketing and consistently teaching us how to be better at what we do.
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This article is brought to you by Vacation.com, and was produced in partnership with Travel Agent Central’s sales team. Travel Agent Central’s editorial team played no part in developing the article.