Making Every Call Count

Dear TA’s,

First let me explain that I use the letters TA instead of saying Travel Agents or Travel Advisors. When I started in this business, life was a little less complicated and we were all Travel Agents. Since ASTA has changed the title they use to Travel Advisors, I want to be politically correct and not offend anyone, so using the letters TA (in our industry) makes my life a little easier.

Now that I have explained myself and that we are all hopefully in agreement on that; let me ask you what your perfect kind of client or prospective one is, and if you always get that kind?

For all the years that I have dealt with clients and travel agents in my business as a Tour Operator, I always enjoyed a challenge. I believe that my best clients were the “difficult” ones, the ones that I had already pre-categorized as: “cheap-o,” “controlling,” “dramatic,” “multi-tasker,” or “dreamer.”

I had a formula that I used to deal with each of these category types, and I was very successful.

Let me share with you:

  • “Cheap-o” were the clients who wanted me to match prices from another vendor or the internet. I spoke to them in a voice that indicated that I was in a hurry (to get rid of him/her), explained very briefly why the other product (vendor or internet) was not reliable, or would bring them a big headache in the end. Then in a softer voice, I would ask for their name again, and tell them that I had another client to take care of. If they were still interested, I gave them two options of specific times to talk to me (a few days later). Ninety percent of the time, they called back and bought.
  • “Controllers” – are people who want to tell you how and what to do. Usually they take too much of your time because they ask you to explain every step of what you are doing. Most of the time you end up exhausted, and sometimes doubting your experience. Remind them that you are the expert and that is why they are dealing with you. Tell them when you can talk to them, on your schedule. Set limits to the hours they can contact you, and the method at which you prefer to be contacted. Use a strong voice and be short.
  • “Dramatic” clients are the ones who become your friend and want to vent and tell you all his/her life stories. Then, they need extra time to pay because of something that happens to them. Suddenly you find yourself too involved in their personal life. When you see that this kind of client is coming, the best way to avoid them is to get busy with other clients waiting on the line. You can definitely use a soft voice as if you would love to hear all their stories and show empathy, but unfortunately you are so busy because you are so good!
  • The “Multi-tasker” is easy to spot! You can hear pots and pans banging in the background or they call while shopping or with their kids.  There are often many things going on all at the same time. This is the client that will not remember a thing about your conversation. I used to ask that all information be exchanged by emails. Even though these clients promised me that they were the best multi-tasker, I would say that I was sensitive to noise, and to give them the best service and pricing I could only do it by emails.
  • “Dreamers” – I’ve worked with two kinds – the beer budget with champagne taste, and the ones who were in another dreamland while talking to me. The first kind I treat like the “Cheap-o” and the second kind like the “Multi-tasker.”

If you have had other categories of clients and want to share, please feel free to! Psychology goes a long way with people. Don’t get upset with them, get even! LOL!

Always cheering for you!

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