How Travel Agents Can Qualify Their Clients Better Than Ever
Written by: Amanda Bailey on December 17, 2015
Qualifying a client is one of the most important travel agent skills. Effective qualification goes beyond simply asking, “Where do you want to go?” Some travelers already have an idea in mind, others start off without a clear preference.
Either way, customers turn to a travel agent for more than just a quick transaction or automated answers from a search engine. They want professional advice, personal service, and helpful suggestions. To really get a grasp on what each client is looking for, active listening is key.
Use these 5 elements of active listening in your qualifying process, and you’ll easily be able to determine each client’s unique needs!
1. Pay attention to the details. Hearing and recording what your client tells you is a good start, but take note of other less obvious clues. Is your first interaction with them over the phone, in person, or via email? This is most likely their preferred method of communication. Do they seem stressed out or distracted? Be patient with them, and don’t try to push a sale too aggressively.
2. Show you are listening. It’s relatively easy for someone to tell whether they have your full attention, or whether your mind is wandering. If you are meeting with a client face-to-face, make sure there isn’t a computer screen dividing you from your clients, and resist the urge to check your text messages or emails on your phone. Even during phone conversations, turn or walk away from your computer screen and other distractions.
3. Provide meaningful feedback. Don’t immediately offer recommendations based on the first few pieces of information a client offers. Ask thoughtful follow-up questions that compel them to dig a little deeper into what they are looking for. If they need to think about it for a second, let them think – don’t try to fill the gap of silence by answering for them.
4. Defer judgement. Your clients value your expertise, but your opinions and assumptions should not eclipse your client’s wants and needs. If they come to you asking to book a specific resort that you wouldn’t recommend, don’t shut them down immediately. Use it as an opportunity to gather more information by asking them what they like about it, or why it’s on the top of their list.
5. Acknowledge. Providing recommendations should only be done after you’ve gathered as much information as possible. When suggesting a destination or resort, relate it back to the specific details the client has given you. It’s a subtle way of acknowledging their requests and preferences. For instance, perhaps they mentioned that their kids were bored during their last vacation. Point out that the cruise ship you’re recommending has an entire indoor entertainment complex with a skating rink, bumper cars, and tons of activities designed just for the younger crowd.
Clients often come to you during the dream phase of their vacation planning. They are inspired to travel, so it’s important not to burst that happy bubble in the qualifying process. Through active listening, you’ll be able to hone in on exactly what your client wants, and keep the positive energy flowing throughout the entire booking process!
Over the past 12 years, KHM Travel Group has been the platform through which thousands of travel agents have launched their businesses. If you’d like to get more info about working from home as a travel agent, fill out the form on the right side of the screen or call 1-888-611-1220 to request our free information packet.