Have you ever formed a long-lasting impression of someone within three minutes of meeting them? Perhaps the person leapt out of their chair as they saw you, grabbed your hand and gave you a wide-open smile. Or, maybe they didn't look up at you at all, merely giving you a cursory nod that bordered on downright rudeness.
Whether it's a business or informal situation, first impressions last a long, long time and are often impossible to change. Consider the in-law that everyone in your family just adores, but you can't abide because he made an off-color joke when you met him 25 years ago, or the colleague who took your coffee mug from the office kitchen and never returned it. How do you get over something like that?
Whatever the situation, the message is simple: Upon meeting someone new, you have just moments, seconds sometimes, to make an impression...good or bad.
Several of the features in this issue of Home-Based Travel Agent delve into the topic of keeping up appearances. In her article "Creating the Perfect Pitch," Jennifer Glatt provides a variety of tips on how you can sell yourself quickly to potential clients, which include exhibiting enthusiasm for what you do, connecting with them to give them the human touch, listening and learning about their wants, being prepared by being ready to answer any question that comes your way, and finally, being honest by not overpromising on your delivery.
Susan Young, in her article "Delivering Documents with Surprise and Wow," provides keen insight on the importance of presenting a client's travel papers in a creative manner that they'll find unforgettable. Executing this practice is bound to establish a loyal bond with your client; after all, receiving documents for a cruise or a tour is one of the most exciting aspects of a trip. It's the icing on the cake that follows the arduous act of handing over the final deposit and doing all that research with you to choose the perfect vacation. Making the documentation delivery exciting also keeps you in the mix, even though your business transaction with them is essentially complete.
George Dooley, meanwhile, takes on the topic of impressions of another kind by exploring the topic of the Travel Retailer Identification Program (TRIP), a non-profit corporation that will implement and maintain an accreditation program for travel agencies that do not participate in either the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) or International Air Transport Association (IATA) settlement plans.
This issue is an important one, especially for home-based travel agents, who, as independent travel counselors, might feel the need for some type of formal accreditation program to promote themselves to the public. Does the industry need such a structure? Do you feel you need this in order to operate as an agent? Read the story "Identifying Agents" and form your own opinion and then please let me know what you think by e-mailing me at [email protected]
Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Group Editorial Director [email protected] 212-895-8423