5 Best Practices for Deep Customer Connection
by Dori Saltzman

To drive customer loyalty, travel sellers need to make their clients feel cared about and engaged. This means connecting with clients on as deep a level as possible and at every touch point.

How do you facilitate that connection? At the recent CLIA cruise3sixty conference, a seminar on 40 Best Practices for Travel Agent Success addressed five ways to do just that. The seminar was presented by CLIA regional trainer Heidi Olson, ECC, CTC.

Following are highlights.

1. ‘You’ is powerful
“'You' is the most powerful world in the English language because it connects people,” Olson told the audience.  

'You' is a bridge that connects people to a concept making it theirs. Olson pointed out several consumer brands that make use of the power of 'you.' Olive Garden's slogan for instance is “When you're here, you're family”; and Marshall's tag line is “When you find it, you feel it.”

Travel sellers can also harness the power of 'you' by using the word and its various forms in their email communication and marketing collateral.

For example, rather than write to a client “Good news! I was able to get the requested space we discussed...” a travel seller should write “I've got great news for you! I was able to get the space you requested...”

2. Write for readers & skimmers
People read differently. Some like to read every word and savor details. Others skim for highlights and breeze through the rest. Travel sellers' marketing materials need to be written for both.

One way to do this is to highlight the key words, phrases and messages you want to get across. Readers will go through the entire flyer or email, but the skimmers will latch onto the highlighted parts.

A sentence describing why to take a cruise could look like this: Europe can be an expensive place. On a cruise, you’ll save money and know your costs in advance.

3. Beyond December holiday cards
Everyone likes to get a card in the mail. But businesses are too focused on the December holiday period. If you and five other businesses are sending a card at the same time, your agency no longer stands out.

Birthday and anniversaries, especially milestones, are important times to send cards. Birthday cards for older clients are especially important, Olson said. As clients get older they get fewer and fewer birthday cards, so they’ll really appreciate the fact that you remembered.

Other holidays to consider are:
Thanksgiving – Say thank you for their business;
Valentine’s Day – You can express your love for helping clients or focus on romantic travel options;
Patriotic Holidays – For those with clients in the military or who have family in the military, this is an opportunity to thank them for their service;
Country-specific holidays – Want to market all-inclusives in Mexico? Send a Cinco de Mayo card. Marketing French culinary trips? Send a Bastille Day card.

4. Make small talk
Small talk helps agents establish rapport and build trust with their customers. If you can start every phone conversation by asking clients about something you remember from your last conversation, they’ll be impressed you remembered.

If you know their son was playing in a baseball game, ask if he won the game. If you know they went to the theater last month, ask them how the play was.

“Begin every phone conversation by talking about anything but travel,” Olson said.

Of course, if it’s the third phone call of the day and you’re just confirming something, you can probably skip the small talk, but your first phone call should definitely include a little schmoozing.  

5. Write it down
To help you with your small talk, take notes every time you have a conversation. Jot down the names of spouses, kids, grandkids, parents, even pets. Take note of clients’ interests, upcoming plans and anything else you can use to get a non-business conversation started.

You should also make a record of what they asked for and then summarize what you heard to make sure you’re all on the same page before you make any recommendations.

By taking notes, remembering things they’ve said, and summarizing their travel wants and concerns, you show clients that you care about them – and that helps close sales and helps cement loyalty.

  1
  0
Comment:
You must be logged in to leave a comment Login | Register
Tip of the Day
A good online strategy involves 50% asking questions, using images, and getting likes and shares; 30% giving useful information that shows your expertise (and don't be shy, use the word "expert"); and 20% promoting your business.
 
Ron Cates
Social Media Expert, Constant Contact
Daily Top List

Top Five Beaches In The U.S.

1. Manele Bay, Hawaii
2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
3. Nantucket, Massachusetts
4. Kauna'oa Bay, Hawaii
5. Clearwater Beach, Florida
Top Stories
TMR’s Travel Marketplace Brings The Pros To Toronto
TMR’s Travel Marketplace Brings The Pros To Toronto

Even as the industry embraces technology more and more, the theme of the day seemed to be that customers really want a personal, human connection—and of course, that’s the real value a travel agent can add.

Wendy Paradis Takes the Helm at ACTA
Wendy Paradis Takes the Helm at ACTA

When Paradis steps into the role of president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents this month, succeeding David McCaig, it will be the culmination of a love of travel that started when she was 16.

Guest Column: Fraud Prevention, Part 2: Recent Schemes And Best Prevention Practices
Guest Column: Fraud Prevention, Part 2: Recent Schemes And Best Prevention Practices

Part two of our series explores recent schemes and best practices for preventing fraud. 

Luxury Agent Takes Flexible Approach To Fees
Luxury Agent Takes Flexible Approach To Fees

For Margi Arnold, owner of Denver-based Creative Travel Adventures, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to service fees.

Sabre Earnings, Bookings Boosted By Abacus Acquisition
Sabre Earnings, Bookings Boosted By Abacus Acquisition

Sabre Corp.’s total bookings increased 27.9%, to 134.9 million, in the first quarter.

Four Ways To De-Bunk Those Lingering Travel Myths
Four Ways To De-Bunk Those Lingering Travel Myths

TMR columnist Steve Gillick offers up four ways to de-bunk those lingering travel myths that not only affect your sales but also hurt the tourism sectors of the countries involved.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Travel Market Report Spotlight: Celebrity Cocktails