THE E-MAGAZINE THAT FOCUSES ON THE REALITY OF SELLING TRAVEL
PLUS The O&M The EDGE The Frontline The BDM
What is it? How can you get it? What does it look like? How do you know when youâ€™ve reached it, passed it, lost it and how do you get back on point?
In this issue
THE BOOKING POINT™
EDITORIAL – The Booking Point
The Booking Point™ is the moment in time when all things come together between you and your client. You become one as you join forces to create the most memorable vacation, trip, journey or adventure for your client. To reach The Booking Point™ many things are in play ranging from your knowledge and sales skills to the client’s request, demand and acceptance of the information you have provided with clarity, commitment and confidence. Once their questions are satisfied and your questions are satisfied, you can move to the point of booking. Don’t forget, if you need help with anything you read in Selling Travel I am as close as your email or Skype button.
Best regards, Steve Crowhurst, CTM Publisher www.sellingtravel.net firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/sellingtravel Skype: smptraining1 T: 250‐752‐0106 CHECK FOR WEBINARS HERE
THE O&M – Training For Bookings FRONTLINE – Product Knowledge THE EDGE – Home Based Booking Points GETTING TO THE BOOKING POINT TBP 1: PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE TBP 2: PROSPECTING TBP 3: QUALIFYING TBP 4: MARKETING THE OFFER TBP 5: HANDLING OBJECTIONS TBP 6: CLOSING THE SALE TBP 7: FOLLOW UP
THE CUSTOMER’S BOOKING POINT STEVE GILLICK – Mastering The Destination Booking Point CORY ANDRICHUK – People Buy Know, Like & Trust… THE EXTREME BDM – What’s Your Point?
JOIN ST MAILING LIST Selling Travel is owned and published by Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. Protected by International Copyright Law. Selling Travel can be shared, forwarded, cut and pasted but not sold, resold or in anyway monetized. Using any images or content from Selling Travel must be sourced as follows: “Copyright SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com” SMP Training Co. 568 Country Club Drive, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada V9K 1G1 Note: Steve Crowhurst is not responsible for outcomes based on how you interpret or use the ideas in Selling Travel or on the Selling Travel Website.
As someone once said, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something” – and over my years in sales and selling travel this is a true statement. Some will argue that service comes first, not sales – but then you cannot service what you haven’t sold and in order to sell something you must reach The Booking Point™. As you will read, to reach The Booking Point™ you must actively build to a moment in time when both you and your client are on the same page and willing to go forward to another moment where money changes hands. The credit card is offered up and the transaction is on it’s way to being concluded. Generally this cannot be forced. Most times if the client has not reached their booking point, then they will back out of the sale, request a time‐out or advise they will check with their partner in life and ‘get back to you.’ In recent months I have heard from more than a few travel agents who are not managing to close sales. The complaint today as you know is that the customer is online, doing their thing, checking with many travel agents, picking their brains but not booking. The truth is that they are traveling, they are booking ‐ but not with you. Many customers are still planning and not going. Some are armchair travellers and that’s as far as they will go, too. Then there are the customers who are legitimate travellers and they will book when the time and the travel agent is right. That’s when The Booking Point™ is reached. Read on. Take it all in. Learn how you too can reach The Booking Point™ and reach it sooner. Let me know what you need! Creatively Yours!
Steve Crowhurst Author, Trainer, Columnist, Keynote Speaker, Publisher and world traveller.
The Booking Point™ is something I learned from a chap I call my sales mentor. His name was Ed Newman and Ed was able to engage with anyone at anytime and pretty much anywhere. He was well travelled, too. He never really sold as much as his clients bought into Ed’s knowledge and personality and his skill at not saying too much, so that the client had to ask questions. I witnessed how he reached The Booking Point™ and it can be applied to selling travel. Ed’s industry was insurance. Ed’s skills were one‐on‐one however they can still be used in the digital world and I have embedded some of Ed’s teachings in this issue. Ed has since passed away, but his lessons are always with me and that’s The Point.
No one likes to do it. I see it in their faces each time I mention the words. The words that make travel agent’s knees go wobbly would be ROLE PLAY. There are other words for this too, simulation exercises for instance. I like to call it practice and practice generally makes perfect. The question to you as the owner / manager is: How much practice do you put your team through each week? No matter how ‘veteran’ your team may be, there is always a need to practice each and every step and interaction that leads to The Booking Point™. Like you I have heard it said that, “Well I just wing it…” or, “I know it so well, it’s just natural to me…” and I can buy that too, however the facts remain, that with practice, even the best of best can do better. The new hires on your team naturally need all the training and role playing they can fit into any given day. If your team were training for a sport they would practice. If they were to appear in a play, they would practice. The same level of readiness through practice is found in the best‐of‐best sales people no matter what product or service they are selling. Your home based agents require the same level of practice if they are to represent your agency at the highest level of business. If you have someone on your team that is the best in selling, or has deep knowledge about a certain destination or supplier’s product – let them take on the training role and also manage the role playing.
The Booking Point™ How to practice getting to the point of sale.
Step 1: Identify what it is your agency is going to sell in 2013. What products & suppliers will you focus on? Which destinations are you going to promote?
Step 2: Identify the customer segment for each of your chosen products, destinations and travel style. Ask your team to research.
Step 3: Create selling situation scenarios based on actual past events where the sale was not closed and also what‐if situations, too.
Step 4: Role play the telling and the selling scenario. You be the judge and have each agent repeat and repeat until you are satisfied with their responses and in your mind they reached The Booking Point™.
Publishing later this year. Dream Merchants tells the story about what you do. It’s a reference, a business guide, a playbook, a book based on success and succeeding as a travel agent and explores what it takes to ‘make it’. Dream Merchants also reviews the success traits that have been inherent in travel agents for 170 years since the industry as we know it, started in the mid 1800s. Would you like to participate and tell your side of the story?
As you may know I prefer the real thing to fluff. That means street smarts and savvy been there, done it know‐how ‐ versus academic, never been there, never done it. So, if you would like to submit your street smart input as to what makes a travel agent successful please click to the link below and complete one of the two submission forms. One is for Travel Agents and one is for Suppliers – (a supplier in this case means: any person working for a company that services the travel trade / travel agent – tour company, hotel chain, printer, college, association, etc.) By submitting one of the two forms, you will be giving me permission to use your input all or in part and reference your quotes sourced back to you. The information you provide will not be shared with anyone other then the reader of promotional flyers for the book and when the book is published. Thank you in advance to those who do participate. Your input will be greatly appreciated both by me and those that read the book. Here’s where you click:
GETTING TO KNOW THE FRONTLINE BOOKING POINT If you’ve read the O&M page you will know that I am setting you up for role plays and practice sessions that could go on all day and through the weekend!! Okay just kidding about the weekend. Here’s the thing though, somewhere in your day‐to‐day you must find the time to review your last week’s sales activities and critique your performance. Generally the answer lies in your sales. Did you sell and close nine out of ten customers you met with? If not… you need practice. Some travel agents do not learn this important point until they are many years into their career so if you can grasp it now, at the start of your travel trade career then you will be ahead of the game. To know The Booking Point™ means to know yourself well enough that you can confidently engage most clients and sell the core products, services, suppliers and destinations that your agency is famous for. Practice will increase your sales and believe it or not, it will boost your confidence and when that happens you are willing to put your game face on. After a good day of selling you will feel like a million bucks. You will feel like a champion. Like you won gold.
Having a ‘good day at the agency’ means that you were on top form. That you were able to meet and greet the customer by phone, email and in person with a style all your own. Your words flowed over the phone, in that email and in person just as you practiced. You were articulate. You did not Um and Ah… you did not have to flip through brochures as your customer watched and waited. No… you were fully engaged. You knew what to do, say and how to present the knowledge you have banked in your memory. When you practice you become the sale. When you become the sale, your customer also becomes engaged and they too will join you as you both commit to making this one of the best vacation booking experiences they have ever been party to. You will reach The Booking Point™ together.
The only way to realize your true sales potential is to practise your words, present your knowledge, deliver your closing statements and answer a series of questions and objections to the satisfaction of your owner / manager. You can also put yourself through the paces and request that your manager challenge you and then coach you. Do this and you will be way ahead of the game ‐ you could become the top sales person in your agency. How about that as a target? If you are already #1 – then let’s have you move it up a few notches and have your Booking Point™ include a few more $100,000 cruises.
When you are home‐based you’ll need to be very much self‐managed when it comes to discovering The Booking Point™. For some of you, selling travel is your second job – during the workday you are doing your real job. For others you are fully committed to a full time career selling travel. It is up to you to fit in sales practice and reach The Booking Point™ more often. Understanding The Booking Point™ will give you a point of difference in the local marketplace. You will attract customers who seek your level of knowledge and your ability to articulate it. The fact remains that you will lose many sales if you do not follow the steps that reaching The Booking Point™ demands. One thing you must do is find a role play partner, someone in the business who is also wanting to close more sales each time, every time. In this way you can work together to coach each other and be very candid about each others progress. If at all possible you will want to set up a video camera to record your practice sessions and then you can review your interactions on screen and pick out the changes that need to be made. One of the most glaring challenges in reaching The Booking Point™ is how well you can talk about a country, destination or the supplier’s product.
I’m looking for real‐time challenges that stop you from being the best you can be. Be sure to include your email and website links. Thanks! If you attended my mini workshop at the recent TravXchange events then you would have heard the word, fascinate. You would also have heard me pushing you hard to become a story‐teller and based on your travels and experiences hold me in awe of what you have seen, what you have done, where you have travelled and as you tell me your stories, you should be able to fascinate me with it all. This takes practice. It takes role playing until you can get it right. The ability to hold my attention is one of the main ingredients to reaching The Booking Point™. The travel agent pro, will know when to stop talking of course! Some travel agents can get carried away with their chatter and blow the sale out the door. Focus is the keyword. If you have a desktop or laptop webcam then you are good to go to practice what you preach. Get your face on camera and start talking. Review and correct as you go. Remember that your route to The Booking Point™ is the point of difference you will train for. So why should someone book with you? Let’s start there. If you said “service” you have not offered a point of difference at all. Keep thinking.
GETTING TO THE BOOKING POINT REQUIRES THAT YOU KNOW YOUR CLOSING RATIO. WHAT ARE THE STATS? TRAVEL AGENCY CLOSING RATIOS ARE AROUND 10% ON A COLD ENQUIRY, 30% WHEN IT’S WARM AND HIGHER WHEN IT’S A WELL KNOWN CUSTOMER. YOUR CLOSING RATIO MIGHT BE AS HIGH AS 80% TO 90%... THE QUESTION IS, IS IT, AND HOW DO YOU KNOW? If you do not know your closing ratio now is the time to survey how well you and your team are doing. We can go very basic here. For every inquiry simply dot a piece of paper, count up the dots at the end of the day and then check against closed sales. The more sophisticated method would be using your CRM program where you type in each inquiry, complete with the customer’s name and needs and then check at the end of the week if that enquiry was converted to a sale. So dots on paper or printed reports from your GDS CRM program, or stand alone software such as ClientBase+ – somewhere in there is a system / method for you to use to track how well you are converting enquiries and closing the sale.
WHAT IS THE BOOKING POINT™? The Booking Point is that moment in time when you and your customer are in harmony with each other, when all questions are answered to everyone’s satisfaction and if we can invoke a little fluff, you both become one with the booking… which is generally followed by the sound of kaching. You just upped your closing ratio. Sounds like fun. However, getting to that point is not always as easy as it sounds. It can be a slog. An uphill battle. If I am honest with myself, I can recall perhaps one‐time when I was selling that I was truly in a different world. Everything went well. I sold a bundle. No‐one left the agency without buying. I was almost in a daze for the entire day. All “things” in my world seemed to align. I could not put a foot wrong. It was like an “out of agency (think body) selling experience”. I left the agency that day lightheaded and on a high. It was a sixth sense moment. Unless you have experienced it, it’s hard to grasp. The rest of my selling travel career has been the usual… listening, thinking step by step, bringing forth knowledge, using well trained skills at each step along the way, and using well known trial closing statements that always achieve a response from which you can then move to retreat, review or close. In this article we’ll explore how you get to The Booking Point™. Can’t help you with the transcendental model – it was a one off. You may have experienced it yourself and if you have, perhaps you can reverse engineer the event and share it with others in your agency. Yes I know, scary stuff & fluff – but it does happen. I receive emails from travel agents asking how they can close more sales. That both prospects and clients use them as a sounding board, pick their brains and never return to book. In my presentations I am asked the same question and listen to frustrated agents as they tell me they cannot seem to close much business, or cannot close a higher yielding sale. Luxury sales for instance, or groups. This level of selling just seems to escape them. Recently I was on a 12 city speaking tour and I asked the travel agent audience if anyone had taken a 3 to 5‐day professional sales training program for travel agents. Hands went up – however I know for a fact that such a program does not exist. There are and have been for many years 5‐day sales training programs – but not geared to travel agents. IBM being the most well known. Learning International, Dale Carnegie programs, Drake programs too – and mine. These courses are very expensive and start around $1,000 and go up from there. Not too many travel agents invest this kind of money into their sales career which of course answers the “can’t close” question / problem.
Here then, we take a hard look at how you can move to the point of closing the sale, what I now call THE BOOKING POINT™ ‐ and what you need to know in order to reach THE BOOKING POINT™ more easily and more often.
HOW CAN YOU GET IT? TBP 1: PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE
The travel industry tends to misunderstand the difference between sales training and product knowledge. Product knowledge is NOT sales training. Product knowledge is product knowledge and product knowledge is not restricted to knowing a little geography and your preferred supplier list. Let me help you understand what Product Knowledge actually consists of. You will also find in this issue a terrific article by Steve Gillick on this very subject and how Destination Mastery is one component of this first step in getting to THE BOOKING POINT™. If you are wanting to truly be a professional travel agent in mind, body and spirit you must take your level of product knowledge seriously. It is the foundation of everything you will do and achieve in your selling travel career. To disengage at this very first step in the process means you might as well go home. You will not achieve your career goals. Tough call I know – but we need more professionals in the industry not dabblers who can’t sell. Your Product Knowledge must include: Hands on travel experience to the countries most sold by your agency. A geography course. Completed destination specialty courses that support what your agency sells. Each preferred supplier’s brochure read thoroughly including the fine print and insurance coverage. Complete comprehension of your preferred travel insurance vendor’s products.
The knowledge & skill sets (niche, languages) of your colleagues. Total awareness of agency ads and promotions. Social media marketing. How to search and research online. Email etiquette and usage. Agency processes, office systems, telephone functions, filing, the operations manual. Your sales target and your day‐to‐day sales closed and ‘on‐the books’.
TBP 1: PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE continued… If you have accomplished that list then you are on your way to the next step. Many of you reading this will utter, job done, but with respect, I will challenge that you have not yet read each and every brochure that your preferred supplier has displayed on your brochure rack. I know it sounds like a waste of time, a useless exercise – but then, that’s why you scuffle around flipping pages in front of the client, or keep your client hanging on the phone as you try to find a page that might have the answer, but you’re not sure. So you keep flipping and then dump that brochure for another, telling your caller, the client, that you will get back to them. The travel agent who has read each and every brochure, knows exactly where the information is, they pick up the right brochure, check the index to reconfirm, and turn to that page. As they are doing this they are keeping the customer sitting opposite them or the caller engaged with small talk such as, “Oh you are going to love this tour, I discovered it just the other day and here it is…” turning the brochure towards the customer, with the correct page open. No need to read upside down, this travel agent already knows the basics of the page. That’s the difference and that’s why you read every supplier’s brochure that’s racked in your agency. Overkill to some – but not the pro’s and high selling / high revenue producing agents. If you are an agency owner / manager then your job is to make sure each and every member of staff upgrades their product knowledge in accordance with your sales goal and the core products and destinations you sell. Set the training schedule and get your team to go big. If you are independent – then you owe it to yourself to create your own training schedule. If you are new to the industry – start travelling now. get out and see the world on your own dollar. It will be money well invested. I had travelled around the world by the age of 19. When I joined Thomas Cook I did not need a brochure or a map… I could present from experience and I could see what I was talking about in my minds‐eye, having been there. The customer was glued to my every word. Then I needed to know the product. That’s when I read every brochure from cover to cover. Here’s the point: you only need to do this once as generally a supplier’s brochure does not change too much in design and layout. Prices change and hotel names change – but overall, the information remains the same. Read all brochures once – and again in 5 years.
TBP 2: PROSPECTING Prospecting is not an activity reserved only for agency owners and managers. It is everyone’s job to look for new business. It’s a skill. It can be studied. It can be learned and picked up along the way. Better you learn everything you need to know in one shot. I’m pointing you towards a professional sales training program once again. One tip is this: if you have no leads in the hopper you will be starving very soon. The old saying, “You eat what you kill” is harsh and for a different time, but it is true and especially if you and your family intend to live on the revenue you generate. Whether you are salaried or on 100% commission, your job is to look for new business and close it. Every time you wimp out and let a customer slip away is food off your table, the agency owner’s table and the table of everyone who works at the agency. So hear it now – your prospecting skills must be raised to the highest and most professional of levels – starting here: • You ask every leisure customer for referrals • You ask every corporate account for referrals • You ask your Facebook friends for referrals • You hand out your business card • You present cruise nights • You hold consumer nights, days, afternoons • You place your own ads • You build an email subscriber list • You send out newsletters • You mail brochures as soon as they arrive • You build small groups by asking: “Can you invite others to join you on this trip?” • You ask everyone if they have friends getting married or planning a honeymoon • You write a blog about your recent FAM • You send out your latest travel video • You upload your best travel images • You up‐sell…you cross sell OR, you could sit and wait, let the agency owner run around trying to get the phone to ring and the door to swing. But I know that’s not how you want to do it. You want to be proactive and help build the agency business. To get closer to THE BOOKING POINT™ you must up your game when it comes to prospecting. Here you write your prospecting plan. Share it with your agency owner.
TBP 3: QUALIFYING Travel is not a product that consumers fight not to buy. It’s one of those products that is basic to some and luxurious to others. Even a weekend away in a city that’s close to home can be a vacation and a “luxury” – not so much in the star quality of the hotel – but simply to be away from ‘the kids’ and doing the everyday thing. That’s a luxury too. So qualifying a customer shouldn’t be a fight to the death. It should be a matter of questions going both ways to determine: • Is what the customer asking for, what they want and need and will it give them the value and experience they are seeking • Can they afford this level of vacation • Can they pay when it comes time to do so The secondary level is based on whether or not this customer will prove to be a long term customer and one that refers their friends and family, or… a pain in the butt – and not worth the revenue they generate. To move closer towards THE BOOKING POINT™ you will need to have your questions designed and well practiced. At the same time, if you have managed to achieve the level of Product Knowledge already described and suggested, then you can handle any question that a customer is likely to ask you. The Needs Analysis: Some agencies have this next step documented and even scripted into their CRM – meaning you cannot go to the next page until the boxes are checked. So why do people travel? Most often it’s for personal reasons – a lifelong dream, to meet someone, experience something, a religious event, a wedding, their friends said it was great, to boast, to take photographs, to shoot video, attend a birthday, a funeral, go to a concert, attend a conference… and a whole lot more. There are over 300 niches and many more activities that “we” do when we go on vacation. It’s always a good idea to ask questions, dig a little deeper and to get to the main reason this customer is travelling. I call these Personal Journeys and we all have at least one to complete. I may not want to share the deeper reasons for my trip, however if I was feeling like I can trust you, and I like you – then I will answer your questions. When a customer opens up to you, you can move ahead to qualify and pinpoint the best of best vacations, products, services for them based on the money they wish to spend – and how much would that be do you think?
Here’s where “we” travel to the most. Chances are your long haul client will be heading to one of these Top 10 – Most Visited Countries. This by the way would be part of your Product Knowledge education – and knowing this information allows you to find out why people are travelling to France for instance.
The Question of Money: As I hear it, it seems to be a challenge asking a customer what their budget is for this trip. Here’s how you ask: “Tell me (pause) what is your overall budget for this trip?” How easy was that? Okay, you could go a little more highbrow and ask it this way, “To help me identify the best value for your money, may I ask how much you intend to invest in making this dream trip come true?” I’ll leave it to you decide fluff or no fluff. Most people are happy to disclose what they intend to spend. So now you have managed to secure the reasons for travel, the amount of money to be invested in the journey and now, based on your depth of experience and knowledge you can start to place before your client, three products, or three level of tours, or three ideas, or three suggestions. Never more than three and the reason for that is we, as in human beings, think in threes. ABCs, 123… Gold, Silver, Bronze… ‐ stick to the Power of Three and do not confuse the client or yourself by offering ten options. You will lose the sale. You will not get to the point of booking. At this stage, if you are feeling as if you and your client to be are in total harmony, almost, close enough, then you can move on and start to layout your ideas, your products, your FIT plan to cover their needs, wants, outcomes and budget. If they are well travelled then they could go independent – if new to travel, then it would be a tour with extra post tour nights at a hotel for local sightseeing and walkabouts.
TBP 4: MARKETING THE OFFER
TBP 5: HANDLING OBJECTIONS
Here’s where you spread out the brochures, open the atlas, walk your client to the wall‐map and start engaging them in their journey. Once again, only if your level of Product Knowledge is at the depth we’ve mentioned will you be confident enough to engage your client in this way. As you talk and tell you are weaving your client into their own personal journey. You are marketing it to them, selling it to them and if they are following you they will be in awe and fascinated about the trip that you will plan for them. If you fail to ignite that passion, if you offer a lack lustre presentation then you will push this client out the door. We do not need theatrics – but we do need energy and interest and passion from you. That’s what causes a client to buy into to you, to go with you, to become one with the situation and to meet you at THE BOOKING POINT™. Tell your stories, run your hand over the map, trace their journey, put a finger on the island where they will get married, draw a line on a printout to show them their cruise & tour itinerary… even write down the number of miles they will fly and journey overall. Build the adventure and bring them into it. Advise them of the features and the benefits and if they are very well travelled then sell the features only. They will already know the benefits of a balcony, a high floor, a luxury cabin… tell them that this balcony is the largest, that this cabin is the highest on the ship, the view is the best. They will work out the benefits. Keep this in mind as so many agents do not sell features. It’s a new skill. After covering off your three options, you would have advised the price for each and now you ask the client to decide. If you are in harmony with each other, the client will ask further questions to satisfy and confirm their decision. You simply answer to the point where there are no more questions. If you sense for some reason, the client is not in harmony with you and feeling pushed, be prepared as they ask more questions and place barriers (objections) in your way. You could fight for the sale or you could suggest a time out. Chances are if you are not in unison with this client, they want out anyway. Also, chances are, if this sale proceeded to a close, you can bet your boots that the vacation will not measure up and this client will return with a lawyer in tow or at least demanding a refund. You need to decide whether or not future grief is worth a current sale. If you can truly win the client over, then you can proceed towards THE BOOKING POINT™
From my experience an objection means the client has unanswered questions that just need to be answered. You could put a negative spin on it and call these questions, objections and if you go that route then you could be building anger more than harmony. Never use the word objection, always use the word question. “Great question… let me answer that for you…”, “Oh we didn’t cover that, here let me explain…” When the questions have run out, (the clients and yours), you can make the statement… “Have I answered all your questions… do you feel that you have all the information you need…?” Now you can suggest that you both, that would be “we”, move along and book their vacation. Your sales training includes reading body language – it will tell you whether or not your client is fully committed. If you notice something you must be honest and upfront and say, “I’m getting a vibe that you have more questions… have I missed anything… is there something bothering you about the products or the tour we’ve chosen…?” Settle and satisfy whatever the client responds with and then attempt a trial close again: “Looks like we’re ready to proceed, what do you say?” No response = more questions. Confirmation = close the sale.
TBP 6: CLOSING THE SALE Your trial close was the point where you asked for the sale. You asked to continue. A positive nod or word from the client is your permission to proceed and THE BOOKING POINT™ is getting closer, in fact it’s upon you now. There are no tricks required when you close the sale properly and professionally. The Natural Close is what we just reviewed. Both you and your client are in harmony, you’ve worked together honestly and with integrity and answered each other’s questions. You have suggested and the client has chosen and now money is to change hands. You have both reached THE BOOKING POINT™. The day isn’t won just yet. You can lose THE BOOKING POINT™ here any moment. A comment, a phone call, an interruption, a loud colleague, someone calling the client to say they’ve found a better price. Anything can happen and it does. To win back THE BOOKING POINT™ you may have to be assertive, take more control and confidently stand your ground. You could ask your client to put their friend on the speaker‐phone so you can both hear about their ‘better price’ – then you can handle the situation with your client by your side. The client may decide to walk and if they do, then you’ve lost THE BOOKING POINT™ and need to go into recovery mode to win it back.
TBP 7: FOLLOW UP Following up is a skill that can be applied before, during and after a transaction has taken place. Many times it is considered a post sale activity, however it can be enacted in times like this – when THE BOOKING POINT™ has been lost. In this situation you need to work fast. This means calling the client within ten minutes after they leave your agency. You causally advise them that you are going to hold the booking for them for 48 hours giving them time to evaluate the other offer. In this way, if the ‘friend’ tries to book the same tour with another agency you have a hold on it by name. Next you will talk your client into meeting again to review the difference in what their friend found and what you both agreed was the best product for them.
You also invite the ‘friend’ to meet with you and your client and now you must sell the ‘friend’ on your expertise and your suggested product. With both client and friend in front of you, IF the other offer was better and you feel comfortable going with it, you can switch horses and simply state, “You are right, this is better, let’s book it now and make sure we secure the best dates, seats, berths, departure… for you.” In essence you lost THE BOOKING POINT™ won it back to lose it again and then recovered it through one more round of quality Follow Up, Qualifying and Closing. Now you are well and truly at THE BOOKING POINT™ and about to put this transaction to bed.
IS A 2‐DAY PROGRAM THAT CAN BE PRESENTED ONSITE TO YOUR SALES TEAM, TIED INTO YOUR NEXT SALES MEETING, CONFERENCE OR, IF YOU ARE A SUPPLIER, SPONSORED FOR YOUR AGENCY ACCOUNTS TO ATTEND. EMAIL FOR DETAILS:
Fantastic! Works for me. Letâ€™s book it.
Every customer, including you and me, will go through a series of thought processes and decisions before we commit to a purchase. The traveller is no different. They too have questions about what they are about to purchase. It’s important that you know these generic steps in the buying process as they control the customer’s booking point AND YOUR BOOKING POINT, too.
Survey Says: According to the surveys conducted on consumer buying behaviour there are six stages. Other factors that will sway their decision include characteristics related to their demographics, social style and psychological needs. The Six Stages are: Stimulus, Unfulfilled Desire, Information Search, Evaluation of Alternatives, The Purchase or Booking Point & Post Purchase Behaviour. Let’s review each stage. Stimulus: Something kick‐starts the “I gotta go there’ gene. A stimulus can be called “a cue to motivate” and generally speaking, this would be a result of your advertising, marketing, social media, print ads and flyers, your emails, your presentations… something you have done, sent, offered has caused a reaction. If it wasn’t you, then it was something or someone else. A movie, a book, a poster, a TV ad, or another agency’s promotion – and now the customer is looking at you. They have moved to the next stage. Unfulfilled Desire: The customer has realized that something is missing in their life and in this case, it’s related to travel. They haven’t had a vacation for many years, they have been saving to go somewhere and not achieved it yet, they saw a price and place advertised and just have to go there. They’re thinking risks & benefits.
Information Search: Now the customer is engaged in a search for information on and about the travel they want to do and then who can serve them, satisfy their needs and wants. Could be you. Might be online. Might be a direct booking with the supplier. Evaluation of Alternatives: The customer has looked around online and if you are rising to the top in the results they might contact you. Or they might have checked the Yellow Pages and found you there. Your listing tells them that you would understand and could possibly service their travel needs. The Purchase / Booking Point: The customer has challenged you with their travel requirements and you have answered their questions as they have answered yours. The customer feels they can trust you, they like you and they are willing to spend their hard earned cash with you. You listened, you qualified, your presented the best alternatives without confusing them and they felt you had offered the best valued products to satisfy their unfulfilled desire. They have reached their point of purchase, their Booking Point. Post Purchase Behaviour: The customer will either thank you, sue you, not do business with you again, or become a loyal customer – and their reaction upon returning is based on how well their trip went, and if it did go sideways, how well you responded to their complaint.
Guest Article by Steve Gillick, CTM email@example.com
Is your business compass pointing to success? A compass reading can put your career in perspective. With the knowledge that the needle always points to the North, you can figure out where you are on the planet and then, if lost, make your way back to familiar territory. In the area of destination sales, your figurative compass is, in reality, the storehouse of experience you have acquired over the years. This is what you can call personal common sense—because it is your very own, cerebrally‐ copyrighted, individually unique set of guidelines that direct your success. No one else can make this claim. Your storehouse of experience is what keeps you grounded and if you go off course, you can calmly reflect, mentally re‐boot and confidently revert to your private inventory of acquired skills.
And with destinations in mind, what are these skills and how do they actually lead to The Booking Point™? When I speak with students in travel programs, I show them one slide in my presentation on which I have a list of my travels: 68 countries to date and over 500 destinations. I relate that I am showing this information, not to be a show‐off, but to establish my credentials as a destinations expert, based on my actual experience. I challenge the students to come up with their own lists of countries, islands, states, provinces, cities and towns visited. Furthermore, I emphasize that from this moment on, the students have to adopt the mind‐set of being a travel professional—one who is charting a career in travel, and of course, that career will inevitably set a new standard for success. To get in shape for this career, the students have to adopt the attitude that every single place, destination, venue, hotel, restaurant, cruise, holiday, drive‐in‐the‐country‐on‐a‐ Sunday‐afternoon, etc. is an opportunity to add to their storehouse of experience. They need to exercise their senses of seeing, tasting, feeling, hearing, smelling about each new experience. They have to pretend that tomorrow, someone with a credit card who is willing to travel to that destination, will ask them if they would recommend it. How big is the town, what does the downtown area look like? Are there any good coffee shops? Theatres?
Restaurants? Other attractions? Is it walkable, is it accessible? What about the souvenir shops? What about the people who live in the town? How long did it take to travel to the destination? What are the travel options to reach it? and more. Of course, in a classroom situation, the most of the students are madly writing down all this information for fear that a question might appear on an upcoming test or exam. But some students are not writing. They are compiling their own thoughts about destinations they have visited and thinking how comfortable they are already with treating each venue as an investment in their future career, and how they might, in fact, preserve this information in files or in a database so it is easily accessible and updatable, as their storehouse grows over the years. These are the ones who are not afraid of success and embrace it wholeheartedly.
…they are already treating each venue as an investment in their future career…
Seeing a destination is the first step toward reaching The Booking Point™. “Seeing” means that you are not on the proverbial motor coach tour, looking to the right and the left as the guide tells you what to observe.
It means that you are charting your own course of action by looking up and down and sideways. It means that you are making efforts to ‘understand’ the destination by walking the streets to better appreciate distance and ambiance, speaking with the locals to develop an affinity with the destination; meeting the movers and shakers at the hotels, resorts and attractions so that you are developing personal contacts; looking for the so‐called niche markets in and about the destination, starting with your own personal interests (golf, spas, shopping, culinary, sports, theatre etc) and then thinking about whether the interests of your clients and friends could be satisfied here. ‘Seeing’, means taking local tours to get a feel for what is offered; how the tours are conducted, and how the tour guides relate to their clients. It means visiting hotel rooms to arrive at what is known as the USP of each hotel: the unique selling points that differentiate one from the other. It means understanding nuances: the difference in coach transportation between cities, local bus transportation, business class versus economy, cruise ship amenities and cabins. It means actually sampling local foods, the specialty dish of the area and sitting in a variety of restaurants of different standards in order to build your inventory of personal experience at that destination. Sometimes this can be a fun challenge, as well as a great story to relate to clients. I often talk about my eating experiences in China. I was travelling on my own during part of my trip. I don’t speak Mandarin and, ok, I will say it: I kind of look like a tourist! I returned to a restaurant in Beijing where I had eaten the week before with the tour group. I was the only foreigner in the place and it was as if I had walked into one of those saloons in a cowboy movie—everyone stopped what they were doing to look at me. Undeterred, I went to the front window in which the various dishes on the menu were displayed using plastic models. But I wanted chicken with rice and that was not on display. So when the waitress approached, knowing full well that I did not speak Mandarin, I tried saying “chicken” but that did not work. So I imitated a chicken, much to her delight and the rest of the restaurant clientele. They were all smiles and laughs. Then I imitated eating rice and received the same reaction. The waitress was happy, I was happy and it was actually a very pleasant meal from then on as various patrons called out the one or two English words they knew. We were all friends!
In Xian, the home of the terra‐cotta warriors, there is THE dish that you have to try (or brave, depending on your perspective). It is a very heavy, greasy mutton soup called Yang Rou Pao Mo. After you are seated, the server will provide you with some flat bread made from wheat flour, along with an empty soup bowl. You then break the bread into tiny pieces (Actually, the size of the broken bread pieces is in proportion to the experience of the patron. Tourists sampling the place for the first time use large chunks; locals use tiny chunks). Then the server collects your bowl and returns it a few minutes later filled with the mutton soup, in which you add sweet pickled garlic, coriander and hot pepper sauce. To experience the process of visiting one of the restaurants (The Tong Sheng Xiang in Bell and Drum Tower Square is one of the more famous), is priceless and helps to establish your credibility when selling visits to Xian or anywhere in China for that matter. Even if you don’t relish eating the dish, or just want a tiny taste, or just sit with friends, it is the experience that counts, as it is your experience that amplifies your credentials in arriving at that booking point. Just think of this in terms of making a suggestion to your client and then your client says, “Hmmm...that’s interesting...tell me more”. Has the client called your bluff? (the implication being, that I don’t know anything else...I am just relating anecdotes that people have mentioned to me) or is the “tell me more” the opening of the booking process where you start to go into detail, not only about the wonderful things you experienced, the food, the people, the culture, the amazing antique flea market down that side street, but also about the standard attractions, hotels, tours and restaurants at the destination. And you thought that Fam trips were only about the freebies. Not so. Savvy travellers use them to add rooms to their storehouse of experience. When I was on a Fam in Jaipur, India, the group was scheduled to spend 2 hours having lunch at the Holiday Inn. I ate in about 20 minutes and then spent the rest of the time walking the area, taking photos and meeting local shopkeepers and merchants. When I showed my photos to the group a few weeks later, some remarked “We never saw that...are you sure these are from the same trip?” I reminded them that while they were eating, I was exploring. (I did the same in Peru and wrote a an article called “Eighty‐Five Minutes in Huanchaco”, see www.talkingtravel.ca/huanchaco.html )
And the big question is, do you have to have visited a destination in order to sell it? The answer is NO, if you are able to use your experiential savvy from other trips to prompt your research about the destination in question. Google is a travel researcher’s best friend. LinkedIn can be valuable in establishing personal contacts. Tourist Boards are amazing sources of insider information. Suppliers usually understand the big picture and can advise how their products and services will complement your clients’ needs. And there are countless websites, magazines, television programs and apps that can also assist. The Destination Booking Point occurs when you have that feeling of enthusiasm for what a destination has to offer, and through the course of a conversation with the client, you narrow down the options—based on their articulated needs—and then offer your learned suggestions.
And what are the tools of the Destination Booking Point Trade? Confidence, experience, research, an insatiable quest for knowledge, the know‐how to ask the right questions, the ability to react to those questions you can’t immediately answer, to listen to your client, and to speak with positivity and a career‐defining‐comfort‐level that says “I am a destination master and the experience I sell you, will be life‐changing”. Your storehouse of experience is your compass to guide you to success. Selling Travel starts with that flicker of recognition of the needs your client expresses and then the ability to mind‐map those needs to the unique destination that is waiting for them. And don’t forget to order the soup!
Steve Gillick’s first article appeared in the Dunera Ship Newsletter in 1967. Since then he has written extensively about travel. He authored the Scam Watch column in Canadian Traveller Magazine for many years, wrote and edited CITC’s industry and consumer newsletters from 1995 to 2012, authors the "Travel Coach” column in www.TravelIndustryToday.com; composes travel blogs at www.talkingtravelblog.ca, contributes articles to www.travelmarketreport.com and www.sellingtravel.net, and has a ghost writing service where he assists professionals with articles and speeches to enhance their involvement in industry events. Many of Steve's articles have been posted to www.broowaha.com where over 6,250 consumers have enjoyed his thoughts on destinations and travel trends.
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It’s been said that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. What this translates into in travel salesmanship is that people need to buy brand you before they buy travel products and services from you. Thousands of articles have been written on HOW to sell travel but very few discuss why people buy travel from you… the seller of travel. And, without a good broad understanding of WHY people buy from you, your salesmanship is limited at best. Let me start by saying don’t ever get caught selling travel…that’s right…as your sales coach let me repeat…DON’T EVER GET CAUGHT SELLING TRAVEL! My advice is to simply help people buy… buy brand you! You are not in the business of selling travel as much as you are in the business of selling you. Whether you want to admit it, or not, there is no sale without a relationship, and forget about a repeat customer, referral, or testimonial. Here are some tips to position brand you as a travel sales specialist online and off that will help you begin the process of putting a relationship first. 1. Think Like Your Customer. How do you greet your prospects online and off? Are you personalizing / humanizing the first impression or doing business like everyone else by email, texting, and Facebook (unless they told you specifically they want to communicate via those mediums)? Get customer focused and personalize the travel experience for them!
2. Open Up Communication Channels. Ensure prospects and your customer base know HOW you can help them save time and money by using your travel customization skills, abilities, and expertise. Generally, travel prospects and customers want their booking experience to be convenient and hassle‐free, make it your priority to offer these types of benefits to them. Engage and interact (bottom line…be available) online and off as best you can. Whether you like it or not, people want access to you and your wow services after 5:00pm. I suggest you begin to manage your Facebook strategy (more on this next month!) to help keep you connected after hours and to keep communication channels open. 3. Ask Great Questions. Travel sales specialists are profitable because they take the time to professionally stand out by asking amazing qualifying questions customized to both the prospect and repeat customer. Curiosity and care precedes wow customer service and helps you stand above your competition. Great questions range from food and entertainment preferences to previous vacation experiences and bucket list conversations (online and off!). A true travel sales specialist knows they are on the right‐track when they have a conversation taking place and not a simple yes/no dialogue. See Carol Beer and what not to do. Check in with me next month regarding a simple Facebook strategy that keeps brand you top of mind every day! Feel free to Tweet me your opinion and send me an example of your brand you on my Facebook Like page here.
Cory Andrichuk, B.A. Soci. MCC President & Travel Entrepreneur Business Coach
On this page we enhance the sales relationship between supplier BDMs and the travel agent. Outcome: faster, quicker, larger, higher revenue sales!
As you can read, this page is called the EXTREME BDM page. I named it that as I feel BDMs need to be extreme to cut through the clutter and pitch their brands. It’s not easy putting your brand ahead of the competition’s ‐ and just as travel agents must learn everything they can about The Booking Point™ ‐‐ so must you, the BDM. So far I’ve mentioned the word role play and practice enough that the reader has gotten the message. To increase sales (of your brand) they must role play to the point of perfection. There is only one person who can decide on that level of perfection and that would be YOU. The BDM. The question to you then is this: how many times each month do you ask your agency accounts to role play with you – the selling of your products? No worries, I already know the answer: zip, nada to maybe once “…but no one likes role plays so I stopped doing them.”
If you can move, nudge, push and cajole your agency accounts closer to The Booking Point™ ‐ then you will be moving into the corner office sooner rather than later. When conducting FAM trips make sure that you meet as a group and you spend hours, yes hours role playing/practicing the art of closing the sale for your top products and destinations. You could also call your top accounts together city by city and host a workshop that is purely focused on telling and selling. Nothing but role playing to perfection. “Okay everyone… you know you luv’em! Time to practice what we’ve learned… let’s pair up and practice… repeat it ten times each, or until you get it right.” Read the BDM Mantra once again and keep repeating it to yourself. It is your job and role to make sure your accounts can sell your products. It may be that you need to sharpen your own skills so that you can coach your accounts all the way to The Booking Point™.
Remember the BDM Mantra: “If I can’t sell it to them… they won’t sell it for me!”
412 PAGES 273 IDEAS 100s of VARIATIONS 700 LINKS TO MORE RESOURCES When you need a source of ideas to either implement as is, or to help jog your own creative juices, this is the book to buy. It took me over 25 years to get it ‘here’ and that story is on page 5. It was some journey. When I started writing it, the IBM Selectric was the word processor of choice! What a laugh. Some suppliers have purchased a copy for each of their Business Development Managers, host agencies have made bulk purchases for their members and individual agents have written in to say this book is their idea bible.
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THE BOOKING POINT ISSUE