One thing that REALLY sets us apart from the internet is our ability to get to know our clients on a personal level. Google may be able to find out and remember whether they want an aisle seat or a window seat. And maybe even figure out which style of hotel or tour they’d enjoy. But there are some things about people that can’t be discovered just based on their search history and trips they’ve already taken. And that’s something we can do MUCH better than Google.
It can be hard, though, to get out of travel agent mode and start asking questions about the travelers themselves – what they like and dislike beyond hotel type and airline seat preference.
I recently ready a piece by Richard Turen (http://www.travelweekly.com/Richard-Turen/The-wise-business-of-gratitude) where he mentioned an agency that requires their agents to choose a special book for each vacation under deposit. The agent has to submit the book and their reason for choosing it to their manager.
What I love most about this isn’t the gift of a book, but the fact that it puts you in the mindset of NEEDING to get to know your clients on a more personal level from the very first conversation. As an agent, if you know that part of your job is to select a very personal book for your clients at the end of the booking process, you’re going to be looking for and making note of clues from the first phone call. You’ll ask more personal questions and listen for hints about what they do in their free time, and what they value most.
Yes, this will help you choose a better client gift (which doesn’t necessarily have to be a book.) But more importantly, it will help you build a more personalized vacation. Maybe you’ll discover that one of the travelers is really into woodworking. You can schedule an afternoon with a master craftsman into their Italian vacation. This is much better than offering a standard winery tour or cooking class.
Challenge yourself. Make a rule RIGHT NOW that you must, for every client, choose a special book for them. If you come up with a different gift idea that you like better, that’s fine, but you have to at least start with a book. Let me know if this changes the way you listen to and interact with your clients.