A successful career in the travel planning industry is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Whether it’s the satisfaction of helping people plan their perfect holiday or the joy of uncovering a knockout deal, it’s no surprise that the industry is highly competitive.
But for agents with a customer-centric attitude and a dedication to providing exceptional service with a point of difference, attracting and retaining customers is never a problem.
Here are our top 5 tips to become a travel agent that your customers just love:
1. Get to know your customers
The first rule of any customer service role is to understand the needs of the individual you are helping. As a travel planner, this is especially important because if established properly, the relationships you build with your customers can last a lifetime.
Getting to know your customers starts with asking the right questions, and lots of them. Treat your first meeting like a first date! What’s their dream destination? Do they have any favourite hobbies? Are they the outdoorsy type or prefer museum hopping? This might sound obvious but you’d be amazed at the number of agents who skip the getting to know you stage in their haste to make a booking.
Take note of why your customers are travelling. Is it a honeymoon? Record the occasion in your diary and send a Happy Anniversary note each year to let them know you’re thinking of them. It doesn’t take much effort to make a big impression but the payoff will be exceptional and who knows, you may even make some friends for life.
2. Make yourself available
Getting to know your customers is important but being available to them when they need it is equally essential to a successful travel agent.
This means being mobile and flexible. If a customer is trying to reach you because there has been an itinerary emergency in a different timezone, they’re not going to be happy if it takes you 14 hours to reply. The issue will have already escalated and it’s unlikely that this customer will book through you again.
That’s why Travel Counsellor agents all work from home. By empowering you with the flexibility to work around a schedule that suits you, you’re better able to be there for your customers when they need you. So, whether you’re currently working in a travel role or are a previous travel expert looking to get back into the industry, we can help you stay available by facilitating:
Staying mobile - sometimes you may have to be flexible on where you meet. Some customers might prefer a coffee shop over speaking on the phone so it’s important to work around their needs
Having multiple lines of communication - only supplying your customers with an email address or landline won’t cut it. By having as many contact options as possible, no customer will slip through the cracks when they’re trying to reach you
Responding quickly - even if you don’t have the answer to something straight away, it’s important to acknowledge communication as swiftly as possible, let your customer know that you have heard their request and are doing everything you can to help them
Keeping in touch with your customer - sending a follow-up message while the customer is away can help spot and iron out any potential flaws before they arise
Staying agile - Unforeseen circumstances can occur 24/7, so you have to be prepared to make changes on the fly if you want to protect your customers and the relationship you’ve worked hard on building with them
3. Give customers easy access to their travel itinerary
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find flight and hotel booking information when you’re travelling and it either being invisible or laid out in a format that’s confusing and unpalatable.
There’s also a growing expectation of many modern customers that their trips have an element of ‘hyper-personalisation’ to them. This refers to the level of authenticity and uniqueness of a holiday that for a travel planner, can take a lot of preparation and travel information to organise.
This is why at Travel Counsellors we’ve created the myTC app. Not only does it improve a customer’s experience because they have access to their itinerary at all times, but it’s a great customer conversion tool for you as an agent. Many customers use the app to show their family and friends and these prospective customers have been so impressed by myTC that it’s increased our customer conversion rates by 25%.
4. Keep prices competitive
With the proliferation of online booking services, the pricing landscape has become more competitive than ever, and customers know it.
This means that finding the best value for your customers’ hard earned dollars is imperative for retaining their business. This isn’t a license to provide a budget service with your bargain prices. What sets a travel expert apart from a widget on the internet is their ability to understand and work with the customer to create a personalised itinerary that takes into account their unique traits and requirements.
Creating and maintaining a relationship of trust, where a budget is strictly laid out and adhered to, will provide your customer with the best possible travel experience and value for money.
Who wouldn’t be coming back for more?
All travellers want their booking to be financially protected but when it comes to choosing the best insurance for the needs of their trip, many of them just don’t know where to start. The beauty of Travel Counsellors is that all our bookings are financially protected with insurance so that in the event of a supplier collapse or airline failure, your customers can have peace of mind knowing that their money is protected.
In fact, the cover we provide our customers is unrivalled in the industry. Our Travel Counsellors Financial Protection will hold the customer’s money in reserve, only releasing it to the supplier once the customer has travelled. It’s a level of service that our customers just love.
When it comes to building long term relationships that create customers for life, a little can go a long way. By showing your customers that you care from the first meeting until long after they’ve returned home armed with the beautiful memories you’ve helped them create, you’ll find yourself head and shoulders above your competition and never short of business.
A Travel Counsellor agent is with their customer every step of the way, just like we are there for our agents every step of the way.
For more information on how you can start a rewarding and successful career as a Travel Counsellor agent, contact our friendly team today.