How does your client base stack up? Do your clients book with you time after time for every vacation? Do your clients refer business to you? How many times have you checked in with a client to find they have booked direct with a vendor? Or to find they have been lured away with some screaming hot deal which they seem happy to tell you about?
We all hope that our clients use us exclusively and refer friends, family and colleagues. And yes, every single one of us has lost commission to a direct-to-vendor booking or a perceived deal. Successful travel agents know that to improve their customer loyalty bond, get repeat business and new clients, communication is the key. One of the best ways we attain loyalty and top of the mind awareness is the “Welcome home!” phone call.
Relax. Your client is almost guaranteed to be in a good mood. Most times they are anxious to regale you with all the good and sometimes, not so good, aspects of their trip. Your client feels they are helping you by telling their story – and they are – but it is wise to remember you have three objectives when making this call.
- First is to listen, take notes, congratulate and emphasize if necessary.
- Second is to ask for referral business; and
- Third is to plant the seed for the next vacation and piece of business.
Most clients do not need much prompting to regale you with their travel adventures. But, just in case, it pays to have a prepared list of questions in case they need prompting. For example: “How were the flights?”; “Was your stateroom as expected?”; “What was your favorite part of the trip?”
Once you have the client talking be sure to take notes and listen for verbal clues to their future vacation plans. At some point your client will finish his/her story and thank you, or there will be a suitable break in the conversation. This becomes your opportunity to prospect and to cement the loyalty bonds for repeat business. I recommend that you ask for referral business first as you want to finish out the call with the focus on your existing client and his/her future needs.
All of us have our own style and it will pay you dividends to think and practice it. Write it out if necessary and role play with a colleague until asking for business becomes second nature to you. My style tends to be folksy and goes something like this:
“Jack, that’s just fantastic to hear. I am so glad you had a great trip. I am pleased everything went off without a hitch, and you and Gail created some special memories. You know, working for folks like yourself is why I love this business. And speaking of that, do you happen to have any family or friends in the market for a vacation and in need of guidance?” (Wait for the response.) “Thank you so much I will touch base with them straight away and I promise to take good care of them.
So what about you folks? Where are we going next?” ( Or, “What’s next on the bucket list?” or “Is there anything I need to keep an eye out for you?”) These questions are designed to elicit a positive response.
You never know, you may find out your client is planning a train trip through the Rockies and had not considered asking you to help as he/she were under the belief that you only sell cruises. Or your clients may have purchased a future cruise while on board thus alerting you to take over the booking. Even better, maybe the next vacation is a family reunion which is a potential group opportunity.
So now you have new business, possibly new clients, and improved customer loyalty – all from one phone call. Don’t overlook the power of the welcome home call. Not only does it demonstrate your professionalism but in most cases it is also fun and uplifting. There is nothing like hearing of the adventures of a happy traveler.
Post written by K. Lorencz
Compass Media Consultant