As a professional travel consultant, one of the most efficient ways to grow your business is through referrals. But they don’t happen naturally. Sure, you might get a referral here and there, but if you want to grow your business exponentially, you will have to put effort in EARNING and ASKING for referrals repeatedly.
As you can see, getting endless referrals is a 2 step process, with the first step being EARNING the referrals. How do you earn referrals? By “wowing” your clients.
Here are some tips for wowing your clients:
1. Listen to them. Really listen. Sometimes, this comes from asking the right questions. For example, when I first spoke with clients, I had a few favorite questions like:
“Tell me about your best travel experience of all time.”
“Would you rather spend a long weekend in Paris, Las Vegas or on a quiet, tropical beach?”
“How often have you traveled outside the USA?”
“What is the priority of this travel experience?”
2. Their responses to these questions will tell you a LOT about who they are and what they will like as travelers. The better you can match your client with the travel experience that suits them best, the more likely you are to wow them.
3. Do things the online booking engines can’t. For example, I always created a beautiful, detailed itinerary for my clients. Make restaurant recommendations and offer to book reservations. Send an email to the general manager of each hotel in their stay and ask for VIP treatment. (This one works like a charm!)
4. Keep in touch with them after they book and before they travel. A lot of professionals think that once a client has made a deposit, their job is done. If you want endless referrals, this is a perfect opportunity to show your clients how valuable you are. Create a standard set of short emails you will send to them between the time of deposit and the time of travel so they realize you have not forgotten about them. You can send them an email on tipping guidelines, then one on packing tips, and if they are taking a cruise, send a few emails reminding them to check out all the shore excursions and to book early. You could easily systematize this process by identifying the pre-travel tips you recommend to all clients and set each one up as an email to be sent at a later date.
The second step in the process is to ASK for the referrals. Sometimes this means an outright asking and other times, it’s more subtle. Here are some tips for ASKING for referrals:
1. Send a welcome home card with a small gift. For example, if you have honeymooners as clients, send them a welcome home card that is delivered 5 to 7 days after they return. Include a $25 or $50 restaurant gift card. In the welcome home card, tell them you understand they might be eating in for the next several months while they pay off the wedding and you would like them to eat out on you. At the end of the letter say something as simple as “My business grows mostly by referrals. If you know someone that could use my services, would you please send them my way? I work by phone and email so geography is not a concern.”
2. Create a Keep In Touch Campaign. Map out your entire year of how you will make contact with your best clients on a monthly basis. Your goal should be to create a list of your best clients and then have some form of contact monthly. Contact can include via snail mail, email, the phone and in person. Here is a sample keep in touch campaign for 12 months:
January – make contact by phone. Ask them to share their vacation goals and you will stay on the lookout to make those happen.
February – send a postcard from your Cruise trip to the Caribbean.
March – Send an email telling them it’s not too late to book their summer vacation…and if they want to be ahead of the curve for Christmas, March is a great time to do it.
April – Send a physical invite to a client appreciation party you are having in May.
May – See your clients at your client appreciation party where you co op with your best supplier and show a great presentation on their latest developments in cruising.
June – Send an e-mail telling them about your favorite places to stay around the world (your own top 10 list.)
July – Send a happy anniversary card.
August – Make contact by phone.
September – Send a postcard from your Safari.
October – Send an email telling them about the newest and greatest developments in travel this year.
November – Send a Thanksgiving card
December – Send a Happy Holidays email.
3. Create a Billboard – Billboards announce things to people. You can announce that you love referrals in your email signature and voicemail, so that every time a client tried to connect with you, he or she is reminded that you love referrals.
There are a few great books on getting more referrals. Here are my 3 favorites:
Referral of a Lifetime, by Tim Templeton
Endless Referrals, by Bob Burg
Go Givers Sell More, by Bob Burg
Go purchase and read one of these 3 books, create a 12-month strategy for 2013/2014 and follow through. You will be amazed at your results after a full year.