1. Have you ever had clients who thought they knew exactly where they wanted to go on a trip and what they wanted to do? That you simply were the conduit for getting everything booked. It’s important that you slow these clients down; you’re the expert. Ask them why they’re going on this trip and what they expect to get out of it. Be sure that their expectations are in line with the product of services they’re asking you to book. They may be taking the advice of a friend’s friend who, just because she traveled through Europe in college, considers herself a travel expert.
2. It still baffles me that some people—highly intelligent, skilled and wealthy individuals—don’t know that the services of a travel agent are available to them. If you ask them about travel agents, they’ll say, “Oh, they went out of business because of the Internet or because airlines stopped paying them commissions.”
The reality is: it’s not their fault. Many travel agencies don’t advertise like they used to and they’re not as visible on Main Street anymore. Advertising one’s services online is certainly a viable option. Of course, there’s Twitter and Facebook, but why not go back to basics? Advertise in the weekly bulletins that are distributed by the local houses of worship in your area. Be sure that your message delivers the image you want to project.If you’re not anxious to book discounted vacation packages, be sure to send the message that the level of service you deliver is extremely high. Make yourself accessible; give certain hours that you’re available for consultation. Above all, convey the message that you’re capable of making a client’s travel dream come true.
3. Always sell up. I marvel at people who claim what a hotel room looks like isn’t important to them and that they’re only traveling for the destination. Sound familiar? Talk them out of it. Describe to them what it will be like to spend five days and nights in a hotel room that has virtually an inch of space between the television cabinet and the bed or has a tiny bathroom with no shelf space for toiletries. At the end of the first day they’ll be screaming at their traveling partner and by the end of the second they’ll be ready to divorce. Paint the picture of how lovely it would be to have a balcony overlooking the city or the luxury of having a second bathroom. Ask them what amenities they enjoy in their own homes and then convince them that they shouldn’t do without them when they’re taking a trip.
4. There may not be as many deals as there were last summer, but this is an excellent time to travel to Europe because of the lower value of the euro and pound. Americans are finally able to walk up and down the streets of some of the world’s greatest cities and enjoy a good meal or shop the best stores. Start working the phones or create promotions that convey this opportunity. If you’re also able to scope out hotels in Europe that are offering deals, it’s a homerun for your client.
5. Question: Do you carry your business cards if you are just going down the street to buy milk? If the answer is no, well, you may be throwing business away. What if, while standing in line, you overhear the woman in front of you saying that she wants to go on vacation with her family but had no clue where? Or, that a couple is planning a destination wedding but doesn’t know which Caribbean island to have it on? What if you were smart enough to bring up the topic of travel yourself to engage those around you? Advice: Always have your business cards ready and available. Writing your name and phone number on the back of a receipt won’t win you much business.