More than 90% of bookings in the tours and activities sector happen offline. The fact is that travelers looking to book multi day itineraries want to speak with someone in person and get their questions answered before they decide to book. Tour operators and travel agents frequently generate inquiries from interested travelers directly from their website, Facebook page or by word of mouth. However, managing and converting an inquiry into a booking requires great salesmanship. Here are 11 Simple tips that you can put into place immediately to increase the number of bookings you get.
1. Be Prompt.
Once a traveler has made an inquiry or asks a follow-up questions it’s extremely important to respond immediately. I have repeatedly had travelers tell me the reason they booked with a certain company was because they gave fast replies via email or phone. When you respond quickly it helps to establish trust and proves your reliability. Put yourself in the shoes of the traveler. What does it say if your response takes more than 24 hours? What if my plane ticket changes is the agent going to respond quickly once I have booked? Being fast is a 24/7 job. Challenge yourself to respond to every inquiry with 5 hours during non-working hours and within the hour if you are working.
2. Make Things Simple.
When a traveler makes an inquiry they often include details about what they are looking for. Try to understand exactly what your customer is looking and when crafting your response be straight and to the point. Give relevant options but don’t overwhelm. If your product is too complex try to simplify it. The point here is to make the whole process as simple as possible for the traveler. If you don’t make it simple they won’t book.
3. Ask Questions.
Ask your client relevant questions that will help you decide what the right travel product is for them. Include simple questions in your email both as way to get more details from the client but also as a means to engage them. Your email should be formatted so that it’s easy for the client to respond without having to think what the next steps are.
4. Be Concise.
In todays, busy-information overloaded world everyone has a short attention span. Keep your emails short and to the point. Only include the most relevant details. If your product has 14 inclusions and 7 exclusions ask yourself if you need to include them all in email. Pick out the most relevant ones and refer the client to link with expanded details.
5. Phone vs. Email.
Email every client promptly. Call clients that indicate they want to talk on the phone. Cold calling interested clients who have not responded to an email within the first 24 hours is a good way to engage. If no one answers the phone leave a voice mail or send them a text message indicating you tried to contact them. If the sales process is proceeding as planned just with email communications you don’t need to call. Solicit phone calls in your emails and ask clients when a good time to call is. Finally, be cognizant of your client’s time zone and limit your calls to between 10am and 8pm on weekdays and between noon and 4pm on Saturday. Making calls on Sunday is generally not a good idea unless it’s at the client’s request.
6. Personalize Your Responses.
Everyone likes to feel special. If you just send the same standard template to every client it will be obvious. It’s fine to develop base templates but make an effort to personalize each email you send. Just a small effort at personalization can double response rates.
7. Set Expectations Appropriately.
Potential customers appreciate honesty and getting all the facts upfront. Mentioning important exclusions can help build trust. Just because a customer does not ask does not mean you should withhold important information. Screen your customers and make sure they know all the details and costs before they arrive to avoid potential arguments. You might lose a sale or two in the process but in the long run you will have a lot more happy customers and that’s what matter.
8. Follow-Up Consistently.
You need to follow-up in a consistent and organized manner with potential leads. It’s best to send a series of emails if at first you don’t get a response. I suggesting sending the first email immediately and then reminder emails on day 3, 6, 10, 20, 30, 45 and 60. If you don’t get any response after the 7th email you can give up. However it’s good to save all the emails you collect to build an email list that you can use for bulk mailings. If someone was interested once they may be interested again in the future. If you don’t get a response after the first email you should try calling the person on the phone. If you don’t reach them on the first call you can make follow-up calls after you send the emails on days 3, 6 and 10.
9. Formatting and Grammar Matter.
Make sure your emails are properly formatted and that you don’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes. Plain text emails that are personalized are often the best. Overusing bold text or different colored text can be distracting and make your email hard to read. Simple is best.
10. Generate More Leads.
The more leads you generate the more chances you have to close a sale. If you don’t generate enough leads from your own website you can buy leads from a provider like Touristlink (click here).
11. Manage Your Time.
Travel sales is a time consuming and demanding job but it’s also rewarding. Make sure you manage your time appropriately and follow-up on the highest value leads with the most potential first.