|April Schmitt of Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons always shows a client what they can get for their price range.|
What are the top tips for closing the sale of a luxury vacation? We asked the winners of the Top 25 All Star travel advisors from Travel Agent magazine’s November 16 issue for advice. Listen, listen, listen, was the key message echoed by virtually each All Star advisor. Here are some additional tips they recommended to earn the client’s trust, all of which can easily be adapted to your destination wedding/honeymoon clients.
Do It for the Right Reasons
Kaelin Rybak of The Travel Authority in Louisville, KY, says if you have your customers’ best interests at heart, everything will fall into place.
“Always listen to the client and do what is best for them. If you listen and qualify, it is not difficult to close the sale,” she says.
Gina Griffin of Frosch concurs that closing a deal should be a foregone conclusion at the outset of the conversation. “Every client that calls wants to go somewhere or they would not make the initial call. It is my job to engage them in the conversation and get them excited about their trip. I try to make them aware of all of the possibilities of the destination they are interested in. I usually send them some photos of the area in their trip proposal so they can see themselves there,” Griffin says.
Painting that picture, even virtually, truly eases the way.
Paint the Picture
Jean Paugh of All About You Travel Unlimited, an independent affiliate of Uniglobe Travel Center in Rockledge, FL, says that she upsells by sharing experiences she’s had through fam trips.
“I close the sale when the clients love what I have put together for them, and while they’re relishing the thoughts of the picture I painted for them, I ask them how they would like to pay for this trip so we don’t lose the amazing properties we have found or that perfect suite on the cruise they want,” says Paugh.
Florence Brethome of TravelStore in Los Angeles always designs for her clients, not for herself, since it’s her clients’ needs and expectations that must be met. Upselling then becomes completely natural, as she enhances the potential of each vacation with enthusiasm. Says Katie Cadar, Brethome’s manager: “Florence’s passion for travel and excitement for each vacation she creates allows her to close the sale. As she often says, ‘I would love to go on that trip!’”
Have a couple that can’t quite decide where to go? Franca di Spigna of Valerie Wilson Travel says to drill down and make it personal. “If a client is on the fence about where to go, I get as much information about their interests and make suggestions,” she says. For example, if di Spigna has clients who like outdoor adventures, she might recommend Atacama, Chile, for its dramatic desert landscape and amazing stargazing.
Debby Denson of Brownell Travel has similar sentiments. “Specialize in your clients,” she advises. “The Internet cannot understand travelers’ unspoken needs and wishes. Closing sales and upselling, when appropriate, is easy if you work with people you trust, and who trust you.”
Know Your Suppliers
Another tip? Be fully armed with details of what your travel suppliers are offering, so much so that your clients will be pleasantly overwhelmed with options. Michelle Bemis of McCabe World Travel says, “It’s all about having knowledge of the product and knowing what tour or partner would be the perfect fit for a particular client. You have to present travel that a client cannot say ‘no’ to.”
At times, it can be wise to ease in to the upsell. Helen Reid of Your Travel Center/Montecito Village Travel in Santa Barbara, CA, typically offers up four-star hotels to her clients first. She’ll then provide the option of a five-star hotel in the Virtuoso hotel program that comes with value-added amenities.
“This helps close the sale as she doesn’t want to overwhelm the average traveler with a large quote and lose them altogether,” says Robin Sanchez, Reid’s manager. “She will give the client breathing room but will always follow up quickly. If the quote is over budget she will offer less expensive options, reassuring the client that the lower budget option can be just as wonderful an experience.”
Upsell for a Reason
Sometimes, just a small incremental amount added to a budget can make a big difference in the client experience. For that reason, April Schmitt of Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons always shows a client what they can get for their price range. She then shows them what they will get if they stretch their budget and how their travel experience will be enhanced. This could be a better room view, all the better to enjoy a glass of wine with, or business class air to ensure the clients arrive in their destination more rested.
“It’s also important to offer excursions during the initial sale, at final payment time and before travel,” advises Schmitt, noting, “Additional fee-based services like dinner reservations and show tickets shouldn’t be overlooked.”
When explaining why an upgraded option will enhance an experience, reach out for your clients’ heartstrings.
“Describe to them the emotions and feelings that the upgrade will bring to them and that is available now and not guaranteed at a later date,” advises Sharon Campbell Little of Wedding and Honeymoon Travel Group in Murrieta, CA. “Create a sense of urgency with your client advising them that pricing and availability is always changing. You want the client to get the best value deal, and that with a small deposit this amazing experience can be confirmed and booked. Give them something to look forward to and feeling of achieved something great once it is booked.”
Listening Is Caring
In the end, asking for the business is always the way to close the deal. After she’s ensured that she’s listened and listened to her clients, then listened some more, Pamela Jacobs of TravelStore in Palos Verdes Estates, CA, matches them with the best choices possible.
“I give my undivided attention to any call I am on,” she tells us. “If I have a client at my desk, I’m sure to take notes, but I really talk to them, asking them open-ended questions, and taking it all in. They’ve come for my expertise and it is my responsibility to deliver it.”
After that? It’s time to send your client on the dream trip they’ve come to you for.
“Ask for the business!” says Jacobs. “Earn their confidence and go forward. Ask, ‘Are you using American Express or Visa card today?’ Adjust to each client, but always ask for the business.”