I recently wrote an open Letter to Travel Counsellors regarding their attitude, self-belief and how they must tackle the present crisis.
I thought I might outline a few guidelines to protect your present business and even grasp opportunities that will expand it.
Firstly if you are a travel consultant your main advantage is that you are contactable. Yes, that is one of your advantages. Many consultants might try to avoid the customer at times but this is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the digital agent. Contact is an opportunity so step forward and ask how you can help.
You should have built trust with your existing clients, if you haven’t then you need to. Trust is the glue that binds the customer to you.
There is actually a trust equation: (see https://trustedadvisor.com/why-trust-matters/understanding-trust/understanding-the-trust-equation)
I hope this is self-explanatory as it is the most important quality in any sale by an agent.
Credibility is your honesty, your credentials, your experience.
So what to do in the present crisis. In the words of Woody Allen “Showing up is 80% of life” in other words be there for your customer at their convenience. Listen to their problems. Keep in touch, promise to call back, give the customer a time and call back at that time. That’s showing reliability.
If there is a problem then empathise, explain the position and try to be constructive. Many customers will rebook for a later date, some will not be willing to. Remember these are customers that you should keep for life. There is no need to be confrontational, be nice, you are nice. If you’re not you shouldn’t be in hospitality.
Reliability is always do what you promise, if you can’t, admit you can’t, so contact your customer and tell them. Honesty builds trust.
Intimacy creates authenticity, show you are human, you have a dog, children, show your vulnerability but your expertise in your core competency.
Self Orientation is being selfless, putting the customer before yourself, even disadvantaging yourself for the sake of your customer.
All this builds a trusting relationship, one in which a customer will want to invest in just as much as yourself. Give something to your customer such as a kind gesture, a birthday card , a small gift and your customer will want to reciprocate. Give you a booking, a referral or just strengthen that bond you are building.
As this crisis takes its toll on business it actually strengthens the human bond between people, the humanity of people, though six feet apart, is the real story of this crisis.
People are looking for emotional connection, they want you to be there for them and that will only increase in the future. What about you? Well you will love it, you will be rewarded by being fulfilled yourself emotionally and also financially.
Enjoy yourself, the world of travel has been a great place to be in the past and will be great in the future. For now, build those trusting foundations with customers, a trust that will last forever.