Triple your Travel Sales: Master the Art of Email Follow-Ups

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  • December 20, 2016

Are you just sending one email to prospective guests and then forgetting about it? If so you are leaving a ton of sales on the table. A recent study by Hubspot shows that 44% of sales people give up after just one follow-up and that 80% of sales require five follow-ups. If you don’t have a strategy in place to properly manage and follow-up with your potential guests you’re leaving the majority of your sales on the table. There is a reason that 10% of the tour operators out there make 90% of the sales. Read on if you want to join the top 10% and see how to master the art of following-up.

Rule #1: People Purchase When They Are Ready

The fact is that most people who inquire about a destination are not ready to buy today and around 35% of them will take more than a year before they finalize a purchase. Of course if you sell day tours in Paris more people may be willing to book immediately but many people spend months planning a cruise or a safari. That means if you want the sell you have to follow-up and while doing so you need add value and build trust. A good sales person will view these facts as an opportunity since the majority of tour operators are too lazy or simply don’t have a system in place to make follow-ups.

Rule #2: You Need an Organized System to Follow-up Properly

You can’t properly make follow-ups without an organized system. It’s key to log all communications and track the progress of each lead through the sales pipeline so you can manage your time most effectively.

If you don’t have this in place we are providing a simple free template based on a Google Sheet that you can download today and put to use. Check the instructions at the bottom of this blog post (click here).

I suggest scheduling follow-ups at 3 days, 7 days, 20 days and 45 days. If you have not received any response after a month you can give up and add the email to your (Non Responder List). If you do get a response you can start the process over but with a decreased frequency and over a longer time period.

Rule #3: Stop Selling and Start Adding Value

Does your follow up email start with something like “I just wanted to touch base..” or “just a quick follow-up…” These types of emails suck and will quickly show that you are unable to add any value.

Take some time to create relevant content that will better inform potential prospects. It could be information on finding the best flights, which group to join, the best seasons or other add-on activities. You are best equipped to figure out what information your guests need and how to give it to them. Once you have the content make sure to develop them as templates that can be easily inserted in follow up emails (see how here).

Its okay to reiterate and repeat the value that your product offers in your follow-ups as long as you are providing other information as well that informs, educates and stimulates engagement. Remember to keep things simple and friendly. Long emails are seldom read completely and are likely to bore the reader.

Rule #4: Email & Voicemail Make A Powerful Combination

Picking up the phone and talking to potential guests is a great way to build trust and can save from having to answering multiple questions over email. 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. No one likes a midnight call so be aware of your guest’s time zone!

If you have the opportunity be sure to leave a voice message and mention your name and the companies name. Just hearing a voice lets the guest know you are a real person. Follow-up with an email immediately letting the guests know that you tried to contact them and ask them what might be a good time for a call. Give them several options for times or set up a profile on a website like where a guest can book a call with you: www.appointy.com or doodle.com. If a potential guest wants to schedule a call with you make sure you are available. Real sales people know that nothing is more important than closing a sale!

I personally don’t like using Skype or Whatsapp for chatting with guests for a variety of reasons that are worth exploring in another post but if a guest requests me to contact them on one of these mediums I will.

Rule #5: Don’t Give Up Easily

Some of the highest performing tour operators at Touristlink are closing leads that are more than a year old. This does not happen just out of the blue and takes strategy, planning and execution on your part.

Replies on Email

The above picture shows the percentage of email opens based on the number of emails sent. Odds are that if you keep sending emails you will get a reply. This graphic was from an excellent blog post by Yesware that’s worth a read.

Rule #6: Be Patiently Persistent

Most of us in sales hope to close the deal after the first meeting or email but studies indicate that only 2% of sales occur after the first contact. This means if you’re sending just one email and making one contact you’re leaving 98% of sales on the table for someone else to make.

If you have a great product with good reviews and pricing you can almost forget about selling. Your product will sell itself. All you have to focus is building trust by adding value, engaging and being top of mind when the guest is ready to book whether it’s today or a year from now.

Sending just the right number of follow-ups is an art that you can perfect over time. If too many of your leads are responding they have booked with someone else you might not be following up enough. On the other hand if people are asking to be removed from your mailing list you might be overdoing it.

Rule #7: Make Sure You Get to “No”

Getting to “No” shows that you are doing something right. If you are not hearing “No” it means you are not following up enough. Getting a negative response from a potential lead is good for two reasons. First off, it means you can remove that person from your list and save time from future follows. Secondly, you will often get a reason along with the response which will help you understand how to better position your product in the market.

Just because you get a “No” does not mean the sale is lost. For example, if the guest indicates pricing as an obstacle it might just be an opportunity to introduce a cheaper option. Even if a guest booked with someone else always give them your best wishes on the trip and let them know you would help them in the future.

Rule #8: Personalization is Key

Just because you are using templates (Read here if you’re not) does not mean you can skip personalizing your emails. Do a little research on your guests by checking their social profiles just so you can see who you’re dealing with and tailor your email accordingly. One of my favorite Gmail extensions for this is rapportive which automatically pulls social detail alongside the email. Take a minute to add a personal touch or by asking questions that will spark conversation.

Rule #9: Use Bulk Email to Stay in Contact with Nonresponders

Sometimes you just wont get a response although you know the email is valid and you may even know that your email has been opened. A lot of these emails are worth keeping on your list and continuing contact with on an automated basis. I suggest saving these and importing them into a bulk mail sender like mailchimp.com where you can import up to 2000 emails for free and email on a regular basis. I’ll be covering how to build a mailing list in a future post in more detail but for now just make sure you are saving those valuable contact details.


Download the Free Sales Follow-up Template (Click Here)
Lead Followups

This is quite a simple Google doc that you can download and use to manage your leads. If you keep everything up to date you can see how many follow-up emails you sent an individual if they have responded and what was the last date of communication. There are many ways to go about this and as you move ahead you can create your own system but if you don’t have anything in place this will serve as a good place to start managing all your leads.

Here are some instructions on how to get started:

Name, Email, Country, Phone, and Package: These fields are self explanatory. Simple enter the customers data.

First Email: This is the date on which you sent the first email. It should be the same date on which the guest inquired.

Last Email: This is the date on which you sent the most recent email to the guest.

# Email: This is the total number of emails exchanged with the guest. Every time you send an additional email this should increase by one.

Call Date: This is the date on which you tried to call the guest. If you called more than once enter the most recent date.

Call Note: Log any essential communication that should be included in the subsequent email follow-up.

Note: This is a general log where you can track special requests or a specified time to make a subsequent follow-up.

Shading: You can shade leads with which you are actively emailing back and forth as Green (these are your “hot” leads). Shade leads who have responded once as light blue (these are warm leads) and leave un-shaded those leads that have never responded.

Suggested Further Reading:

3 Ways an Email Tracking App Can Increase Your Travel Sales

10 Effective Email Strategies to Increase Travel Sales

About David Urmann

PhD Ohio State. Led the development of over 100 websites since 2003 resulting in 150 million+ page views. Moved to India in 2006 to expand my existing US based internet business and met my present business partner. I am an avid traveller having visited over 40 countries and launched Touristlink out of my passion for travel.

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