Let’s say you want to buy a house. You have a meeting with the real estate agent explaining in detail what you want. He smiles and nods – but makes no note of what you are saying.
You could say that’s a little like meeting with a client who’s inquiring about a trip. How much better to be prepared with a qualifying form to complete to show your interest and professionalism! And to reinforce that you are commencing a business relationship.
Your form should include information about their past travel history. Where have they been, when and why? Who travelled together? How did it go? (Note: you are not asking about costs, but about memories and experiences)
For this trip, ask again who is travelling and if they have any special requirements such as mobility or dietary. Find out what is a must-have (perhaps golf courses), a nice-to-have (it would be nice to be less than an hour from the airport) and a don’t-need-to-have-at-all (a spa).
Get them to describe what would be their perfect day on holiday. This will help you learn about their tastes and priorities.
Above all, let them talk. Don’t interrupt and don’t make assumptions. You may be surprised how much you learn when you are silent!
You can of course create an online form to complete but some travel advisors prefer old-fashioned paper as they feel it’s less of a ‘barrier’ between them and the client than an open laptop.
When you get into the phase of making suggestions, be candid and confident.
And when you have their complete attention and they are hopefully excited about the trip … is the perfect time to address your fee structure. The clients have an idea of what your skills are and what you can do for them, so there’s no shame in speaking about what you will charge.
The conversation could go along the lines of: “Let me tell you how this can all fit together. I believe I can make this a wonderful experience for you, and I have the ability to make your holiday a vacation perfectly tailored to what you need and want. Just so you know, my planning fee will be $50. (or $500, or whatever it is). Shall we proceed?”
If you’ve done your job right, chances are you’ve just made a sale – thanks to the invaluable process of qualifying the client.
Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel Solutions, which has an ever-expanding and vibrant program for independent agents. With over 30 years in the Canadian retail travel industry, Lynda says she “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.