Some suppliers report that over the course of several years they’ll see customers returning to their hotel or cruise line, yet, they’ve booked with a different travel agent each time. What’s causing this syndrome? Here are five possible causes.
1. They couldn’t remember your name. That’s right, they couldn’t find your business card and they didn’t really even try because their experience with you was fine, it just didn’t stand out in any way. So they went to another agency that was closer to their house or that their friend recommended.
Solution: Stay in their face with emails, phone calls, and promotions selected especially for them. Make it simple to reach you and make them want to be back in your circle of expertise for their next trip.
2. Something went wrong and they didn’t tell you because they didn’t want to bother you. Perhaps they got the wrong room category or the ocean-view suite you booked overlooked the dumpsters.
Solution: Call your client as they arrive at the hotel to pre-empt any potential pitfalls. Quiz them gently to be sure everything is okay and fix any problem right away.
3. You didn’t follow up with them to see how their trip went and that confused them. They spent a lot of money on their vacation and they felt they’d made a connection with you and they were surprised that you weren’t curious to know how everything went. You assumed everything went just great because you didn’t hear any complaints and in your book, “No news is good news.”
Solution: Even if it’s time consuming, get in touch with your customers immediately upon their return; ask them if they’d change anything at all from their experience. Inquire if they’d discussed their next vacation yet and promise to follow up with them with suggestions in the next week or so. Do not wait for them to settle back in to reach out to them. You’re their advisor and they need your counsel.
4. They don’t like calling your office because the person who answers the phone is rude or they don’t like emailing you because you don’t get back to them quickly enough.
Solution: Examine every interface a potential client has with you. If need be, have a friend reach out to your office and quiz them about their perception of the experience. If they tell you the response was “okay,” step it up. “Okay” in today’s world isn’t good enough. And if you have a rude recpetionist, get rid of them or relegate them to back-office duties. Or send them to charm school. Just fix the problem now.
5. Nothing went wrong. You did everything right and even got them free transfers, breakfast daily and a guaranteed upgrade. You called them during the trip to ensure everything was fine, and it was, they said, and when they got home you had a welcoming postcard waiting for them in the mail. You touched base to see where they might be interested in going next, and provided a list of options based on the initial conversation you had with them during their first consultation with you. Still, they went somewhere else.
Don’t give up. If they received excellent service from you, there’s a good chance they won’t receive it from the next person. So keep at them, stay in touch and above all, don’t lose faith in yourself. Humans are a fickle bunch but they do learn from their mistakes. Make yourself fully accessible to this wandering client without being too aggressive and they may be back in your books another day when they realize how good you really are.