Customer service. Everybody talks about it, but the fact of the matter is, good customer service can be pretty difficult to find. Are you giving good customer service? Here’s the test: how many of your clients i) repeat travel with you more than twice; and ii) refer other people to you? If a high percentage of your clients are both repeat traveling with you and referring others, congratulations! If either of those percentages are looking a bit anemic, however, here’s an infusion of advice.
The first rule of customer service is deceptively simple: know your clients.
How well do you know the people who travel with you? Certainly you know their names, probably the names of their children. The demographic information, ages, birthdays, anniversaries are certainly all important and you hopefully have record of those events and items.
But what else do you know? Do you know where they have traveled in the past? Where did they go as children? What did those experiences mean to them? What is their favorite hotel in the world? If they could name their dream trip, what would it be? Where do they want to go next year? How about the year after that? What is their ten year travel plan? Where do their children want to go? Why do they travel? What do they like best about traveling? What is their least favorite part?
If you know those items, you KNOW your clients.
As a travel consultant, your primary task is to assist clients in achieving their travel dreams. To do so, your knowledge of their travel profile must be that of an intimate, not superficial but deeply empathetic. You have to take on their dreams as though they were your own.
Moreover, you have to update your understanding of these important ambitions at least annually. Things change! People mature, desires intensify and mellow, goals shift. As a travel consultant, you need to stay on top of the movement of your clients’ travel desires.
Take the opportunity to claim ownership of your clients by renewing your understanding of their travel ambitions. Invite them in for a cup of coffee and sit down with them, not to sell anything, but to get to know them. Give them a $12 subscription to Condé Nast Traveler to help them dream.
You are one step closer to increasing your repeat business and referral base.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.