Qualifying a travel client is a way of determining whether the person who reached out about your service is either worthy or not of your time and effort to convert him into your customer. Identifying customers as potential prospects just because they inquired will only unnecessarily consume your time. In the travel business, it will be too early to decide whether an opportunity is genuine or not if you have limited information. So, as a travel agent, you should be utilizing your time and resources wisely; planning, researching, and following through are the primary responsibilities of a travel agent to get the new clients and adequately manage the existing ones.
So, here we have come up with a list of travel agent tips to qualify travel clients that you can put in practice if you are engaged in the travel business.
1. Learn to ask the right questions
First of all, to qualify a client, you need to understand what the client is in search of. In most cases, when a potential client visits the office or makes a call to inquire about the services, most travel agencies end up offering the travel products without even consulting the client first. Trying to sell your products to the client before asking enough questions is a wrong move and could demolish the possibility of earning a new client. You could get to know the client better with issues like:
a. The purpose of the trip and what are your clients looking for, in particular, to see or do there?
b. The client's research, how they prefer traveling, and the favorite trips they had in the past, and the reason for those trips standing out on the top among others?
c. The must-do element of their planned trip, and if they are open, maybe the reason behind it?
d. Ask your client about their hobbies, interests, traveling companions, and whether they have a passion for thrilling adventurous sports?
e. Client's dream vacation if the budget wasn't an issue?
These questions may not meet all the requirements to make the client a potential customer but, these are certainly queries to know more about the client and make a first good impression to show that you are giving your 100% to make their trip a smooth adventure.
2. Listen carefully
Although you prepared a right list of questions to ask a potential client, just asking him those questions is not going to be enough. You will also have to listen to the response made by the client giving your 100% attention. Furthermore, making eye contact and focusing on the answer would be more effective than paying the half-attention to the client and gluing your eyes on the computer. It makes the client feel like you don't care about his/her dream trip even if the question you are asking them is very accurate. So, listen to the client properly, and also if you have to research the topic, ask permission with him/her saying, "Let me check that right away, ok sir/madam?", it will be a polite gesture and the clients will appreciate your efforts. Listening carefully to the client, asking questions, and frequently checking to make sure both client and you are on the same page will help you deliver the best product according to the client's wishes.
Further, don't forget to pick up the names the client mentions, whether it is the customer's family members, friends or partner if he/she is planning a trip with them make sure to give back the name the client comments. It will show that you are really paying attention and that you are equally invested in the dream trip of the client as much as himself.
3. Practice survey forms
It is one of the most effective ways to understand the needs of clients and filter whether he/she is a potential customer or not from the very beginning. If the client is looking for the services that you do not provide, you could notify them without wasting too much of your time or effort. The survey form gives you an overall view of the client's desired trip. As well, what kind of services are they expecting? This way, it will be easy for you to follow up with the client giving you enough time to prepare yourself with the knowledge of the classes of services and attraction of their preferred region. It is one of the most productive ways of dealing with potential clients in the travel business.
After going over all the logistical aspects of the client, you could proceed to the next stage of the registration process. However, the survey forms will have to be able to cover overall all the queries on different subject matters. It may be: The number of people, the duration, the general budget plan, the occasion of the travel, and so on to truly understand what the customers are looking for.
4. Schedule a call-back
After eliminating the non-opportunities from the survey forms, this is the second step to be followed to move a step closer with the client in the registration process to seal the deal. You need to be careful identifying the potential as soon as possible and eliminate the non-potential without any mishaps. The quicker you respond to the opportunities, the more promptly you can convert them into your customers, the biggest mistake you can make in this process is ending up continuously working the leads that will probably never turn into your customer. The top names in the travel business have the custom of immediately eliminating the clients rather than pursuing them to change their prospects and regularly scheduling call-backs.
It is also quite a lengthy process where you will have to go back and forth approaching the client to schedule an appointment; therefore, if you can't properly eliminate the non-opportunities, it is the waste a lot of time and resources. You can also take the aid of several scheduling applications and software out there that will give the potential customer privilege of setting the consultation schedule themselves, and you will receive the notification and schedule a call-back or meeting accordingly.
5. Assess either you are a good fit for the client or not
It may be quite scary to turn away the clients when you are new in the business. However, it would help if you had a favored niche to help you manage your time and develop your expertise. If you handle booking adventure sports activities or honeymoon trips but, if you receive clients for safari and family trips, it will be in your best interest to not get involved too deeply as it isn't your field of expertise. Although losing a client isn't good for business, but, if your agency doesn't cover the client's preferred trip then giving it more time will be just a waste of your effort.
However, you could use this opportunity to expand your business or shift to the one which has the most demand according to your location. A client's approach will never go to waste; you could use the information provided and the type of trip they were looking for as a future reference to shape your business. Besides that, don't assume the client's budget, but be mindful of how much they want to spend on the trip and if it meets the expense of the travel itineraries you book.
6. Keep yourself updated
It is essential in the travel business to keep yourself updated with the new kinds of services and offers that other competitors are providing according to seasons or festivals. So as an agent, you will have to keep yourself up-to-date with travel industry news, latest resorts, the trends in the industry, special offers, etc. There are several ways of keeping up with the ongoing information in the industry, like frequently reading the trade publications, subscribing to travel-related electronic newsletters, online educational courses, and other research methods.
The client who is looking for a dream trip won't just show up at your office without any online research. In most cases, the customers already have some pre-planned setup on their mind and level of expectation from you to determine whether you are an ideal choice or not. So, if your preparation is half-assed then there is a probability of the customer losing confidence in your service, as an agent, your level of knowledge should easily top the level of preparation made by the clients. Therefore, to set a good impression among the clients from the first meeting, there are no other shortcuts than keeping yourself updated with as much information as you can about the travel news and mainly focusing on the trend and ongoing hot deals.
7. Analyze how your lead found you
It may not come as the most crucial part while qualifying a travel client, but it is more significant than what you have presumed. The more credible the sources of your leads are, the more chance of them turning them into your customer. Compared to points you get from the Facebook, Instagram post where clients are just following up on your offers, the leads that have contacted you through the referral of the old clients or friends have a high probability of being your potential customers.
Most of them, who had contacted you through your old clients or friends, are already determined to pick your agency as they have heard about your services from reliable sources and want a taste of it. Just follow the proper dealing procedure, and they will readily purchase the deal. However, keep the follow up in the social platforms accurately as most people are just trying to compare the services with other agencies, so don't waste too many resources and time on such clients. But, it doesn't mean you should totally ignore such clients and approach tactfully to set an impression and turn them into customers.
Furthermore, setting a website of your own will adequately represent all kinds of services that you provide and your field of expertise. Thus, the inquiries and probable customers you receive from the site will undoubtedly be of high potential.
8. Identifying up-selling opportunities
Up-selling is a process of identifying opportunities where clients spend more than what they had intended to. Don't wholly offer an entirely different package to the client than what they are looking for, just look for the loopholes where you can provide a superior service package within a short-range price difference than the programs the clients were expecting to take.
It doesn't only open up opportunities for you to level up the services you provide, but also to increase the number of potential customers in your business. If you receive the clients who are looking for services cheaper than what you host, you could use the opportunity to introduce them to the quality services you have got, which they could enjoy with just a reasonable increment in cost. In the travel business, the more you upgrade the services of the clients, the more benefits you get from associated. Also, telling clients about the premium service they could have by just adding a small amount of budget to their plan will not fade out without any consideration. People plan fun trips planned in certain time-interval, so the clients wouldn't mind upgrading to premium services and blow some extra cash to make the journey luxurious and pleasant. Although it may seem like the clients are not looking for some premium vacation, at least mention the packages they could have with just funding it a little more. And, in the end, they can't hold you accountable for the high-caliber services they witness in the trip they could have within a reasonable price gap.
9. Brief your consultation charge
If you have a tradition of charging consultation, planning, and booking fees, you will have to brief that with the client on the first contact you make. The clients need to understand their package expenses and consultation charge you take before they book the service. The lack of communication in such matters might not have a good consequence with the possibility of losing customers and having a bad reputation among the new potential clients. You can communicate on this matter with clients by directly conversing with them or handing them prospects or directing them at sites where your consultation charges are clearly stated. They need to clearly understand the terms and conditions before making any kind of agreement with you.
So, it would be better if you update such details on your websites and package deals where the clients can grasp the cost modeling concept; they need to understand how many trip option you are willing to research for them/price points, the fee agreements they have to sign and how much they need to pay to retain your planning services. This will help you easily exclude the parties who aren't ok with your agency's price modeling, saving you from making extra efforts.