Communication is often structured around how people perceive the world through their senses, says Dr. Gregory Stebbins, author of “People Savvy for Sales Professionals” and a partner at People Savvy, a training and consulting company. All people have a preference for one sense over the others. In the United States, most people are sight dominant, with a significant number focused on their auditory sense. A small minority are feeling oriented, or kinesthetic.
Speaking to clients using visual, auditory or kinesthetic vocabulary is one way to increase the effectiveness of agents’ communications. By listening to clients speak, a travel professional can determine which language to use.
For instance, a visual person will say things like: “That looks interesting,” or “Show me more.” An auditory person will say: “That sounds interesting,” “or “Tell me more.” A kinesthetic person will say: “That feels right.”
Dr. Stebbins offers some suggestions on wording to use when speaking to visual and auditory clients.
To present an offer to a visual person say something like: “Today, I’m going to show you some incredible things to do in Italy that you may not have seen before.”
For an auditory client, an agent could say: “Here are some amazing things about Aruba that you might not have heard about before.”
For a kinesthetic person, you might say, “This beach has a great feeling.”
But while listening for a client's mode of taking in information is important, it's also important to listen for the hidden meaning in their words.
Use Welcoming Words
According to Carolina Murillo, leisure district manager for Garber Travel, the words that travel agents use when communicating with clients is very important to connecting with them, as well as maintaining relationships.
“We have regular (quarterly) small group meetings to discuss ‘connecting with the client.’ Relationships being the number one focus for us in keeping and developing our customer base. Language and really listening are helping us have less customer service issues. It is amazing!”
For instance, she said, “Our staff is very sensitive in using words that make them feel that we have been waiting for their call/needs all day.”
Garber Travel leisure agents do not use the word “busy.” If caught using that word, they are fined $1 (a Habitat for Humanity piggy bank benefits).
“No one wants to hear that you have been busy and haven’t had a chance to call or get back to them,” she said.
Murillo said each group training session has specific themes and they use the latest studies, articles, books and role playing.
Beware of Shopping Language
She also told Travel Market Report agents should be aware of “shopping” vocabulary.
She offered a few key phrases to look for:
“I just want to see what you can get for …” Murillo said is a clear indication of an “Internet junkie” simply looking for the lowest price.
A client who says “I heard” or “I read” is double checking their own research.
The best clients are those who say “I need someone to…” These clients, she said, are truly interested in getting the work on their vacation done.