If you have new travel advisors on your team, or if you’re just starting out yourself, here are some sound pieces of advice to get you through the day.
- Edit your e-mails before sending them. Re-read them for phrasing that makes you sound uncertain of yourself. Watch for words like, “I think maybe you should consider…” and alter it to, “I recommend you do this…” Don’t sound hesitant or doubtful, and be perfectly clear in your messaging. Above all, don’t say, “I’m a newbie at this so I sure hope it all works out!” Not that you would do that. Watch as well for typos, poor grammar and an overall rushed look to your e-mail. If the customer has any reason to doubt your accuracy in the smallest ways, they may be wary that you will see properly to the details of their itinerary.
- It’s not too expensive! Have a client asking about the cost of a two-week vacation in a top suite in Paris during Fashion Week? Do they want to rent a jet to see their alma mater play in the Final Four? Don’t be embarrassed to quote them the cost. You may think it’s crazy to spend that type of money, but this isn’t your trip. In short, don’t think with your own pocketbook. Do the research, get all the facts, and deliver the information requested. Same goes for quoting the cost of personal tour guides, yacht rentals and private drivers.
- Overly communicate with your clients. Are you behind schedule in getting information over to your customer? Are you angry with yourself that you’re in this position? This is not the time to go quiet on them as you fiercely struggle to find the time to get the deed done - and done right. Contact your client, explain that you’re working on their project and give them a realistic ETA of when you think you’ll be back in touch. People just want to know you haven’t disappeared on them and that they still matter to you. If you present your timeline to them in a very comprehensive manner, they’ll be fine and you’ll be able to think calmly again about what you have to do for them.
- If you make a mistake with your trip planning and cost quotes, take a deep breath. See how much you can fix behind the scenes with the help of your trusted suppliers. When you’ve done all you can, communicate with your client what the situation is and what needs to be rectified. They’ll understand you’re human and if you present the facts professionally, it’s likely all will be well. Remember, it’s all in the recovery and how you handle it. There are some mistakes you will not be able to come back from and you may lose a client forever, but that is a learning experience that will help you throughout the rest of your career.
- Treat your suppliers well. This is not a one-off relationship where you push heavily to get whatever you need from them, whatever it takes. You’ll be working with them again and again and you need to develop a respectful relationship with them. Being abrupt, rude and demanding might get one tiny task done quickly but will likely mar that very important alliance in the years to come.
Do you have advice for new travel advisors? Share them with me via e-mail ([email protected]) and I’ll present them in a future column!