It is facile to say that the hardest part of maintaining a successful business is gaining clients. Unfortunately, it is only easy to think in this fashion. It is not, however, very effective. The hardest part about continuing the prosperity of a business consists of actually keeping the gained clients. As an independent travel agent, retaining clients is critical in order to continue a growing sales portfolio, and it can be done by first understanding the the nature of the agent-client relationship and then taking the right steps to upkeep it.
Your client is your friend, not your relative
The essence of the agent-client relationship is most like that of a friendship, but not a familial bond. This distinction is absolutely necessary in determining the actions necessary to maintain the relationship. Your new client is someone who bought a vacation package from you because you sold them an expensive destination for a savvy price. The relationship is mutually symbiotic- you gave your client an exclusive deal and they gave you your commission. A friendship is very similar in that it should normally be mutually symbiotic. As surfaced as it may seem, friendships are born and maintained from successful exchanges between two people. Friends exchange support, laughter, and secrets between each other; once those elements are no longer provided by both sides, the friendship is not pleasant for either person. Relatives, on the contrary, do not need to have ongoing exchanges between each other in order to remain relatives. After all, your rude cousin (no matter how rude he is) will always be your cousin.
How to maintain the client-agent “friendship”
Personal phone calls and mail
Many companies capitalize on the convenience of emailing, making personal phone calls and mail an outdated and rare occurrence for consumers. As an independent travel agent, you can use this scarcity to make such methods of communication your signature technique for customer retainment. For example, if last year you sold a customer a package to the Dominican Republic, and you just came along a deal for a vacation at a similar Caribbean resort, reach out to them personally; give them a quick call or mail them a thank you card thanking them for the business which they have done with you and mentioning the deal you came across that they might be interested in.
Promotional birthday emails
An effortless but personalized way of keeping customers in business with you is the organization of birthday emails. This method is extremely simple and can be done in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is to set up a spreadsheet with all of your customers’ birthdays and draft a birthday email which features a coupon (e.g. 10% off any booking made in the month following the customer’s birthday). The spreadsheet can then be linked to any email account, and the birthday emails will be sent out on the appropriate dates. Customers will feel noticed and engaged, and will most likely consider using the coupon to purchase from you as a way to celebrate their birthday.
In-office client events
If you are an independent agent who has been in the industry for a longer time and has acquired a significant amount of customers (at least 30), throwing a client event to thank your customers for their participation in your business is an excellent way to keep your customers engaged, as well as attract new ones. Events like this can either be done on your own or through an organization with which you are affiliated (e.g. your church, volunteer organization, etc.. This will further establish your brand image, increase your credibility, as well as draw new clients through the promotion of the event on social media.
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