Have you ever walked into a clothing store and been greeted by a salesperson saying, “Good afternoon! How much will you be spending today?”
Has a car sales person ever started a conversation by asking what your budget is?
I’ll bet your answer is no. And that’s for a good reason. It’s so easy to get caught up in the price of a trip – the way so many clients are – that it can seem the prime and overriding concern.
Vacations are more about experiences and great memories. Even if the client starts the call, visit or email with “Our budget is $5,000,” let them know you’d like to understand a bit more about where they are coming from before you can make a suggestion.
Good conversation points – and yes, treat it as a conversation, not an interview – should include:
. “Tell me a bit about your last vacation” (this will be a good insight into their likes and dislikes, travel experiences and tastes)
. “What would your perfect day on vacation look like to you?” “What do you like to do during your leisure time at home?”
. “What are your must-haves? Nice-to-have? Not important at all?”
. “Is there anything special I should know about you – do you have any medical conditions I should know about that will help me research the perfect options for you?”
Once you have determined what will please your client, you can start talking about quality of product (let’s face it, there are multiple star level experiences just about anywhere in the world). For the super cost-conscious client, try deducting the airfare from their per person budget to let them know what they are left with for the land portion including, of course, accommodation and meals. That may be surprisingly low and encourage them to rethink the budget.
For those who seem to have a much more generous budget – one greater than your personal one would ever be – remember that they will be expecting you to provide wow moments that other travellers don’t get. Forget your own travel budgets and expectations and live the dream through them. Now that could be fun!
Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel, 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.