Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero
How many times have you wandered away from shopping at a store you’ve frequented because you had a so-so experience there? Nothing bad enough to freak out over—just unpleasant. Maybe a clerk was rude or uncaring when they spoke to you, or a manager gave you a difficult time when you tried to return something, even though you give the store so much business they should roll out the red carpet when you walk in their front door. You didn’t make a fuss, but you never went back.
What if your clients wandered away from you for the same reason? Did you answer them super quickly one time and they thought you were being curt? Did it take you two or three days to get back to them with information they’d requested and they ended up thinking you didn’t really care about them much?
Could these simple actions cause you to lose a client and not realize it? You might be thinking everything is hunky dory and that they’re going to call you the next time they want a trip, but the reality is they’ve been off partying with another travel advisor and don’t have the slightest intention of returning to you, ever. How would you know?
Maintaining a good client list is challenging, but consider how difficult it can be to get that client in the first place. You earned their trust; maybe you sent them on an amazing trip and they totally loved it, namely because you spent hours on the details and worked incredibly hard to make sure it was perfect.
Why would you let all of that good faith fall through your fingers by simple, unintended negligence?
You don’t want that to happen, of course, but you can’t assume it won’t. So what do you do to prevent it?
First, decide who your best clients are. These will be the folks you’ll work on retaining the most. They give you the most business or have the potential to do so. They don’t suck your time and knowledge and then walk away or go silent on you for months on end after you’ve spent your best hours working on a proposal for them.
What Matters to Them Most? Think about your interactions with each of them. What did they try to communicate to you when they spoke of travel? Perhaps one woman so wanted her family to join together for once and have a memorable vacation. Decide when you’re going to contact her, pick several times a year, and put them on your calendar. (This was the great advice that Anne Morgan Scully, president of McCabe World Travel, gave in her seminar at Luxury Travel Exchange in September.) When you contact her, convey to her that you understand that uniting the family is important to her, and then give her some potential options for future trips. Make specific references to her family members in a gentle manner, to show that you care about what she cares about. Find their sweet spot.
What’s Their Passion? Is it car racing, opera, wine, shoes, yoga, or all of the above? Sift through the many product offerings you get throughout the day, or research what your trusted vendors have access to and craft potential travel options for your clients. Keep them engaged throughout the year with enticing travel experiences that speak to their interests. They’ll love you for it.
Pick Up the Phone: What if your clients were thinking of wandering away from you, straying because they just didn’t think you cared that much about them anymore? If you’re speaking to them regularly, just to check in with some relevant travel news that might pique their interest, any qualms they have will simply melt away. How could she not care, they’ll think, she calls me more than my own kids do!