Entrepreneur Stephanie Lee’s monthly guest column for self-employed travel agents often focuses on issues related to working from home.
There is something about a face-to-face meeting, isn’t there? Something tangible. You can feel the relationship growing.
While I can form great relationships via email and phone conversations, it’s the in-person conversations that stand out. They give me a concrete experience to recall, complete with a face and voice.
That’s why I make sure to meet face-to-face with travel agents throughout the year. I enjoy the stronger relationships I have with those agents. They also benefit my business.
Takes more effort
Here’s the problem for those of us who are home-based workers. Clients rarely stop by our homes for in-person meetings. Almost everything is done online or via the phone.
We shouldn’t forget the power of face-to-face consultations, especially in our relationship-based business.
Because we’re working from home, we need to make an added effort to schedule face time with our clients.
The power of video
I bet you’re thinking that I’m about to suggest that you schedule more lunches and attend more networking events. I do love those – who doesn’t love good company and good food.
I’m talking about something else – video calls and video conferences, using services like Skype or Google Hangout. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home for these face-to-face meetings!
I rarely see travel agents using video calls to meet with their clients. However, for home-based agents who have less face time with clients than their storefront counterparts, this is an especially valuable tool for building stronger relationships.
Getting past common roadblocks
Not everyone is comfortable with video calls – maybe yourself included. So let’s address some common hesitations.
1. My clients don’t use video calls.
While video calls may not be a good fit for all your clients, I’m guessing there are at least a few who already use video calls.
You don’t need to push it on your other clients, but if you’re scheduling a call, why not see if they want to do a video chat instead? You might be surprised.
2. I don’t have the technology.
Video call software is free to download and free to use. All you need is an Internet connection.
3. I’m not a techy.
Video call services have been around for quite awhile. These programs are set up to be easy to use for everyone, including non-techies. (TIP: As with any new technology, do test it out with a trial run before using it for business.)
More business benefits
Let’s talk about another selling point of video calls – they differentiate you from your competitors, including online agencies.
This is not just about adding another bullet point to the list of services you offer. Offering your clients the relatively unique service of video calling paints a picture of your agency as one that embraces new technologies.
Video calls are also a good value-add when working with groups. If you’re planning a destination wedding, your bride may be very excited to learn that you can host a group video call for the wedding party and guests.
You can use the call to explain the trip in more detail and give guests an opportunity to ask you questions – all from their homes.
Making it happen
To get this thing rolling, it will take more than just adding “video calls” to the services-offered section of your website.
To see video calls adopted by your clientele, you need to start telling clients about the service, including why and how video calls will make things easier for them.
To do this, you need to believe that face-to-face video calls add real value for both you and the client. So, the question is, do you? If your answer is no, I suspect you haven’t given them a try. Perhaps it’s time you did so.
If your answer is yes, I’d love to hear how you’re using video calls in your business. You can share your experience with video calls in the comments below!
Stephanie Lee operates Host Agency ReviewsSM, which features agent reviews of host agencies and tips for starting and growing a travel agency. Connect with Steph on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.