I received a contract from a new vendor recently. We’d had several conversations about the scope of the work, and I was ready to sign on the dotted line. In the same e-mail as the contract, they attached a Charter of Expectations. The document included not only what I could expect of them, but what they expected of me as a client. I was intrigued – and you can bet I read every word before sending it back.
It got me thinking, is a Charter of Expectations a tool travel advisors could use to establish stronger business relationships, right from the start? Could it help weed out some of the “tire kickers” who are just price shopping?
As salespeople, we are often afraid of coming across as too pushy or too assertive. We don’t want to ask more of a client than we must, because we don’t want to make it harder for them to do business with us. But so many advisors struggle with clients who don’t respect their time, knowledge and the hard work they put into research and planning. This is, in part, because the advisor’s value hasn’t been adequately established in the client’s mind from the get-go.
A lot of advisors use a document that details, “why work with me?" or “what you can expect from me,” but I’d place a hefty wager that not many lay out what they expect of their client.
We all know who our ideal client is, so what’s wrong with laying that out right from the start? Business relationships are a two-way street, so why not establish what you – as a travel professional – expect of the other party?
Your expectations could include things like clear and timely communication, thorough review of documents, one primary contact for group bookings… the list goes on. If you do not charge a service fee, you might have the client acknowledge you only get paid for booked travel (not research), so you have an expectation that your time will be respected.
Using a Charter of Expectations will accomplish the following:
- It establishes a professional tone within the relationship and exudes confidence from the beginning.
- Listing what you expect of your client first will ensure they’ll read the entire document, just as I did. It’s not something they see often, and they’ll dial into the process quickly.
- You can still use the “what you can expect of me" section to detail the benefits of working with you. Think, for example, “leveraging existing supplier relationships to secure you preferred pricing and added extras,” or “a dedicated 24/7 emergency line/contact for assistance while you’re travelling.” Explicitly illustrating these benefits is a great way to make people realize they’ll be on their own if they choose to book online.
- If someone is just planning to take your information and shop the price around, it’ll make some of them think twice about taking up your time if they’re not planning to book. You’ll never be able to weed them all out, but I bet it’ll help.
So, my challenge to you is to create your own Charter of Expectations. Use it early in the planning process. Ask your clients to acknowledge they’ve read it or even better, ask them to sign it back to you. Send it with confidence, like it’s a normal part of doing business.
Don’t be apprehensive to set your expectations from the start. You’re a professional and they’re coming to you for a reason. Your time and expertise are invaluable and worth it.
If they won’t acknowledge it from the start, they weren't serious to begin with.
KNOT members, we’re giving you a head start!
We’ve created a Charter of Expectations for you to use as a template.
It’s available in our members-only Facebook group and it was uploaded in Microsoft Word document format so you can add or remove points as you see fit.
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