Better Product Training for 2011

After reading up on Travel Agent's exclusive roundtable with cruise industry executives, reader and travel agent Karen Dawson of Southlake Travel contacted us to shares scenarios she believes are missed opportunities in training.

I read with great interest your article with several cruise line executives regarding the agency community…. however, it made me crazy. I think they are missing a huge opportunity because, in my opinion, their focus is solely on the PRODUCT, PRODUCT, PRODUCT. And when the sales don’t materialize as expected, then the big push is on for “Sales Training.” Surely we need to teach the agents “how to close the sale.”

The missing factor that I see in every webinar, presentation, workshop is that the cruise lines fail to teach “how do I find the customers to buy this product?” As a result, the agents walk out of those presentations as, as Bob Dickinson used to say, “good order takers.” So if a customer calls wanting to go that destination or sail on that cruise line, by gosh the agent can sell it. But they are not given the simple tools of how to recognize a great client for that product. And it’s not a case of marketing here, with more e-mails and more direct mail, etc.

It’s more to teach the agents how to recognize the potential client for those one-on-one conversations they will have…  at their next Chamber of Commerce luncheon, their next networking event, their next wine-tasting event, etc. From there, they start formulating groups of people that might be interested in that destination or product, too. Let’s give the agents the confidence of matching these great products with great prospects.

How simple would it be to take five minutes at the end of a training session and say “Let’s brainstorm here…who would be a good client or group to sail on this ship, or destination?”  And have the agents write down at least five people they think might be a good prospect. This is not rocket science.

I can tell you the agents are hungry to sell the cruise lines products, but all they hear about is more balconies,  butler service and new duvets; they all start sounding alike after awhile.


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