18 Apr Ask These 5 Questions to Qualify Your Client
Part of the pride in being a top travel advisor is confidently knowing who you’re selling to. If a client comes to you asking for a lavish, once-in-a-lifetime experience for their birthday, you need to do a little investigative work to deliver on their wishes and make their trip unforgettable. Our job as travel advisors is to understand clients’ desires and where they are in life so we can match them to the perfect trip. If they live in Florida and frequently travel to the Caribbean on the weekend, a cruise to the Bahamas won’t feel all that special.
Qualifying your client helps you learn more about them as people and what they’re looking for. As you build your relationship, you’ll learn what they like and dislike and ultimately what will make them happy. So for your initial contact with a client, it helps to start with these key questions.
- When, where, how, why and who questions
This may sound basic, but starting with the general questions will make the job much easier. Establishing the main reason for traveling, who all will be going, for how long, how they prefer to communicate about the trip and where they want to go, will get you started in the right direction.
Age is important for a number of reasons. If there are children in the group, you’ll want to suggest kid-friendly resorts and activities. Your options for hotels and resorts may be fewer, but you’ll be able to rule out any adults-only stays. Additionally, if there are elderly clients traveling, you may be able to take advantage of applicable senior discounts.
For cruises, group size will determine cabin size, and vendors often differ on what they even consider a group to be, in terms of numbers.
Does your client prefer calls, texts or emails when talking about their travel plans? How responsive are they typically? Understanding their communication preferences before and how you can contact them during the trip is crucial.
- Questions about budget
This can be a delicate subject but it should be asked early in the conversation. It’s in your best interest to be clear about budget expectations. You want to deliver the best experience possible for your client and fulfill their dreams, so you need to know the budget you’re working with. Remember, you’re the expert in the travel industry, and you have the tools and knowledge to make a trip special on any budget.
Ideally you’ll pick this up as you speak with your client more frequently and get to know them, but it helps to understand whether a trip is a rare splurge or something they routinely do. This insight into their life can speak volumes in terms of what will impress and excite them.
- Questions about past travel likes and dislikes
If a client traveled to Scotland 10 years ago and found the cliffs and moors a bit boring, that’s good to know before you suggest a tour of the Scottish countryside. Probe a little into their past trips and ask what they liked or disliked about a particular destination. Ask what made their last 3 vacations special, and how you can repeat the experience. It’s always good practice to end with them reminiscing about an experience they enjoyed, rather than telling you why they were disappointed in a trip.
- Questions to gauge their expectations
Helping clients think through what they want out of a trip is essential to making your relationship successful. You can start practically with questions about how active they want to be on their trip: Would they prefer a balance of day and evening activities? Do they prefer to lounge by the pool all day and then discover the local nightlife? What types of activities are important for them to do as a family, and would they prefer any alone time?
- Questions about travel dates and flexibility
Establishing their ideal travel dates is essential, but finding out their level of flexibility is also important. Are they willing to change dates to accommodate better weather or take advantage of better pricing? Small calendar changes can make a big difference for both. You’ll also want to ask about any special dates to consider and plan around – a milestone birthday, an anniversary, etc. – so these dates are open for celebrations and not spent on a plane or disembarking.
It goes without saying that once you have answers to these questions, you should do your best to remember the preferences and expectations laid out by your client. You’ll be able to recommend more of what they want in the future, and make their experience with you more concierge-like. When your clients feel understood and appreciated for their tastes, they’ll always take your call.