Sales representatives in the travel trade have one thing in common – they’re expected to step outside and bring in the business through the door. I remember when I was first hired, my boss said, ‘OK, there’s the door, go bring in the business!’. In this article, I will offer simple yet effective tips and techniques I used to bring customers in through the door without ever stepping outside.

Having worked as Marketing Executive for a travel agency in Dar es salaam for 9 years AND doing it successfully, I want to share with you how getting customers through the door is not difficult at all when you follow a few very simple, tried and tested steps that I used myself to turn my holidaymakers department into the most talked-about and read-about travel department in town.

Whether your business is new or well established, going out to poach clients from other travel agencies by either undercutting air fares or offering obscene, unsustainable incentives to swing the business your way, isn’t only desperate and shortsighted, it isn’t going to get you very far. If you’re serious about building a thriving travel business, start by first knowing your product; getting to know your customers and attending to their needs in earnest. I will show you a couple of tricks that worked for me time and time again.

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After doing the rounds calling on local companies to try and drum up some new business accounts, I realized, after just a couple of months, that it wasn’t going to work. But I wasn’t going to give up. I was determined to keep my job and to make a success of it. And so I fervently went looking for an angle every other agency had overlooked. I started package holidays to neighboring countries and Indian ocean islands! I published a newsletter that featured the destinations I had handpicked for them, and mailed that out to clients and prospects all over town. It was easy. And because I was the only one doing this, I got swamped! It worked. I finally had them coming through the door.

And now I’ll give you a few tips on how I made them feel special when they stepped in.

If you haven’t got the information your customer wants on the destination they want to travel to, offer to find the information and have it delivered to them. I used hand-written complimentary slips popped in the post or delivered by messenger to send information to them … with perhaps a brochure or price quote attached. You know what I’m alluding to? The personal touch! It works wonders every time. Just because you don’t have the information they want at your fingertips doesn’t mean you’re going to lose the business. Stay calm. Don’t panic. Uncertainty can lose you a customer. Promise to deliver the information they need. They won’t think any less of you. On the contrary, they will appreciate your offering to help… not to mention your sincerity.

Here’s another tip: pay attention to your customer. Hold all calls, and don’t make eye contact with other customers whilst attending the one in front of you. Sometimes they would use that window to make an attempt to jump the queue. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging their presence with a nod and a smile, but don’t indulge them. Concentrate on the person sitting in front of you. And please, stay calm. You have to appear ‘in control’ for them to have confidence in the travel rep they’re dealing with. It’s all about stage management.

So: the next time you’re getting all stressed out over your job in the travel trade, remember to stay calm and put your customer first. Prospecting for new customers, in this industry particularly, isn’t as simple as ABC. Look for an angle your competitors haven’t cottoned on to and exploit that to your advantage. But remember: the personal touch and attention to detail is absolutely critical to your success in the travel industry.

Anthony J. Namata is a successful Internet entrepreneur and author of The Gems Report. He is also the owner of Entrepreneur Paperbacks – and is committed to helping people in the developing world find financial independence and freedom with SFI Marketing Group.