What's the most important thing that you learned on the job in 2006? Travel Agent asked agents for their top tips and how they plan to apply them.
For Michelle Hoey, president of Pennsyl-vania
For 2007, Hoey has charged her staff with thinking of ways to enhance customer service, advising them to think about companies they personally like to work with and go back to again and again. "I want our clients to not only feel good about their trip, but feel good about coming back to us," Hoey says. "It's not about having the best price, it's who gives the best customer service."
Hoey says the best idea her staff came up with was to give employees more authority in making decisions. "One of the things we're trying to do this year is empower our agents to be able to make their own decisions, within certain limits," she says. "For example, if a client is annoyed with a $50 problem, do you want to put them on hold and shuffle them around, or do you want your agent to be able to simply say, 'We'll take care of it?'"
Sometimes the proverbial light bulb flicks on while working with a client, as it did last year for Dan Arriaga, owner of Newhall Valencia Travel in Newhall, CA. Agents always verify what their clients heading to another country will need in terms of passports, but they also need to ask what's required if their clients are holding a passport issued by a country other than the U.S.
In the example Arriaga shares, inbound visitors from the
Gary Pollard, owner of Ambassador Tours, says, "As 2006
evolved, we experienced a significant recurrence of interest in land tours
Why? "Like with so many things today, it's the Internet! The incredible amount of information available has given rise to more curious and adventurous travelers who want to explore more places and, at the same time, maximize the value of their vacation dollar."
"Ours is an extremely competitive industry," he says. "Providing the best possible service is a given; when coupled with individual knowledge of current trends, you've got a winning formula."
Largay Travel, Inc.
"I think the biggest thing I learned last year, which I
am applying this year, is that we need to work smarter," says Amanda
Kilmak, the vice president of Largay Travel Inc. in
Lastly, I discovered that proactive marketing with our current client list is the most cost-effective marketing we can do. Keeping abreast on the hot destinations and travel specials and then calling our clients in advance and suggesting trips is much less expensive than trying to find new clients for our agency."
Drew's Cruise Corner
"Learn more about your competition is the most
important lesson I learned in 2006," says Drew Tate, owner of Drew's
Cruise Corner in
"Also, always follow up. A lot of the big-time agencies
don't do this. I started calling my clients more in 2006, and you'd be
surprised by how many of them said, 'You are the first agent to call and see
how my trip went.'"