What’s the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to build your business?
Referrals, of course. A happy client is your best advertisement and worth his or her weight in gold. They may be unaware of it, but they are an important part of your marketing effort, and that’s why when you stand out, you are remembered.
Ours is a service industry and it’s the caring professional service which makes such a difference. It can be as easy as how you answer the phone or how quickly you return calls. (I am always astonished at how often I hear friends and acquaintances say, “But the travel agent never returned my call!” Yikes.)
What does your business card say about you? If you have a specialty but are pretty happy to take any business, think about getting two versions of your card, one generic and one with your specialty. That way, when you encounter someone who says they are planning a ski vacation, you can say: “That’s my area of expertise! Here’s my card!”
And yes you can make even an ITC package a stand-out vacation. If it’s a special occasion trip, make sure the hotel knows. Think about a welcome gift or bottle of wine in their room on arrival. Do they love seafood? Get a copy of the resort’s seafood restaurant menu – a lot of this info is online – and send it along to them before they travel.
And who says you can work on only one holiday at a time? Plant the seed for future vacations. If they have a big wedding anniversary or birthday coming up (that one’s easily researched as you have their date of birth on file), then why not suggest something to think about even a couple of years ahead of time? It’ll be something for them to look forward to and an “excuse” for you to stay in touch from time to time.
Give them examples of how you have helped clients out of a hole that occurred due to, say, a flight delay or cancellation. Let them know that you’ll be there for them.
And don’t be shy about touting your services and successes. A lot of independent advisors, I find, feel uncomfortable doing that and think it’s “bragging”. So maybe do it with testimonials on your website or quotes from a thank you email on Facebook.
And never, ever forget to ask for the business.
You deserve the business… and you’ll get it when you stand out!
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.