What’s better than business? Repeat business, says Amadeus, who is offering travel agents tips on how to turn sales into long term, profitable relationships.
“One of the smartest things a travel professional can do is to widen their vision—to see beyond the pending sale and instead take in all of the future sales (and referrals!) waiting in the horizon,” Amadeus says. “A little extra effort might be more time-consuming, but like any good investment, the future dividends will make your down payment worthwhile,” .
Amadeus' advice includes a free promotion with Vacation.com.
Coddle the Newbies
Want to make a lasting first impression? Treat first-time customers like a job interview or sales pitch. You want to be this customer’s exclusive travel professional, so put your best foot forward.
Before the sale, help them make the best possible decision about where to stay. It’s this kind of “counseling” that distinguishes you from do-it-yourself travel web sites. E-mail detailed deck plans and ship photos if you’re booking a cruise, or property photographs for hotel stays. Be sure to give them the local weather report, passport/visa information and even city maps.
Advise like a local on the best restaurants, shopping and events. Once their reservations are squared away, send streamlined itineraries and don’t forget to make sure they are armed with your phone number should they need help en route.
Don't Forget the Three F's
* Promptly follow-up after the trip is complete
* Ask for feedback regarding the good, bad and amazing moments from their travel experience
* Inquire about future travel plans. (Maybe that trip to Belize was so amazing they’ll want to make it an annual tradition.)
By immediately contacting a customer returning from a great business trip or vacation, you connect your name and brand with a positive experience. That connection will keep you on the radar—so they keep coming back for future travel needs.”
“What if it’s not afterglow waiting for you—but anger after a trip gone awry?” Amadeus asks. “That hotel you recommended might be your customer’s idea of a 'hole in the wall.' Don’t despair. If you are proactive in soliciting feedback and respond sympathetically, you can still earn points for customer service. Make note of their dissatisfaction and take up the matter with the travel provider; perhaps you can secure a discount at a different property owned by the company, or offer some other consolation prize.”
If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or another social media outlet, it’s easy to type in a customer’s e-mail address and see if they’re on the same social networking Web site. “Friending” a customer or requesting they become a fan of your Facebook Fan Page or follow you on Twitter is a great way to maintain your relationship and keep them abreast of deals, promotions and news about your business. Maybe even organize a contest for your online “friends.”
To Market, To Market
Social media is one way to market to customers, but it’s not the only way. Sending out e-mails and mailing postcards is a great way to get the word out and remind travelers you’re the one to see when they want to explore. It can be time-consuming and expensive to set up a marketing program, but it’s definitely one of those “you’ve got to spend money to make money” situations.
That being said, you can spend less money to make money if you take advantage of a limited-time offer to new and existing Vacation.com members. With this promotion, agents have access to Vacation.com's Engagement marketing program, free access to the Amadeus system, and many more perks. Through Engagement, Vacation.com will create special marketing pieces you can send to customers via direct mail or e-mail, customized with your business’s logo and contact information.