Do your clients trust you? I’m pretty certain that the degree to which you are at this moment successful as a travel consultant has a lot to do with your native ability to develop a bond of trust with your clients. The mix of the confidence you exude, the knowledge you have and the way you communicate is working for you. To the extent that you are losing sales and have not yet achieved the client base you want, it may be worthwhile to examine the elements of trust and how they are projected through your marketing.
Clients want to do business with people they trust. In the case of a travel agency, you are not selling a product, you are selling your ability to assist the client in making smart buying decisions about travel. Therefore, trust is absolutely essential. Your client must trust in your competence and your authentic desire to assist them to travel better.
Because travel consulting is very much a one-on-one encounter with a client, your personality is key to the sales equation. You need to ensure that each communication carries with it the indicia of the values that makes your company unique and, more importantly, trustworthy.
Firstly, align your marketing messages with the core values of your agency. Whether you are networking in your local community or tweeting your way to a client base, make sure that you are communicating a consistent, clear message about your company ethic. If customer service and consulting is your forte, don’t push product and price. Make certain that your every marketing effort tells something about your company in a very personal way. Emphasize your individual agents and something of their personality. Consumers want to buy from people and they want to know who is the personality behind the web site, the advertisement and the public relations event.
Most importantly, avoid cliché in your marketing. Industry jargon and a repetition of the same tired promises and headlines that consumers see on any random travel ad give them no distinct reason for visiting with you. Instead, let them know how they will benefit from doing business with your company.
Include third party testimonials when possible. Maybe every ad is not appropriate for a testimonial, but when appropriate work in a statement from a satisfied customer. Testimonials remove a lot of the fear factor from the decision to work with any particular company, and carry an inherent credibility.
Be empathetic, show compassion and share the excitement your clients bring to the table. Deliver on the promises you make in your marketing efforts. If you are truly client-centric, if your key concern is for their well-being, it will show. In the end, it’s not what you say you will do, but what you actually do that will either earn trust with your clients or break that bond. The client that trusts you will also recommend you.
Continue building trust with your newsletters, blogs and other client communications. Ensure that every effort implicitly speaks to core values in a consistent tone. Give your clients and potential clients lots of ways to get in touch with you: email, address, phone and web site URL. One of the most poignant signs of trust – give a client a cell phone number to reach you at all hours (and then accept the consequences!).
Relationship building happens over time and is founded on authentic marketing that fosters trust. You will have few company assets so valuable.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.