Contributed By: The Travel Institute
If there is one thing 2020 has taught us, it is that being grateful and forging strong personal ties are vital to our happiness. The same goes for success in our professional lives. And this is especially true for travel advisors. You have collectively and individually proven this through your advocacy and service on your customers’ behalf in securing rebookings, obtaining refunds, rescuing stranded clients, and so much more. From The Travel Institute’s Team, we are grateful to you, and we want to thank every single one of you for your commitment and perseverance during these trying times.
During this month, we challenge you to take the extra step and show your clients, friends, and colleagues alike just how grateful you are to them. For some ideas, we dove into The Travel Institute’s Certificate Travel Associate (CTA) courses on Understanding Customer Needs and Customer Service. We also asked our amazing certified graduates for their timely ideas, and, as usual, they were happy to share.
Here are some of our timely suggestions:
- Provide friendly and personalized service. Customers want to be treated fairly, intelligently, and individually—in other words, with respect. To do this, use the clients’ names whenever possible. Answer the phone with a friendly greeting, an identification of yourself and your company, and an offer to help the caller. Listen to your clients’ words, tone of voice, and feelings, and then demonstrate concern for their needs by tailoring your advice and recommendations.
- Be prompt and efficient. No one likes to be kept waiting for an unreasonable amount of time, and, with today’s technology, no one should be. You can send messages, texts, and emails instantly, rather than playing phone tag. On the other hand, take the time you need with each customer to deliver reliable service. Clients don’t mind the wait if they know things will be done right the first time, promises will be kept, and material will be delivered on time.
- Be knowledgeable. Clients today expect to deal with knowledgeable travel counselors. They are coming to you for your product knowledge, your experience, and very importantly your expertise in world travel regulations, which change daily. You must take responsibility to find answers you don’t have. Never say, “I don’t know” without adding “But I’ll find out.”
- Remain flexible. Keep in mind that clients don’t want to be told no. They want you to make the system work for them. Ordinarily, this is not too much to ask. However, in today’s world, it can get a little tricky. As long as a request is not unreasonable, you should try your best to be able to come up with ways to make it happen.
- Solve their problems. Everyone is on edge. If a mistake has been made, apologize and take responsibility. Everyone makes mistakes. How you correct them can set you above everyone else. And, contrary to what you may think, owning up to a mistake will not drive the clients away. It actually will bring them closer.
- Be empathetic. Now more than ever, customers want to be treated as individuals. Ask questions and listen for the feelings behind the responses. If you can make them happy, you will establish an emotional connection that builds loyalty and trust. The more you make an effort to get to know your clients, the more skilled you become at anticipating and meeting their needs for future trips.
YOU SAID IT!
Customer service and appreciation is vital not only for attracting customers but also for keeping them. You demonstrated your outstanding acts of gratitude and appreciation by responding to our recent survey that asked the question:
“How do YOU show appreciation for your clients?”
Here are a few more of those inspiring ideas:
Heather Travis, CTA of Globe Getaways in Lakewood, Colo. said, “I bring a box of chocolates to client meetings when we go over final documents. I used to try other fancy things, but now almost everyone gets chocolates from me! If it’s a cruise, I give chocolate-covered strawberries and bottled water!”
Jacquelyn Williams, CTA of Cruise Planners in Sandy Springs, Ga. said, “We love to surprise our clients with gifts in their room or with extra OBC, if it’s a cruise. For land trips, I like to upgrade their transfers from shared to private.”
Angeliec Birr, CTA of AAA Travel in Chicago said, “Always… Always write a handwritten thank you note.”
A collaborative industry effort created in 1964, The Travel Institute® has continuously evolved to maintain its role as the global leader in industry education and certification while staying true to its mission: dedicated solely to advancing the professionalism of both agents and industry leaders. A trusted partner to industry suppliers and educational institutions, The Travel Institute has educated hundreds of thousands of professionals through its programs. Throughout North America, many successful agents and high-profile leaders credit their success to coursework from The Travel Institute.