Proud to be Yourself

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone make one of the following statements I’d be rich: if only I could be more like her/him; be more assertive; charge a fee for my services; tell clients upfront not to waste my time; or…

Every time a travel agent comes to me for advice, I tell them – be yourself, everyone else is already taken. DO, SAY and TREAT your clients the way you want to be treated. Don’t try to imitate anyone else. If you do, you will not be YOU. Learn from any mistakes you make, and try to correct them the best way you can – not by being someone else, but by being you.

I always tell travel agents not to multitask when talking to a client or prospective ones; be 100% present and listen. Ask the important questions: where, when, how many people and the budget.

How does your client (or prospective one) sound? Are they: very assertive with their answers, flaky and not so sure, so automatic it sounds like they have said this over and over or are they multitasking and not 100% there? The answers to these questions provide you with big clues about who is seriously booking, who is shopping around, and who is just browsing and wasting your time.

With flaky people I usually use my sarcastic sense of humor (that is who I am!) and tell them to call me back when they are ready to book, and have done all of the “homework” (answering my questions).

For clients who speak like an automated computer, I ask them to send me what they perceive to be a good itinerary. About 90% of the time, they will forward me another travel agent’s itinerary. Then I ask if they are looking for a better price or service. Now we know who we are dealing with.

For the multi-tasking people, I ask when would be a better time to talk so we can both be totally present with no distractions during this important conversation.

Most of the time, when you are working with the assertive and ready to book ones, after listening carefully you’ll be able to give them a quote.Present the quote the same day if you can, and if it will take a few days to prepare, keep them posted and in the loop.

Sometimes you’re wrong, and the ones you thought were so ready to book will never respond, even after you have followed up a few times. If you are taking it personally, remember that we are

humans after all – and I have felt that feeling many times. And consider how childish and scared this person is behaving. Instead of saying something like: “Sorry, I am not interested now,” or, “Something came up, but I will get back to you in the future,” this person would rather burn all bridges with you, and not respond at all. Shame on them. You have now learned all you need to know about that person – not to work with him/her for free again, or not to work with them again at all. But you shouldn’t change yourself. After all, there are a lot of people very eager to have a travel agent just like YOU!


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