Column: Top Tips From Our 25 All Stars

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We are especially pleased to introduce this group of Top 25 All Stars to you in this issue. Nominated by their very proud agency owners and managers, each member of this elite group has their own secret to success. Here are some words of wisdom I’ve culled from their submissions to share with you.

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Vice President–Content/Editorial Director
Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Vice President–Content/Editorial Director

Establish a Link: “Sell expertise and trust before product and create a relationship based on common interest. And most importantly, be honest,” says David Ash-Kuri of International Cruise & Excursions, Inc.

Make Them Feel Special: “Treat each client as if they are your only client,” says Susan Walsh of Keene Luxury Travel. “Treat them with the respect and the immediate responses they deserve and it will come back to you tenfold.”

Keep The Convo Going: “I send existing clients articles and travel-related links to keep them informed of new and fascinating places,” says Alicia Diez of Valerie Wilson Travel. “This plants a seed and fosters conversation regarding future travel plans,” she explains. Julie McClaflin of The Travel Center has a similar tactic. “When I see something that catches my attention, I send out e-mails to a few, select customers that I feel would be interested in that particular trip,” she tells us. “I follow up with a phone call and even if they don’t want the trip that I sent, I remind them to contact me if they want to travel in the future.”

Listen, Listen, Listen: “Have the traveler communicate what they’re excited about; that’s an opportunity to provide an additional service,” says Jan Herwick of Andavo Travel. “Be genuinely concerned about their questions, comments and even criticism can help with closing a sale.” Thomas Varghese of Travel Tom concurs: “You have to take a consultative approach, not a sales approach. As an agent, it is your responsibility to hear exactly what your clients want and how they need it. If you do that, the client will ultimately appreciate the value that they are getting.”

Be Upbeat: “My goal isn’t just to sell a cruise,” Lisa Long of Luxury Vacations tells us. “It’s to make a friend and a lifetime client. I’m also cheerful so customers feel at ease and trust me with their plans.” McClaflin of The Travel Center also sets a happy vibe. “I close a sale by being positive and proactive about the trip and remind them of all the great things they will see and do when they take it,” she says.

Ask For The Business: “I close a sale by holding space for the client and simply asking them if they are ready,” says Bonnie Sherman of Protravel International.

Focus: “Pick a specialty and really focus on being the best in your area,” says Michelle Carbone of Michelle’s Destinations Unlimited. “You want to be the go-to for that market.” Marsha Carroll of Travel Beyond concurs. “Know your destination,” she says. “I specialize in African safaris, so I am constantly staying ahead of trends in Southern and East Africa: new camps, new requirements, new flights and more. That level of knowledge helps me provide immense value to my clients.”

Travel More: “The smartest thing I have ever done is continually expand my personal travel experiences so I can share them with my clients,” says Michael Consoli of Cruise Planners. “I have been on more than 120 cruises and itineraries, many with clients, which have positively impacted my success in selling.”

Have Strong Supplier Relationships: “I focus on working with my top five important cruise lines [and] creating a human connection with my key industry partners,” says Jonathan Phillips of Camelback Odyssey Travel. Regarding his clients, he always follows up to see how he could have improved their experience and he always asks for a referral.