Active Listening to Qualify a Client
Written by: Stephanie on November 22, 2021
Learning to effectively qualify a client is one of the most important skills a travel agent can hone. It goes beyond simply asking, “Where do you want to go?” and ventures into a series of questions to help you learn how to best serve clients while planning their vacations.
Clients (and potential clients) turn to a travel agent for more than just a quick transaction or automated search engine-type answer to their question. They want professional insight, personal service, and meaningful suggestions. Active listening is key to getting to know your clients and helping them navigate their vacation plans.
Use these 5 elements of active listening in your qualifying process, and you’ll 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 or distracted? Be patient with them, and don’t try to push a sale too aggressively. Your first interactions with your client will help you learn more about how they plan, receive information, and respond to feedback.
2. Show you are listening.
It’s relatively easy for someone to recognize whether they have your full attention or if your mind is wandering. If you are meeting with a client face-to-face, make sure there isn’t a computer screen between you, and resist the urge to check your text messages or emails on your phone. Your body language is as meaningful as your words. Even during phone conversations, turn 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. Let them think before they respond – don’t try to fill the gap of silence by answering on their behalf.
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 immediately respond in a negative manner. 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.
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 specific details the client has shared with you. It’s a subtle way of acknowledging their preferences and showing that you have been listening. For example, perhaps your clients 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 activities designed for the younger passengers.
Clients often come to you during the dream phase of their vacation planning. They are inspired to travel, so it’s important not to diminish that excitement in the qualifying process. Through active listening, you’ll be able to focus on exactly what your client wants and keep positive energy flowing throughout the entire booking process!
For additional assistance when discussing travel plans with your clients, a variety of Client Qualifying Questionnaires are available for KHM Travel Agents to download in the Agent Portal.
Over the past 16 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.