People rationalize their buying decisions using the most precise logic. Once they have made a decision, a buyer can list all of the features that drove them to purchase. The reality, however, is that people make buying decisions based not on logic, but on emotion – how they feel about the product and, more importantly, about you. That’s why a good travel consultant must understand both the client’s logical thinking process as well as their emotional make up. At the end of the day, buying decisions are based on emotion.
These baseline facts, however, can create confusion for the travel counselor. Playing to people’s emotions sounds like a cheap sales trick. However, it is possible to utilize this knowledge with integrity and in the best interests of your client.
Firstly, clients want to travel. You don’t have to “sell” them on travel. What you do have to sell them on, however, is yourself. People make emotional buying decisions, but a big part of that emotional experience is based on trust. In order to gather a core group of clients around your practice, you have to develop the ability to engage your clients on a deep level, to inspire confidence. Certainly facts are important, clients will want to know the features of a travel plan. But firstly they want to trust your ability to guide their selection process and to bring your own logic to the fore. They count on you to exercise the logic function on their behalf, to bring your expertise to bear on what can be an overwhelming amount of data.
But what is it that will win over the client’s confidence? What persuades a client to make an emotional investment of trust in your travel practice? People do business with companies that make them feel good. Deep within most people is the capacity to inherently understand when a company mirrors their own values. People look for empathy, for a travel planner than has the capacity to best understand their own situation, to honestly assist them in making a buying decision. Great travel consultants think from a client-centric point of view. The emotion such a travel planner seeks most to elicit is trust. That’s why all of the agent’s collateral, demeanor, choices and presentations have to exude a client-centric perspective. Empathy combined with confidence, with a bit of personality thrown in, equals trust.
That’s the emotion your clients are secretly seeking. Draw them in with trust and they will leave with travel.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.