3 Simple Steps to Client Acquisition Every Travel Advisor Needs to Know

Many travel advisors struggle with consistent client acquisition. 

It’s easy to get lost in identifying your ideal client avatar or only focusing on building a brand.

You end up feeling lost and burnt out from spinning your wheels.

There are three steps we here at Travel Industry Solutions (TIS) use to help our clients find their ideal clients and keep them.

In this post, we’re going to talk about our three tried-and-true steps:

  1. Attracting and retaining ideal clients
  2. Processes and Protections
  3. Authority and Brand

These three points go hand-in-hand and must go together in order to be effective to you as a travel business.

A lot of travel advisors have a disconnect between the importance of their brand, authority, and client acquisition.

People often think they need better client acquisition strategies, but the reality is your authority and brand are just as important as your acquisition strategies. 

When asked to rank themselves in all these points, travel advisors scored a staggeringly low 38% effectiveness. 

Let’s focus on the first two because once you have those down, the rest will fall into place.

Ideal Clients: Attracting and Retaining Them

It’s important for you to have an idea of the kind of clients you’d like to serve. Whether that’s busy families looking for a long vacation or high-end clients who want to experience everything.

Begin your travel business on the right foot by only working with the clients you enjoy working with. 

You get to be selective in your strategies by only working with the people who fit your ideal client. When you do this, you open a whole range of creativity and room to create a successful business.

It’s an amazing feeling to see all the pieces begin to fall into place from the results of your hard work.

But maybe you struggle with feeling insecure about your lack of knowledge in the travel world.

You don’t need to feel insecure.

You have skill sets from previous jobs you can use to increase your confidence as you build your understanding of the industry.

Are you an extremely organized person? Maybe you’re a supermom? You’re used to juggling multiple schedules and routines. That means you’ll do a great job at putting together itineraries or keeping track of your finances.

An organized individual is also good at staying on task with their client acquisition. 

Maybe you’re amazing with research because you worked as a real estate agent before switching gears.

You can use the detective skills you used in that line of work to sniff out the best places to send your clients.

Look at your skills. Almost every skill set you possess could be used to build a successful travel business that will exceed all your dreams.

When you use these skills, you pave the road to successful client acquisition too. Once those clients see how you work and value them, they’ll be only too happy to become loyal clients.

Focus on the right clients for you. Otherwise, you’ll end up neglecting other important things in your business while you focus on these bits and pieces from clients you don’t really want.

Start with your brand and your ideal client avatar, but don’t expect it to stay the same. Be open to change as you gain more experience and your life changes. 

This brings us to our second point:

Client Acquisition: Processes and Protections

In order to find your ideal clients, you need to have strategies in place for finding them, converting them, and keeping them as loyal customers.

These strategies include, 

  • Client outreach
  • Having follow-up email scripts in place
  • Mastering discovery calls
  • Creating an easy onboarding process
  • Making every step simple

Client outreach can be done anywhere, but a great place to start is in Facebook groups. Look for ones where people ask travel questions about destinations. Comment with helpful information using your business page so they see who you are and what you do. 

They might not reach out, but someone else could see your comment.

Another way to outreach would be through social media posts. Share travel tips or interesting bits of information on a destination.

Maybe you’re a new advisor and you’ve already established a social media presence. You’re talking to people, and leads are coming in.

What do you do after a lead comes in?

You need to have a process and protection in place. 

This means you need to have a strategy or an order for each lead that comes in. 

When a new lead comes in, your first step should be setting up a discovery call with them to make sure you’re both a good fit for each other.

The discovery call is one of the most critical steps in your client acquisition process. Take this time to find out if the prospect is right for your agency, and if your agency is right for the prospect. It’s also a time when you can interject some of your knowledge to show authority.

This is the time for you to stand in your genius and do what you’re good at. If you don’t have much experience or knowledge yet, don’t worry. Every advisor started out with the motto, “Fake it till you make it.” 

If you’re really worried about your discovery calls, take advantage of the resources available on TIS to help you prepare for them.

If you aren’t confident in your abilities in your discovery call, you probably aren’t asking the right questions. When you don’t ask the right questions, you end up spinning your wheels and wasting your time on clients who aren’t going to work with you and consequently won’t refer you to friends and family.

With our discovery call guides, you’ll find an easy step-by-step process explained so you can master discovery calls.

Sheila Folk, CEO and founder of TIS says about her first discovery calls, “When I first became an agent, I tried really hard to tell potential clients everything about me and why I was so wonderful. Your clients want to know about how you can best serve their needs, but there’s a time and place to tell them in your conversation.”

Once you learn the correct order and process of a discovery call, it’s time to decide if you’d like to have a planning fee in place. When you decide this, you’ll have to let your potential client know this must be paid before you can move on to the planning phase.

Let them know how long your proposal is good for and let them know a new non-refundable planning fee will be implemented if changes are made after that date. 

This is a way you can help your clients make quicker decisions.

If you don’t charge a planning fee, you could tell them any changes after 14 days will incur a fee because it’s eating into your valuable time.

Send an invoice for your planning fee but wait until it’s paid before you begin working on the trip.

You don’t want them to ghost you!

If they ghost you, that’s time spent you could be using elsewhere.

Make sure your process is easy for them in every aspect – signing documents, paying invoices, and accessing your itinerary.

The harder a process is, the less likely a client will be to proceed.

Another thing travel advisors worry about is not having experience or authority in the industry. On the contrary, you have more knowledge than you realize.

Here’s why we think this:

You’re More Knowledgeable Than You Think: Authority and Brand

business partners shaking hands agreement
Business partners shaking hands in agreement

“I don’t have authority,” you say.

Yes, you do

As we talked about in the Ideal Clients section, you have authority from your previous experiences.

You can also build authority simply by leveraging the power behind your suppliers. Speak to them about a destination. 

What’s there that makes it special? How can you make the trip unique for your client?

Know your suppliers so they can give you information that will help you build your authority. If a client is stopping in Barcelona during their river cruise, your connections with suppliers let you know if tours there book out ahead of time.

You don’t need to travel the world to be a niche seller. You only need to know three things, 

  • Geography 
  • Vendors
  • How to sell and market yourself

Educate yourself and learn specific destination details so you can speak with experience. Once you do this, you can sell any destination you want to!

You need to have faith in yourself as an advisor.

The most critical area to build authority in your brand is during your discovery call. We touched on calls already, but there’s much more to them than finding out about your client’s dreams.

The biggest step in building authority is listening during your discovery calls. Listen to what their needs are, what challenges they’re facing, how they found you, and what their vision is. Most people do hours of research before they call you frustrated with the amount of information out there. Listen to their frustration, then present your solution to their problem.

But don’t get so excited you rush into the planning and research phase. Remember, this call is only to see if you’ll be a good fit for each other, not to plan their vacation.

You need to be able to give them enough information to show your authority about yourself and your destination, but not too much that they run with the information you gave them.

Take the time to draw them out by listening to them.

Angela Hughes of Trips & Ships Luxury Travel shared this valuable tidbit during a recent call with Sheila:

“People buy you. They’re buying you as a person. Too often travel advisors try to just jump right to the sell and tell them everything they know to impress them. Instead of taking a step back to listen and then engage their authority to close the deal.”

If you want to a solid build authority and brand, listen.

As you can see, each of these points can’t happen without the other. 

You can’t find clients without building your authority and brand. And you can’t build your authority or brand without finding clients.

By following our simple steps, you too can find the success and freedom we’ve discovered. No more doubting yourself!

With TIS’s comprehensive training materials in our membership, you won’t have to second guess yourself ever again.

Sign up now to gain access to the help you’ve been looking for!

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