How are you preparing your clients for the upcoming summer travel season? Are you waiting for them to contact you to purchase off-the-shelf product that they’ll expect to be deeply discounted, or are you assessing what their needs are and creating itineraries they’ll covet as soon as they see them?
It’s so important travel agents stay ahead of the curve by pushing new travel experiences to their clients rather than selling a stagnant inventory of trips they’ve already made. Perhaps you have a client who is a die-hard cruiser. Every year they try out a new line, but they’re a bit tired of trying to figure out on their own what’s new and exciting. Have you researched which lines are visiting new ports and creating innovative onshore trips for their customers and then contacted your clients with these fresh and interesting opportunities?
I’ll use my sister and her husband as an example. A few years ago, they became regular cruisers. The first few voyages were exciting because the entire concept of cruising was new to them. After about the third trip, however, they began to want a bit more but couldn’t really decipher what the next step was. Their travel agent was definitely an “order taker,” without any original ideas for them. My sister spent hours on the Internet researching the cruise lines directly and decided to go with a Panama Canal itinerary as it had some great ports that were new to them and fun excursions, such as boat rides to exotic retreats. They even tried kayaking. They loved it. Now, a year later, she’s in the same position, trying to figure out what will “wow” them this time around. They don’t want to travel too far afield so it’s a challenge, but I’m sure there are dozens of options available. And I know she’s not alone. There are thousands of consumers out there in the same position as she is.
Can you imagine what a luxury it would be for her to have a travel agent reach out to her from time to time with some wonderful opportunities? She’d be delighted just to be contacted and even more thrilled to save those hours of research on the Internet. I’d say that if the trip were truly based on her known likes and desires, there’s probably an 85 percent chance that she’d purchase it from the travel agent who thoughtfully sought out her business.
I know this all sounds awfully simple, but we’re emerging from a very chaotic travel environment and it’s critical for travel agents to go back to the basics of being good salespeople. Last year was a time when you all had to be incredibly reactive, dealing with deep discounting, clients who had to cancel trips because they’d lost their jobs, and the swine flu that scared people out of traveling.
This is your year to be proactive. It’s time for you to start running the show again by confidently advising your clients on what they should be doing with their families during their valuable time off. They’ll love you for it.
Go back to the basics. Take a look at the best practices you try to instill in those new agents who are starting out in your agency and be sure that you and the rest of your team re-adopt them. Mine your databases for those clients who haven’t traveled for a while and give them a call; it’s time you get back on their radar when they start planning their summer vacations.