Talk of travel advisor efficiency often focuses on innovative new technology tools, but getting the most out of tools you’ve been using, together with working smarter, can be just as important and effective.
That’s certainly true for Kristie Staton and Krista Stocke, travel advisors who share an office at Ambassador Travel, in Evansville, Indiana. Both are veteran advisors, with 16 and 17 years respectively of experience selling travel.
While each is naturally efficient and organized, working side by side over the years has been a big help, they said. “We work together to streamline a lot of what we do, and we have learned from each other,” Staton said.
Here’s a look at the tools and tactics that help these two experienced advisors use their time wisely, effectively and efficiently.
1. Outlook Calendar
Outlook Calendar is one of the advisors’ “major organization and keeping-us-on-track tools,” Staton said.
“We keep everything on there, from when we need to price something, to payments, to when documents need to be done or we need to follow up with clients about insurance. If we’ve booked a tour a year and a half out, we mark Calendar to remind us when flights will be available. We use that every day, all day long.”
Both advisors color code everything in Outlook, making it easy to spot what type of an event or task an item denotes.
Blocking off time for tasks in Calendar helps Staton stay focused on getting things done in an allotted time frame, which she confessed is a perennial challenge for her. “Using that calendar really can help you stay organized, focused and on point.”
Making the best of the CRM tool ClientBase is also key to their efficiency strategy.
“We use ClientBase a lot. Everybody here invoices through ClientBase, but we save everything there,” Staton said. “If I send an email quote to someone, or I print out a quote for someone coming in to talk to me, I save those in ClientBase. If they call me next month, instead of having to filter through papers to try and find it, it’s all in ClientBase.
“In the client profile remarks section, we keep everything we’ve talked about. I’ll send them a quote and it’s linked in the attachments area,” Staton said. ClientBase also has additional capabilities that they don’t use, she said.
3. Quick price quotes
Sometimes efficiency is about working smart. For Staton and Stocke, that means not spending too much time researching prices for a new client.
After carefully qualifying such clients to get a sense of preferences and past travel experiences, rather than sending out multiple price quotes, the advisors simply send out a “quick quote” to move the conversation forward.
“We do not price every tour company. We start with one tour company to give them an idea of what’s available in their price range for their preferences. We always let them know that this is a quick idea to get us started and may or may not be the best option,” Stocke said.
Refining her approach to quotes was a big timesaver for Staton, especially compared to her rookie days, when she might spend all day comparing prices for something as simple as a Cancun resort stay. “We don’t have time for that,” she said.
Checklists are a time-honored way for travel advisors, including Staton and Stocke, to make sure they take care of all the many tasks associated with a booking.
“We both keep a tracking sheet of when we book something, when we’ve got the seats done, registered the hotel, talked about insurance, etc., so we know we’ve done everything. So not only do we use our Outlook Calendar, we have a checklist that we write in every day. It’s a log for each reservation,” Stocke said.
Templates are another of the pair’s work-smart tactics. “We use a lot of templates to save ourselves time, so we’re not typing everything over and over again. We have templates for vacation letters, quotes, travel documents, cover tip sheets, insurance options, so all we do is copy and paste, tweak it and fill in the blanks,” Stocke said.
6. Supplier tools
Another big efficiency boost for the two advisors is familiarity with their preferred suppliers’ technology. Knowing how to build and price things, like multiple-destination FIT itineraries, using supplier technology can be a big timesaver, Stocke said.
In Part 3 of our 3-part series, we’ll talk about nine efficiency tactics and strategies as told by a master.