One of the most important skills a travel advisor can master is qualifying clients. Qualifying helps to not only match clients with the right destination or product, but also enables advisors to plan vacations that truly meet their clients' needs and desires.
Qualifying questions are the best sales tool advisors have, Melinda Fortunato, owner of Best Travel, a Nexion member agency, told Travel Market Report.
"Our job is to specialize in our clients," Fortunato said. "We really have to know them very, very well in order to give them the experience they want and for them to come back and keep using us and refer other people."
Using a series of qualifying questions can help advisors understand their clients' preferences – what they like and don't like, travel goals, budget, but can also go much deeper.
"It really allows a deep understanding of ultimately why they're going on vacation and what they're looking for," Fortunato said. "Being able to really know what it is they're looking for and those emotions that they want when they go on vacation … Those kinds of things, that's really so important to know."
Qualifying also lets advisors who work with destination management companies or FIT tour operators to help their partners do a better job.
"DMCs and tour operators are so busy," Fortunato added. "We need to make sure that we respect their time and if we are filtering our clients and vetting them well, then we can send only good quality clients and all of the information that they need to be able to help us create a great trip. That's important for us as professionals as well.
When it comes to how to present qualifying questions to clients, advisors have a couple of choices. Some prefer to use a questionnaire, while others prefer to have a 20- to 30-minute phone call or Zoom meeting. Which you decide to use will depend on your workflow, your communication style of choice, and your clients' preferences.
"For myself, a phone call is magic," Fortunato told TMR. "Nowadays, people feel like it's a really big deal if you take the time for a phone call… They can hear in your voice your expertise, they can hear your interest, and that you're genuine and sincere about taking this trip seriously for them."
Marcie Muensterman, owner of a Cruise Planners franchise said much the same about doing Zoom meetings.
"This allows us to see each other, know that I am truly listening and take that time to give all of my time and energy to them," she said. "I guide them through a conversation that allows for connection beyond the vacation so they can also get to know my sense of humor, do we have anyone in common, what do we have in common personality wise or life wise. Creating a connection allows them to loosen up and be more vulnerable with what this vacation may really mean to them."
Qualifying questions should be specific to the current trip, as well as about past travels, their travel aspirations, as well as general personality and travel-style questions.
Here are 25 questions offered up by our readers that you can use to help qualify your clients.
Questions Specific to the Current Trip
1. What type of travel are you looking to do? All Inclusive? Cruise? Europe? – Lynda Tomilin, Independent by Flight Centre
2. What are you hoping to do and see on this trip? -- Nancy J, Travel Best Bets
3. What do you consider a reasonable budget for this vacation? -- Susanne Van Speybroeck, Cruise Planners
4. What would make this trip feel like it's a successful trip? -- Laurie Ratcliff, Cruise Planners
5. What DON'T you want to do? – Melinda Fortunato, Best Travel
6. What are the deal breakers for your trip? (i.e. no tours starting before 10AM, modern bathroom, closet in the room) – Cindy Dykman, Inspired Travel Designs
7. What type of travel style do you prefer (active, easy pace, etc)? – Abi Recio, FROSCH
8. What will make you say "that was an amazing trip" on the flight home? – Lindsay Belcher -- Dreams by Design Travel
9. Are you celebrating any milestone? – Shelley Kohtz, Witte Travel
Past Travels Questions
10. Where have you traveled before? -- Ellen Sisser, McCabe World Travel
11. What was your favorite vacation? -- Holly Brady, Take the Trip Travel
12. What was your worst trip and why? – Steven Hook, Lisa Balistreri Travel
13. Share a memorable experience that you have had with your travel companions and why was it memorable? – Lisa Silvestri, Silvestri Travel LLC
14. What destination excites you the most and why? -- Jermany J Dorsey, Destins by Dorsey, LLC
15. What is on your travel wish list? – Pamela Germ, Sunshine Travel Company, Inc.
16. Where is your dream destination? – Terri, Access to Travel
17. What brings you the most joy when you think of going on a vacation? Relaxing for health and well-being or doing something adventurous that takes you out of your comfort zone and re-energizes you? – Anonymous
18. Why do you like to travel? – Richard Ghazarian, InteleTravel
19. Rank in order of preference when booking travel: a) Overall budget b) Extras & perks available c) Luxury experiences d) Accommodation quality – Emily Kaplan, Avani Travel Co
20. Tell me a bit about your family: how old are your kids, what do you and your spouse like to do for fun? -- Bridget Edwards, Favorite Grampy Travels
21. Tell me about your hobbies and favorite activities. -- Laurie Ratcliff, Cruise Planners
22. What do you like to do for fun? – Adrienne Mitra, Celebrations International Travel
23. Do you like a party atmosphere or more quiet and laid back? -- Holly Brady, Take the Trip Travel
24. How much do you love to eat and do you love to try new dishes? – Carol Carrillo, CC Vacations LLC
25. Is favorite kind of restaurant a hole in the wall with great local food, are you on the hunt for Michelin-star cuisine, or are you just as happy ordering takeout or room service at the end of the day? – Anonymous