How to Qualify a Travel Client: 8 Powerful Questions to Ask

As a travel advisor, you spend a lot of time crafting blissful itineraries, only to have your prospect ghost you or reply with a “thanks, but no thanks” kind of message.

Someone fills out your “contact” form on your website inquiring about a honeymoon to Tulum. You’re eager to start planning the details!

You map out the perfect romantic itinerary, send it off, and wait for a response. You wait (and wait some more) only to receive an email from the couple saying “Thanks, but we booked everything through Airbnb and Expedia.”

Owning my own travel agency has shown me how discouraging it gets!

In order to avoid disappointing experiences like this, it’s important you learn how to qualify a travel client; and coming up with a list of questions to ask potential clients during your first call with them is the best place to start. Questions that vet or “qualify” your contact. Having a travel agent client questionnaire handy will help guide you so you don’t forget to ask important questions.

But first, let’s look at what it means to qualify a potential client.

What Does “Qualifying” Mean for Travel Advisors?

“Qualifying” is a sales process that takes a look at the lead that popped into your inbox to see if they’re worth your time.

“But shouldn’t we follow up on every contact?” Of course! But this process means you take a birds’ eye view of your lead before engaging with them. Sort of like running a background test on them.

It sounds tough and sort of rude, but it’s a process every successful business owner uses.

You need to know things like what their vacation budget is or if they’re invested in choosing a high-quality hotel over a low-priced motel. By doing this, you save yourself the headache of wasted time. And since time is your greatest asset as a travel agency, you need to make the most of it!

Why Do You Need to Qualify Customers?

The answer is simple, to save time. But it goes deeper than that.

When you decide to work with a sales coach, you can’t just purchase a membership and hang out in the background. Rather, a good coach asks you to book some sort of discovery call with them first. This determines if you’re a good fit for the services they offer and if those services will benefit you.

When a potential client reaches out to you, they’ve already partially decided to work with you. The questions you ask can make or break your interview.

That’s why, like the sales coach, you don’t send your contract to a new prospect to sign. You schedule a call with them or create a comprehensive qualifying questionnaire to make sure you know their preferences and personality.

The more you know about your prospect, the more you’ll understand who they are and if you’ll be the right fit for each other. As you talk, your questions clarify things like destination preferences and whether they want all-inclusive or more DIY accommodations.

If you find out they prefer the DIY approach, but you only create white-glove, high-end experiences, you can say, “Thanks, but I feel like my friend is a better fit for you. She specializes in…”. Referring them to another advisor who specializes in the kind of travel they’re looking for makes sure you, your friend, and the client aren’t losing anything.

You’ve saved yourself a headache, and your greatest resource: Time.

How do you use sales questions to assess a potential client’s travel preferences?

Let’s find out!

How to Qualify Sales Leads and Prospects

The entire process of qualifying sales leads doesn’t take very long once you know what kind of questions to ask.

Here are some of the questions I like to ask as a launchpad for building a solid set of queries to help you weed out tire-kickers and those who don’t fit your ideal client type.

Be purposeful with your questions.

Match your questions to your client’s knowledge – don’t assume they know everything about Aruba because they chose to vacation there. You want to ask questions that inform them about their trip or give them a better idea of your knowledge on the destination.

Keep your questions relevant and simple, but also meaningful.

Know the difference between you and other agencies. What do you offer that they don’t? How are you better than them?

This brings us to determine who you want to work with.

Know your ideal client types.

It’s important to identify your ideal client. Who do you love working with? What kind of trips do you enjoy planning the most? Asking yourself questions like these helps narrow down your ideal client to someone you can’t wait to work with.

Once you know your client criteria and the destinations you specialize in, it’s easy to decide which clients you should choose.

And don’t be afraid to say “no” to a lead. You’re saving their time as well as your own.

Learn how to explore goals.

A good introductory question on a call is: “What are your goals for this trip?”

This opens the door to find out more details about their dream vacation as well as preferences you’re better off knowing now rather than later (surprises are fun, but not this kind of surprise).

Your clients appreciate you digging deeper into their feelings to find out their expectations for the trip. It makes them trust you even more!

Good qualifying questions to ask:

Besides the normal questions of budget, time, and destination, you need to ask questions that cause your client to think. The harder your client has to think for answers to your questions, the more informed you’ll be when you decide if you’re a good fit for each other.

Here’s a list of critical questions you can ask to kick off a great qualification call:

  1. Ask about their goals. What do they want to get out of this trip?
  2. What inspired them to reach out?
  3. Have they had a bad experience with other agencies? If so, how can you make this a better experience for them?
  4. What is their biggest priority for this trip? (i.e. wine tasting, family time, etc.)
  5. What’s their usual process for planning a vacation? How has it worked for them in the past?
  6. If they decide to DIY their vacation, how will they do that? Will it give them peace of mind?
  7. What keeps them awake at night when they plan a trip?
  8. Who are the decision-makers in their group?

Use these questions as a starting point for you to personalize, but make sure the ones you come up with are always open-ended questions! Open-ended questions keep your foot in the door for more conversation and don’t leave room for simple “yes” or “no” answers.

The more purposeful you are in asking those good questions, the more trust you build with your potential client!

And that’s how you begin to exceed your client’s expectations…

Exceed Your Client’s Expectations

Most of your client’s expectations center around the quality you offer. That’s why using these leading questions is one of the best ways to boost your sales process from okay to excellent.

In asking a lot of questions, you’re revealing more about yourself, your business, and your knowledge of the travel industry. You’re a breath of fresh air for those who want to know what you offer!

Create an onboarding sales process that works for you. Make a list of every step of your process so you can explain it clearly to your leads. In doing so, you make it easier for a potential client to say, “Heck, yes! I want to work with them because they know what they’re doing!”

And if a client isn’t a good fit for you, they’ll appreciate and respect you more when you can say “no” by referring them to other travel advisors who specialize in your client’s needs. You can still build trust, even when you say “no”. Who knows, they may even come back to you one day!

These qualifying questions take time to hone, so don’t get discouraged if you didn’t nail it the first time. Take a step back, look at what worked and what didn’t, and change the things that need to be changed.

As always, we here at TIS are happy to help! If you haven’t checked out our other training, click here. Our premium content and training is available to members who are looking for a comprehensive, one-stop shop for every detail. If you haven’t joined, check out our memberships.

We can’t wait to help you get started on your path toward success!

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