As members of the hospitality industry, travel agents bread and butter comes from the relationships they have with their clients. However, between attracting new clients and retaining old ones, it’s easy to slip into a sales-only mindset and neglect building real connections with your customers. If this struggle sounds all too familiar, take a look at these tips on how to build strong, genuine relationships with your clients:
Your clients aren’t coming to you to buy a car; they’re there to get help planning their dream vacation. However, if they come in and feel like they're being talked at instead of listened to and engaged with, they probably won’t come back.
Yes, sales talk will work its way into your discussion, but if you’ve spent time learning what the client is looking for and asking them questions, it will work itself into the conversation much more naturally and successfully.
Also, this conversation shouldn’t stop after your client’s trip is over. Reach out to them and ask for feedback on how it went and what you can do better for them in the future.
A major advantage independent travel agents have over those big travel websites is the ability to pick up the phone when a client calls you with an emergency. Let your client know once the trip is booked, you are still there for them to answer questions or find solutions to unexpected situations.
This may mean waking up in late at night to find a client a new flight when the first one gets delayed or quickly responding to a Facebook message with a list of doctor’s offices near your client's hotel. Being reachable via phone, email and social media gives peace of mind to your clients and shows them you care about the quality of their trip even after you’ve been paid.
Every independent travel agent offers a unique set of knowledge and experiences that they’ve gained during their career. Sharing these stories with clients shows them you care about your job for more than just a paycheck.
Include a bio on your website explaining what drew you to a career as an independent travel agent and why you love fulfilling other’s travel dreams. When meeting with clients, don’t be afraid to let them know if you’ve traveled to their planned destination and what you loved about the experience.
These personal touches can work the other way as well. Ask clients what means of communication they prefer and when they want to contacted. If a client has a large family, tell them about the best family-friendly activities, tours and restaurants in the area they’re staying. Personalization is crucial to lasting client-agent relationships.
You worked hard to get those clients who come back to you for all their travel needs. Now, be sure they know you appreciate them and want to continue working with them in the future.
Whether offering loyalty programs or even taking them out to dinner after they return from a big trip, remind these clients that they are special to you. Never assume you’re entitled to their business and no longer need to work on that relationship.
You can find more success from a strong base of loyal clients than dozens of new ones. In fact, statistics from Gartner, Inc. say that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. Keep this in mind and nurture your existing relationships so those loyal clients keep coming back vacation after vacation.
Building genuine relationships with your clients is rewarding for everyone involved. It allows clients’ needs to be better met and also keeps them coming back to you for future travels. Independent travel agents who put in the extra work to grow these relationships will find they have a more successful and fulfilling career!