‘I’ll be there for you’: It’s not just a sitcom song, it’s a mantra for serving clients, says IFC

‘I’ll be there for you’: It’s not just a sitcom song, it’s a mantra for serving clients, says IFC

To steal a line from The Rembrandts: it hasn’t been many people’s day, week, month or even year. 

And if you haven’t already, NOW is the time to be connecting with your clients to let them know that, just like a great friend, you’ll be there for them. 

With rising vaccination rates, improved safety protocols, and more countries opening their borders to international visitors, one thing has become clear in recent weeks: Canadians miss travel and are eagerly filling their calendars with adventures to look forward to. 

Many clients are planning shorter domestic getaways for the immediate future and longer international trips into 2022. July 2021 saw Independent by Flight Centre experience its best month since COVID restrictions were implemented. Our agents are seeing a surge of inquiries from travellers eager to explore again, and plan trips to re-connect with loved ones. 

If you haven’t already re-engaged with your clients, what’s holding you back? After nearly 18 months of restrictions, self-isolation and staying home, it can seem a daunting task to put yourself out there and start promoting travel again. And while there is still a level of uncertainty, it’s a challenge our IFC agents are facing directly. Here is how they are doing it: 

SOCIAL MEDIA: Matthew of Flyghtplan has been using Instagram Reels and Stories to connect with clients and followers. Not only are they entertained by his humorous travel related posts, he is using the comments, engagement, and tools to gather information on where his clients comfort levels are such as adding polls to understand what types of trips they are looking for and any concerns they may have so that he can address them.  

SHOW & TELL: Caitlin from Vacations by Caitlin and Julie with Travel Our World have recently departed for Jamaica and Greece, taking their clients along with them for the ride – virtually. They shared all their pre-travel preparation from COVID testing to the paperwork the respective countries required, their airport experience, what the flight was like and arrival procedures once they reached their destinations. They are providing their clients a firsthand glimpse into what to expect and inviting questions along the way.

NEWSLETTERS: If you’ve let your regular newsletters or updates to clients lapse, now is the time to restart. You can share any personal travel plans, provide the latest updates from the Canadian government regarding travel guidelines, share which countries have reopened to Canadians, and advertise the most recent supplier promotions. You can also share the latest travel trends you have noticed and use the opportunity to highlight your expertise in each of these areas. 

PHONE CALLS: Several of our agents have been seeing great success by going ‘old school’ and picking up the phone. They set a target number of clients they would like to connect with for the day or week and then start dialling. Having a chat with your client and checking in on what is going on in their world is a great way to re-connect and dispel any concerns they may have with a quick conversation. It provides a great personal reminder about why they chose to book with you and not an OTA. You can reminisce about past trips you have sent them on, laugh about the stories they told you when their kids finally got to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and commiserate with how quickly they are growing up. No one knows your clients like you do and in a climate like this, they want to book with someone they trust, someone they KNOW.  

While excited at the prospect of travelling again, Canadians are wondering what it will look like the next time they do. Travel will look very different to what clients remember and as the experts you need to be prepared to advise and guide them accordingly. Canadians are booking now and with limited flights and hotel inventory, those who wait may be faced with limited options and increased prices. With travel in a state of flux, the importance of a knowledgeable expert to help one navigate it has never been more vital and never more in demand. 

With this in mind Independent By Flight Centre is ensuring our agents have access to the latest updates with a dedicated COVID-19 page on our Workplace platform. There they can find the latest supplier updates, testing requirements, government updates and more ensuring quick reliable access to information our Independent Contractors can share with their clients. We have also partnered with SHERPA to provide them with a website to share with their clients that contains the most up to date information on entry and transit requirements.

If you haven’t connected with your clients, don’t delay any longer. YOU are their trusted travel advisor and even if they aren’t ready to book now, educating them on the current state of the industry and what to expect in the coming months will help ensure that when they are ready to book that trip, you will be their first call. 

Heather Baker