Five Things to Ask Yourself Today

1. Do you have a client who is a BlackBerry fanatic? Someone who’s checking e-mails whether they’re in New York or Paris or Cape Town? Have you ever e-mailed them when you know they’ve just checked in to the hotel where you’ve booked them to see if everything is all right?

Why not?

This is the period that is most critical to a trip. Maybe the check-in process didn’t go smoothly (perhaps the checkout date or the nightly rate was off) or the room isn’t quite right or even terribly wrong (perhaps it’s facing the parking lot and not the ocean). These are all errors that can set even the most congenial client into a woeful tailspin of fault- finding and you can be sure your name is going to come up as part of the problem.

This can all be fixed easily enough with a text or a call to your customer. If you resolve the problem, you’ll look like a hero. If there’s no issue to fix, you’ll still come across as someone who cares.

2. Is there a client you used to do a lot of business with but haven’t heard from for ages? Are you embarrassed to get in touch, thinking they may have gone to another travel agent? Suck it up and call them. Odds are, they’re curious as to why they haven’t heard from you. Or, maybe they’ve been booking their own travel on the Internet and been burned a couple of times. Ring them with a few amazing deals that are out there and be sure to match up your offerings with the type of travel they’ve done in the past.

3. Has a new client walked into your office or e-mailed you with a very specific request? They’ve told you exactly where they want to go and how they want to get there. Easy booking for you, no? Stop right there. You may be booking this client on the trip from hell. Perhaps they’re requesting this itinerary because their best friend just did it and they’re jealous. Maybe they’ve asked you to reserve them a spot with an adventure tour operator when really their taste is for five-star hotels and Champagne at 4 p.m. every day. Have another conversation with this person. Engage them. Find out who they really are before you send them thousands of miles away from home.

4. Have you ever gone onto Twitter and typed the words “travel agent” into the search box? Have you come up with a long list of lousy comments from consumers who are complaining about how their travel agent messed up their vacations? Perhaps you’ve signed off in disgust, feeling forlorn over your chosen vocation. Go back in there now. “Tweet back” the complainers (by using that little curved arrow next to their comment) and type in these words, “Next time, get in touch with a professional travel planner.” Give them your website and phone number. Fight for their business and for the integrity of good travel agents.

5. Do you curse the economy for the way your business is floundering? Or find yourself swearing at the previous or current Administration for truly harming your livelihood? Get over it. There are many small businesses that are succeeding in these wild times because they’re thinking out of the box. They’re also controlling costs and making tough decisions to run profitably. Don’t be your own worst enemy.

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