There are people who book travel for others, and then there are Travel Advisors. While the former may simply book a flight and make a hotel reservation, Travel Advisors craft custom, unique travel experiences that the client couldn’t get on their own. Whether it is a private dinner in the Sistine Chapel or a bespoke safari though private game reserves in Africa, these journeys stand miles apart from a typical vacation. As a result, clients value their Advisor’s expertise and connections, and book their travel through them again and again. But what is it that makes these Advisors stand out from the rest? We’ve rounded up a list of best practices of a successful Travel Advisor that you can adopt to transform your business.
Find your Niche
Focus on an area of travel rather than try to be a jack of all trades. Clients turn to you for your expert advice, so finding your niche allows you to develop a deeper knowledge that will benefit them. For example, Brownell Independent Advisor Linda Allen specializes in cruises. Through her razor sharp focus, she has made herself known as the expert on all things cruising and has been featured in several publications, including Conde Nast Traveler.
Get Out There
Not all clients will come to you. Look for ways to find and network with potential clients in your city, whether it be joining social clubs, participating in community events, or speaking at garden clubs. You can also reach a larger audience thanks to the internet! Set up a website, blog, and social media pages, but be sure to keep them regularly updated.
In this age of instant gratification, people want (and expect) timely responses, therefore, make sure you are available to your clients. Your 9 to 5 schedule may not work for someone who lives in a different time zone, so flexibility is key. Forward your email to you smart phone so that you can respond promptly even when you are not at your desk. If you are going to be out of pocket for an extended amount of time, be sure to set up an out of office message that includes another person of contact.
Create an Experience
Clients, especially VIP clients, expect more than a cookie cutter travel experience. Take time to get to know their unique needs and wants so that you can craft an extraordinary travel experience. At Brownell, the first step of the Discover More process is the Discovery phase, where the Advisor and client talk through the client’s vision for the trip. The Advisor can learn about their preferences, previous experience, and personal needs and use that knowledge to plan a trip the client will love.
Stay in Touch
After finalizing reservations, it is so important to maintain contact with the client. Studies show that the most excitement during the travel process comes during the time leading up to the trip. Sending something special or contacting your client keeps them engaged and excited about the trip.
On the flip side, once the client returns it is also important to stay in touch. In addition to reliving the experience during a post-trip interview, keep in contact with your clients throughout the year with marketing. Newsletters, e-blasts, and direct mail keep you on the radar of your client. (And in the Brownell Hosting program, Advisors have access to the in-house marketing team—talk about a perk!)
Always Be a Student
With renovations, management shifts, and new builds constantly taking place, it is vital that you never stop learning. Keep in contact with travel suppliers, and take time to visit the destinations in which you specialize. The Brownell Hosting Program offers Advisors continuous training through Virtuoso webinars and training tours as well as exclusive Educational trips and the annual Company Meeting.