Quite often businesses find themselves struggling with the large dilemma of figuring out how to get a customer to actually buy their products or services. How useful, convenient, cheap (or, maybe even, expensive) does an offer have to be for the customer to be sold? Independent travel agents, just like many other contractors and business owners, are always asking the question- how will it sell? Or, better yet- what will sell? The following guide, simplified by four categories of reading, experiencing, educating, and understanding, will help travel agents to better analyze their consumers and sell them what they want, rather than what the travel agents want them to buy.
Entering the travel industry as an ignorant and uninformed agent will most likely lead one to a wall of stagnation. Just like a doctor who has never read a medical journal cannot correctly treat patients, an independent travel agent who has never researched travel destinations cannot successfully sell one to a client. Reading and learning about the travel industry is critical achieving powerful credibility, expertise, and confidence. A customer never wants to be met with the confused aura of “Uh, I don’t know about that” when inquiring about their potential vacation.
Some travel agents may classify themselves as more of kinesthetic learners, and may, thus, find it to be quite tedious to only read about the destinations they sell. Such travel agents are the perfect candidates for FAM trips. FAM, or familiarization trips are discounted or free trips focused on acquainting travel travel agents with specific locations by exploring the areas’ hotels, activities, cuisine, and culture. These trips provide an absolutely invaluable amount of knowledge, as agents not only get to learn about a certain beach, restaurant, or tour, but also experience it firsthand. Most importantly, these trips bear almost no significant costs to travel agents and can be booked through their host travel agencies.
Soaking up travel industry information is crucial, but it reveals to be of little use if not applied to the selling process. How would a client know about the latest exquisite resort in Maui if a travel agent does not tell them about it? Customers, just like agents, must stay informed, specifically during their buying journey. When a client contacts an agent, it is critical for the agent to notify the customer of the year’s most exciting destinations as well as of recent exclusive deals. This may give the customer a better idea of what exactly they are looking for, as well as make the agent appear well-read and in the loop. Educating the customer can also be done in a less direct way; for example, an agent could create an Instagram account dedicated to posts about savvy travel deals and new hotel openings.
Understanding your customer is, perhaps, the most important element of this guide. Knowing who your customer is will allow for the previous three elements to work together beautifully and effectively. After all, there are few clients who want to listen to agents ramble about every single destination they know of. Therefore, agents must study their clients’ interests and backgrounds in order to segment their own knowledge and provide the appropriate chunk. For example, if an agent is working with a young, adventurous client who has a low travel budget, they may want to avoid clouding their offers with relaxing, luxurious hotels, and, instead, focus on providing a more bold, but affordable travel plan.