As a travel agent, repeat business is one of the most important ways to expand your agency. Clients who are "wowed" the first time will be delighted to come back and plan with you again to have a similarly fantastic experience every time they travel. This is especially true if you make returning to you seem as natural as going back to a favorite restaurant or asking a good friend for travel advice.
Make it easy, make it smooth, and most of all make sure your clients have a wonderfully personalized time. When you want to win more repeat business for your travel agency, following these ten tips will help you build the strong relationship you need to bring those travelers back to you again and again.
1) Think "Every Trip" When Planning the First Trip
When a client comes to you instead of planning their own trip, they're looking for something special. They could book tickets and rooms for themselves but they came to you for a concierge, worry-free experience with all the bells and whistles taken care of before they arrive. And you want to provide that to them not just once, but every time they travel.
So start by thinking in your own mind "This is the first trip of many I'm planning for this client. I need to know everything about how they travel to make every trip amazing". Think that way, and talk that way. Subtly introduce the idea that you are now their personal travel concierge for any experience they may be looking for, now and in the future.
2. Ask the Right Questions and Listen Actively
Next, it's all about the questions you ask and learning their answers by heart. In order to provide a truly superb and personalized travel experience, you need to know all of your client's personal travel preferences, desires, and expectations. Many clients don't know all the right questions to ask, but you do. And when they tell you, actively listen. Take notes, meet their eye, and care deeply.
- Travel Preferences
Learn your client's travel preferences. Ask if they prefer a window seat or aisle seat, what they like best in a hotel room, and whether they expect each hotel to have room service, a pool, a gym, etc. Ask what kind of car they like to rent or if they'd rather you booked drivers. The whole nine yards.
- Travel Wishlist
Beyond basic preferences, ask what their dream travel experience might look like. What would make a room or hotel truly luxurious to them? What would they do with all the time or money in the world? Get their wishlist of travel experiences, down to the small details, just in case you can make a few of those dreams into reality along the way.
- Future Travel Plans
Don't forget to ask about their future travel plans casually in the mix. Ask if they vacation with family and, if so, what they like about those vacations and what they would change. Ask if they travel for business, or if they have other future travel plans. Assume you will be handling these and act like you're ready to have them covered. Because you do.
3. Plan Custom, Personalized Travel
Once the initial interview is complete, dive into crafting a truly personalized travel plan for your client and any companions. From the moment they step out their front door, you are the invisible hand that guides them through the perfect travel experience, as described in your interview. Pick them up from home and get them to the airport in plenty of time for security, breakfast, and maybe a little shopping. Seat them in exactly the right spot on the plane. Convey them from the next airport to a hotel that perfectly fits their budget and description of an ideal hotel environment. The right room location, the right beds, the right amenities.
Every additional detail of the trip, make it right. Make it personal. Make it better than they could have planned for themselves.
4. Exceed Expectations With Special Touches
Beyond straight logistics, go out of your way to wow clients with personal touches. Go the extra mile to, for example, have strawberries left chilled in their hotel room when they arrive. Or the exact make, model, and color of rental car waiting for them at the airport. If they have children, win them with gifts like coloring books and snacks for that first night in the hotel.
If they mention they love the mountains, get them a mountain view. And if there's a wishlist item you can throw in like a jacuzzi tub in the hotel room or a voucher for a hotel spa massage, that's the client-winning cherry on top.
5. Keep in Touch During the Trip
All throughout the trip, stay in touch. Not intrusively, but available at any point to step in and assist. Send a friendly text message or have an email waiting for them to check on their time asking if the flight was alright and if they made it to the hotel safely. After all, part of your job is to make emergency arrangements in case something falls through along the way. Be ready to rent a backup car or rebuild their travel schedule just in case of flight delays and other common travel setbacks.
Little non-urgent messages at key points will let the client know that you are ready to be their safety net. But be careful to be quick and business-like instead of chatty so clients can focus all of their joy on the trip itself that you have planned so beautifully. And if a client mentions something isn't quite the way they wanted, you be the person who calls the hotel to make it right so that the problem "fixes itself" from their perspective.
Remember to touch base when a client is on their way home, as well, to ensure they get home safely.