Column: How to Immerse a Client in the Travel Buying Process

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Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Vice president–Content/editorial director
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. 

Have you ever thought about the psychology of buying food? Consider the Italian deli, where sandwiches made with fresh golden bread and thinly sliced cold cuts look positively beautiful in the display case. The fragrance is mesmerizing and you’re so overwhelmed with great options for lunch, it’s difficult to make a decision. But you do, and you add in a few containers of fresh pasta sauce and some homemade ravioli and a few loaves of sesame-topped bread to your purchase, vowing to return here every week to do your grocery shopping because this place makes you feel so damn alive.

Then there’s the bakery with rows and rows of exquisite cannoli, Napoleons and éclairs laid out gracefully on lace doilies, where the scent of chocolate icing and fresh cream is so headily fulfilling, it’s almost difficult to breathe. And even though you came in just to pick up a birthday cake, you end up buying a few dozen of each pastry, and when the attendant behind the counter asks you if you want her to sprinkle powdered sugar over the contents of each box, you say yes, even though you and your entire family are on a diet.

How different this is from the restaurant experience, where you’re choosing your meal from a menu based on words — no visual cues and no scents nor sounds to tempt your senses. But it works perfectly well, time after time, because the setting has so much ambiance.

During the purchasing process our brains are wired to very willingly accept a variety of cues. We actually all want to buy something when we’re in front of a counter or in a retail setting of some sort, otherwise, why would we have shown up? Something has brought us to this moment, even if it’s a subconscious decision that we want to eat now or that we need to take a vacation. So if you’ve got someone who has come to your doorstep, even virtually by e-mail or text, how are you immersing this person, who is ready to buy, into the purchasing process? You can drown them with beautiful imagery and videos that define the travel experience they’ll enjoy if they buy this trip from you. But keep in mind that they can find beautiful imagery and travel videos very easily online; in fact, they’ve probably been barraged by it all by the time they come to you.

You can also charm them with beautiful wording entailing moment by moment what each day will be like when you send them somewhere, but they can likely also find great travel prose online or from someone else.

The trick is to combine great words and images and then add in the secret unique ingredient, which is you, the human factor. Only you can evoke the emotion behind the sale and only you can look your client in the eye and say with great conviction, “You must take this trip, your family will remember it for years.”

It’s all about giving your client “permission” to travel, to define the compelling reason to go. But while you’re at it, give yourself permission to sell to them. Don’t hold back on asserting your humanity, because if you do, you are leveling the playing field and demoting yourself to just another one of the many pawns on the Internet trying to grab a piece of your clients’ travel budgets.