Bennett + Mercado Hospitality, owned by Beatrice Mercado and Cheryl Bennett, recently invited travel advisors in the New York area to attend a half-day sales session called “Selling in a Client Centric Environment.” The training was provided by Kate Harth and Scott Russell of Dynamic Sales Solutions, two experts in the luxury travel industry sales arena.
The 25 travel advisors in attendance got a very comprehensive overview on listening to the client, responding with open-ended questions to get more details on their “wants and feels,” confirming what you’ve heard and following up with exactly what you are able to provide to them.
I don’t want to give away all of their insider secrets, but I can share that Harth and Russell recommended not asking at all about budget during the discovery process because it immediately puts an end to the sales process. “It limits the expression of needs,” said Harth and Russell. A number can certainly be discussed much further down the line, but not until the tangible and intangible needs from a trip are determined. The tangible could include specifics on time and place; the intangible is more about how the client wants to feel when they are on the trip.
Other tips? Press even further if a client gives you information. If they say they would like to receive VIP treatment at a hotel, ask what VIP treatment means to them. Do they wish to be greeted personally in the lobby by the general manager? Do they want an upgrade? If so, what is an upgrade to them? Is it a view of the ocean or a suite that’s simply on a high floor? What you’re doing here is finding out what the client truly wants in order to feel special.
Once those desires are stated, the travel advisor can get to work to creatively make things happen and even add in their own bit of magic to make memories.
“All clients want to know that we are fighting for them,” said Harth and Russell.
How to close? Do it with confidence. If you’ve truly listened and presented the client with an offer that suits their needs and desires, you should feel comfortable asking for the business. When you do so, be sure to present the value of the experiences you’re presenting. Tip: Once you’ve articulated your pricing, don’t get nervous and start speaking to fill the silence. Let the client absorb it and know that you’ve earned the right to close.
All told it was a great morning, and a great gift from Bennett + Mercado to 25 very lucky travel advisors.
“We have been in the hospitality industry for nearly 20 years and consider formal sales training critical to our success,” the two executives said in their welcome note to attendees. “With the fast-paced growth of our industry, and the constant change of the competitive landscape, it is even more important to arm travel advisors with selling tools to help your agency stay competitive. We wish to ‘Pay It Forward’ to help our industry prosper.”