Beyond The Expected Return To Article Menu
Make your travel agency stand out by providing unexpected service
Until now the letters B-T-E stood for my first sales book, “Become the Exception.” It was written to remind travel professionals that they needed to stand out if they position themselves as the go-to source for arranging travel.
In our “me-too” industry, in most cases when you see one travel-related website, you see them all. When you visit one brochure-adorned travel agency, you’ve been there, done that. When you meet one bored, over-taxed travel agent, that sets the stage for the next. What is a motivated, interested, sincere, energized travel professional to do?
The information packed into “Become the Exception” was my way of issuing a challenge to travel agents who had an interest in distancing themselves from their “dime-a-dozen” competitors in travel land. As for the letters B-T-E, I have three new words for you to think about. “Beyond the Expected” issues yet another challenge for those of you who are taking your business seriously.
Before providing you with the direction required to position you and your agency as something beyond what’s expected, allow me to remind you of what people have come to expect in today’s mediocre business environment. By way of daily personal experience, consumers have come to expect the following treatment: voice mail, rude service providers, information falling short of the truth, delays, excuses, poor performance, lack of training, terse and uncertain responses to questions, rip-offs, a shortage of value, miscommunications, lip service in lieu of customer service, failure to deliver services as promised and mistakes.
Assuming that this list is somewhat accurate, let’s see how easy it is to move “beyond the expected.” Here are a few reminders designed to make you and your agency stand out:
Give good phone. Answer the bell if you hear it ringing. Greet your callers with some energy or with an up-beat message if you can’t take the call directly. Thank them for calling and promise to get back to them promptly.
Adjust your attitude. Remind yourself that your job is supposed to be challenging at times, and your success can depend on your skill in dealing with uncomfortable situations.
Be a person others can trust. That oath you take on the witness stand says it best: Tell your prospects, fellow agents and customers “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God.” There are no exceptions and no apologies.
Practice daily. Run through “what-if scenarios” whenever you find a few moments to spare. This will help eliminate unnecessary snafus.
Act your age. Take responsibility for your actions. The buck stops with you. If you’re the best, be the best. Never play the blame game with your suppliers or your customers.
Study. If you don’t feel comfortable doing something you need to do, get comfortable. Learn, read, practice and rehearse. Then read some more (non-fiction, please).
Focus. Look people in the eye when you’re speaking with them, and answer their questions until they comprehend your ideas. This isn’t always accomplished on the first pass. When they start nodding their head in agreement, take this as a sign that you may be losing them. Remember to double-check that your clients understand what you’re saying.
Deliver, plus one. Give your customers more than they paid for. Ice cream sundaes are remembered for the cherry on top. What you do after you’ve finished will position you as something special in the minds of your clients.Slow down. Speak slowly and clearly. Never assume that clients know what you’re talking about. Don’t be condescending, but don’t flatter yourself as being a good communicator either. Make certain that you and your client are on the same page.
Serve with energy. Bob Dylan said it best in his song titled “Gotta’ Serve Somebody.” Service is the name of the game today, and not just when we “feel” like it. When you get it right, people will notice and thank you.
There you have it. The secret to the next big positioning statement for your agency is going beyond the expected. It’s easier said than done, but easier done than starting a new business, having failed to accept my challenge. Work on these suggestions for the next few months and you will have more fun enjoying your exciting profession. Your clients also will be grateful to you for being as good as you are. @