Connecting with Your Clients
by Michele M. Cartwright, CTA
So, you’re a travel agent. Or advisor. Or designer… whatever you call yourself, you ultimately sell travel.
Or, do you?
As a new agent in 2013, I didn’t have the skills, education, or experience to start my own business and start selling travel. Far from it, in fact. I was a stay at home mom to three incredible kids with two dusty, seemingly forgotten, Bachelor of Science degrees hanging on the wall. And, although I was grateful and proud to raise my children, I also felt an intense desire to share my passion of travel with people. I honestly had no clue how to get started.
Except, I did. I just didn’t realize it at the time.
Although I didn’t have the sales experience or that business degree, I did have an incredible desire to serve people while providing them the absolute best customer experience through their travels. I didn’t need a sales class to engage with people. What I needed was a philosophy to always put people first so they knew their importance to me.
In the travel profession, you must learn to sell effectively and efficiently, but you can not forget your profession starts with the people you serve.
“How you sell matters. What your process is matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with you matters more.” Tiffani Bova
People remember how you make them feel, so make them feel good about themselves and their decision to work with you. How do you do that?
1. Pay attention to your clients. Listen and hear what they have to say. Watch their body language and look them in the eye (but remember, it’s not a staring contest!). These simple acts will help you provide the ultimate experience your client is looking for. Don’t underestimate it.
2. Get to know your clients on a personal level. Ask them about their families, their favorite vacations and foods. Ask about their special occasions such as anniversaries, then celebrate with them by sending a card or small gift. It’s not bribery, but a thoughtful action that will be remembered and appreciated.
3. Reach out to your clients on a personal level just to ask how they are doing. Congratulate them on a recent addition to their family, milestone birthday, or other special event. Don’t talk business, just let them know through a phone call or hand written note that you’re thinking of them. People want to be cared for and thought of.
4. Trust your instinct. Relationships will form naturally – don’t force your client or yourself into it, and keep it professional.
5. Be sincere. None of this matters if you don’t mean it, so just be yourself. The BEST version of yourself.
You’ve worked hard organizing your business and learning the ins and outs of the profession, but don’t forget that knowing more than your clients’ airline seat preference will ultimately gain their trust, loyalty, and respect through being yourself.
Michele Cartwright is the president and owner of Destinations by Design travel agency. Cartwright also serves as an industry mentor through her consulting business The Savvy Advisor to elevate the travel professional to their highest potential.