Experienced travel agents know that qualifying a client for the right experience is often the first step to creating an outstanding vacation, repeat business and referrals.
Most agents conduct this process with a mix of online sales leads and client telephone or in-person interviews.
In an effort to bring that process direct to consumers, Royal Caribbean International, working with CPP–The Myers-Briggs Company, recently launched a 13-question tool for travelers to help them think about what type of cruise would fit them best.
In a press release, Royal Caribbean said that the MyAdventurePersonality.com tool would be online through March to help travelers “discover more about who they are and what places around the world would most likely energize and excite them.”
Once complete, quiz-takers receive a customized description of their traveler type, along with insight into destinations and activities that best suit them – from relaxing on a Caribbean beach to dogsledding across Alaska.
Agents take the test
Travel Market Report asked agents to test drive the tool to see whether it identified their personality accurately, and to tell us about the importance of qualifying questions.
Tammy O’Hara, owner and chief experience creator at Million Miles To Roam in Brooklyn, said she was described as a “relaxation artist.”
“At first glance I didn't think that would be accurate because I am all about seeing all the sights. I read the description further and realized that is exactly me (weird!). I am all about planning (why I became an agent), but I don't plan too much, I'm always open to going off schedule. My style is to have some things that are must-dos and whatever else we discover, well we discover. Even my spontaneous trips are planned somewhat. I thought it was pretty fun and gave me some ideas for some trips.
Mary Barrett, a Bentonville, Arkansas-based independent consultant with Cruise Brothers, also agreed with her description, “expert adventure planner.”
“That makes sense since I plan people’s vacations for a living,” she said.
That was the same definition for Jeni Chaffer, owner of Journeys Travel Inc., Bourbonnais, Illinois. ”It definitely describes me and what I would want to see and do if I actually got to take a real vacation.”
Stacey Robertson Ray, chief executive officer of Groupit Travel Host Agency in Cary, North Carolina, got “laidback wanderer,” and was told she would like Canada/New England cruises “which is not where I would want to go — been there, done that.” However, she did agree with the tool describing her doing “whatever you’re feeling at that very moment.”
“I got spontaneous sightseer,” said Susie Cleary Chau, founder at Dabble in Travel, Chicago. “The adventurous part was accurate, but I wouldn’t say that I’m spontaneous when planning a trip. However, I like to be spontaneous while traveling. I don’t over plan my own or my clients’ trips. I think you need to leave some room for serendipity and wandering to explore a place.”
Tracee Williams, luxury vacation designer at Destinations, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, said her description “is very much me to a tee!” The tool said Williams “can be packed in a couple of hours. Have passport will travel. You like the thrill of a last-minute getaway. Your next adventure is right around the corner, that’s why you’re quick to toss everything in a bag and take off whenever the mood strikes.”
Qualifying clients is critical
Several agents said the exercise was very helpful, putting them in the mindset of their clients. Trenia Logan owns Querencia Travel Consulting in Rushville, Indiana. “My psych background loves how they get into your mind by their choice of words and sensory depictions,” Logan said, adding that as a result of taking the quiz, she’s going to create one of her own for her two niche target markets. “This exercise also gave me some ideas for tweaking the language I use when I'm marketing.”
“Qualifying is essential! If I don’t qualify first, I waste my time and the clients. My choices might not fit what they are really seeking,” said Helen Prochilo, travel agency owner who was defined as a "relaxation artist.” The system told Prochilo “Europe is my place, which is true. In my second phase of cruising, I am Caribbean-ed out and have been Europe-bound not only for sea, but on land as well.”
O’Hara also emphasized the importance of qualifying questions. “I always have a consultation with my clients before presenting any offer. I try to discover their travel style, how they like to explore, what they want to see and do. Once I know that and budget, I feel comfortable putting together an initial offer. You will discover more facts once you start working with a client, but it doesn't help to start blind.”
For some agents, that assessment is best done face-to-face. “I like to meet with couples in person to get to know their personalities to match them to the right vacation,” said Sharon Berkebile Printy, travel agent and event coordinator at Good Life Travel and Events, LLC, in Lake Mary, Florida.
Chaffer discussed how the tool was instructive in thinking about the questions agents need to ask their clients to make the best recommendations. “I ask qualifying questions of all clients. If they are only interested in price, they aren’t my client. Seeing my marketing, ads on TV, ‘our friends went there,’ should open the conversation to help you choose the right match for your clients. While you can’t know everything out there — all resorts and suppliers — I’ve taken the time and initiative to get training on a wide range of products so I am well versed and able to match clients this way.”