|Ruthanne Terrero, CTC, vice president–Content/editorial director|
With the new year upon us, we’re bringing back some popular how-to tips to help you sell better and enhance your clients’ experience.
1. Host an event with the local wine store: Just do it. Collaborate with the owner to have an event where locals come in and drink alcohol where you can mingle with them and promote your services. What’s easier than that? Travel plus wine equals more money for you.
2. Go somewhere that’s not on your bucket list. Sipping Champagne in the lounge of a grand hotel in Europe might be your ideal, but flip the image and picture yourself in Southeast Asia or, if you're more about the exotic and boutique, try out a classic European capital and see how you feel when you're in its best suite. It will open the world to you and make you rethink the types of travel you can present to your clients who are looking for creative input from you.
3. Visit with a local realtor to get selling tips. There are many similarities between what you’re doing and what he or she is doing, from actually closing the sale to obtaining and maintaining clients.
4. Go to Paris. It’s a good time to make the trip. And besides, if you’re a travel advisor and you haven’t been there yet, you should be blushing right down to your pinkie toes. Non? And btw, if you haven’t been to London, New York or Rome yet, either, try to to get those in your portfolio of "been theres" if you’re going to want to swim with the big kids who spend big bucks.
5. Network with someone you’re not immediately drawn to. We tend to seek out others who make us feel comfortable, but go against the grain and speak to that person in the room at the next event you attend whom you can’t relate to at all. Maybe they sell only adventure travel to Millennials while you’re super comfy with your Baby Boomer clientele, or perhaps they’ve just bragged on stage that they’ve jumped out of an airplane 10 times (gasp!) and that’s what keeps them jazzed about life. Ask what makes them tick and see what takeaways you can get from them to help you rethink your perspectives.
6. Suggest one off-the-wall trip to your client. Not something they’d never do even if you paid them $1 million, but something that sort of fits in with their interests but is slightly out of their comfort zone. If they love the Caribbean, they might love Tahiti. If they cruise exclusively, perhaps they’d want to do an all-inclusive in Costa Rica. Push their boundaries; even if they don’t take you up on it they may appreciate your thoughtful suggestions and they might start to challenge themselves.
7. Figure out how much you’re actually making from being a travel advisor. When people stumble on this question my jaw virtually drops to the floor. This is a profession, even though you love it so much. If you don’t have an intelligent way of tracking your revenue and you have to ask your network what your numbers are, there’s something wrong with how you’re looking at this gig.Think of it this way, if you met a young person just starting out who was telling you all about their great new job and you asked them how much they were making and they shrugged and said, "I'm not sure," what would you say to them?
8. Make it fun again. If you’ve been at this so long that you don’t feel like going to work anymore (even though you work from home!), reconsider why you got into this business. If ornery clients or indifferent suppliers are making your life miserable, clean house and begin again. If you're selling the same old trips, review tips 2, 4 and 6 above. Change consortia, find some amazing niche suppliers, get new clients and figure out what makes you say, “Wow” again. Life is too short to do it any other way.