Urban

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if every prospect you speak to went ahead and booked a trip with you after your first consultation?

Unfortunately, as we all know, this isn’t typically the way it plays out. More often, we do the upfront work and then need to keep the conversation open until they’re ready to make a decision. Sometimes this buying cycle takes days; other times, months. So how do you follow-up with prospects without sounding like a broken record asking, “Are you ready to buy yet?” over and over?

Before you can even think about following-up, you need to make sure you know why your prospect hasn’t yet made a purchase. From your first conversation, you know when they want to travel and at this point (I assume), you’ve recommended a booking timeline in order to secure both the space and the best rates. That timeframe will either be now or some time in the near future.

Let’s take a look at both scenarios.

If that timeframe hasn’t arrived yet, you’re going to use the time between now and then to build value in yourself, to keep you top of mind, and to maintain and build their excitement level. Set yourself a follow-up schedule in your CRM, Outlook calendar, day planner or whatever you use to stay organized. If you have more than three months, set-up a monthly follow up. Between one and three months, increase it to bi-weekly, and in the last month before booking, increase to a weekly outreach.

The goal is make sure your client doesn’t forget you, while ensuring they don’t think you’ve forgotten them. A lot can happen in a few months between meeting a prospect and completing the booking; they’ll no doubt be talking about upcoming travels with friends and family, and there will inevitably be recommendations from said family and friends on where to go, what to do and who to book with. While you can’t stop that from happening, good follow-up is key in making sure your prospect is happy and confident working with you, and is less susceptible to speaking with any other travel advisor.

“Great”, you’re thinking, “But how about that whole broken record thing? What exactly am I reaching out with?” The key here is to offer something new and of value to them in each follow-up. This needs to go beyond a monthly e-newsletter that you or your agency sends; it has to be personal.

Examples of what you can send them include:

  • A summary of new information you’ve learned, in the event that you enjoy a visit from a BDM who handles their desired destination, or attend a presentation or webinar.
  • An article you’ve come across that covers the destination/trip they’re planning (search CanadianTraveller.com for travel articles from around the world!).
  • A blog post that you think will inspire or resonate with them. (Pro tip: Follow your favourite travel writers, bloggers and video bloggers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr as to keep up-to-date with all of their posts. When a relevant one pops-up for one of your prospects, keep it on file and send it to them when it’s time for your next scheduled follow-up.)
  • Reviews/comments from other clients of your agency who have just returned from the destination.
  • Agency news. For example, have you or your agency just won a Reader’s Choice or local business award? Let your prospect know. Personalize the message by saying you appreciate every single client and that you’re excited to help them plan their trip. Show them how much pride you have in what you do.
  • Anything personal you think they’d appreciate. If you’ve talked about a shared love of reading, send them a recommendation of the book you just finished. Ask for their recommendations in return.
  • FAM trip reports written by yourself or your colleagues.
  • And, of course, new booking rates, bonuses and promotions that have just come out that pertain to their booking. Even if a seat sale comes out but you still recommend they wait to book, tell them! You want them to know you’re staying on top of things and that you haven’t forgotten about them.

While these are only a few of many possibilities, it gives you an idea on how to get started. 

As the booking timeframe approaches, you’ll want to start including more logistical information in your follow-up notes – rates, upgrades, promos, new airline baggage policies. In any case, make sure you use language that assumes you’re going to be getting the sale. For example, “There’s going to be a promotion starting next week. I’ll give you a call when I have the details so we can get your holiday booked” sounds more confident than, “There’s going to be a promotion starting next week. Let me know if you’re ready to book and I’ll give you a call”. 

Make sure you use this confident tone throughout the follow-up process. You’re working hard in the background. You deserve this sale. You’re going to get this sale. Keep your messaging upbeat and excited but always sure and confident. 

There will be times that you get completely ghosted by a prospect; you’ll make a good connection, you’ll follow-up consistently and they’ll never respond. It sucks. It happens to all of us but that doesn’t make it any better and it’s hard not to take it personally. Once you’ve stepped up your calls and e-mails and have decided that you’re just not getting anywhere, send a clear and concise e-mail asking for them to please let you know one way or the other if they’re still interested in working with you. Try to remember that things change – any number of things could have happened in their lives that are causing them to be unable to commit and, more often than not, people tend to feel bad telling someone ‘no’. And the longer they avoid saying no, the harder it becomes to say ‘no’.

Use a subject line such as, “Your Guidance Please”, and make your e-mail body look something like this:

It was a real pleasure meeting you and I’ve been looking forward to helping make your travel dreams a reality. I’ve been following-up to see if you’re ready to go ahead with your booking but haven’t heard back so I’d like to ask for your guidance in how I should proceed. Please let me know if a) you’re not going to be committing to a trip at this time or b) you need to postpone your decision and would like me to reach back out in a given timeframe. I’ve enjoyed working with you and hope that, either way, we can work together in the future.

Hopefully, they answer but they may not. Whether the situation will be option A or option B, you’ve given them a way to let you know without feeling bad for not having responded previously. The added benefit is that you’re leaving this interaction on a positive note so the next time they’re ready to start planning, they’ll head in your direction first.

 

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