Providing memorable, meaningful experiences keeps travellers coming back to you for more.. Time and information are key. Clients expect time consulting with you as integral to their personalised travel purchase experience. And detailed info – gleaned directly or via digital data – takes time to collate. Manage your time right and you can find opportunities here to rise above the competition, with the right processes in place. After all, you’re not just after a sale, right?
Give them what they want
There are ways to get the info you want in order to give travellers the personalised experience they want. Technology provides multiple ways of garnering traveller data: social media, email campaigns, transactional data, customer search and analytics, surveys, online reviews.
Together with face-to-face interaction, tech helps serve up a wealth of customer preference data that paints a picture of what travellers want and don’t want – and this includes the entire customer journey.
It’s about more than travel trends and popular tourism destinations, activities and events.
There’s a host of boring but essential details that glue an experience together. This is the kind of nitty gritty that travellers don’t want to be bothered with – one good reason for paying you to do it for them. After all, the element of surprise is meant to be pleasant!
It’s bad form recommending an activity, for instance, with the client turning up with no more than a credit card, only to learn it’s a cash-only establishment (or vice versa). This detail may be less sexy than the safari you’ve booked or the optional wine-tasting you’ve recommended, but if that was me (as a firm believer in cash), I’d be sorely bummed to arrive and discover too late that I can’t participate in the activity I was so looking forward to. It’s the kind of thing that can make or break a trip, or become the thing I remember most of my trip.
Beyond addressing the detail in your planning, you also want to communicate it in trip proposals and travel docs. Where that detail lives once you’ve acquired it, is super important because you must get your hands on it quickly to be efficient.
If the brand fits, sell it!
They rely on you to know the hot spots and to sell the dream, but they also expect you to guide them to better, more suitable choices. The more detailed your proposal in terms of special interests and needs, the more secure the match between the traveller and your brand.
So you specialise in a particular type of experience, but how much attention do you give to personalised detail?
3 Enquiries for an eco-friendly escape from different traveller types should result in 3 different proposals. One party might be elderly or disabled with mobility issues; another might be a couple with a romantic, kid-free preference; a third party might be a solo-travelling health-and-fitness freak.
You (or someone in your team) will know exactly which of your suppliers offer sustainable experiences with disabled access and comfort animals allowed, which allow kids under 12 years, which offer superior spa facilities with zero single supplement. These kinds of inclusions and exclusions, matters of access and proximity to transportation, can disrupt the flow of a trip if they’re not factored in.
You also need to represent an experience honestly, even if it means advising a client against something they’ve requested, especially if you have more suitable alternatives. Organise this type of info for efficiency, to be easy to search and find.
In the mood for food in the hood?
For every palate, dietary requirement and curiosity, you’ve got preferred restaurant products or dining options to incorporate into client itineraries. Apart from the fact that culinary tourism is hugely popular at the moment, food as a creature comfort can either enhance the traveller’s leisure if it ticks the right boxes, or leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Sometimes asking is enough – they’ll specify their foodie interests, dining preferences or inclinations. Whether it’s local gastronomy or familiar international cuisine, fine or casual dining, your job is to point them in the right direction so they don’t waste time in-destination looking for places to eat and risk ending up somewhere they don’t fancy.
Travellers requiring vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, halaal, kosher or gluten-free meals often struggle to find suitable options. So search, identify and label the experience by cuisine, ambience, facilities, price and suitability.. Does it have a bar, a kids’ play area, live entertainment? Tag it! Do your research every so often to keep the info fresh, keep notes from every site inspection and educational, then make it quick and easy to locate right when you’re building those personalised itineraries.
That’s a lot of value added with a little time and labour invested.
Not all activities were born equal
When the daughter of a friend realised they were visiting a town in South Africa that offers shark cage diving, she couldn’t wait to do it. They booked the activity and was happy to discover the weather was fine upon arrival, and there’d been some good shark sightings prior to their visit.
Despite paying full price for the experience, they only learned upon boarding the boat that at age 10, the girl would not be permitted to do the dive. No scam, just a safety regulation, but bad communication leading to an uninformed choice. The child sulked for 2 days and the mother was annoyed that she hadn’t spent such a hefty portion of their activities budget on something more fun for her daughter.
The perfect itinerary looks great and promises all-day fun, relaxation and adventure, but sometimes travel products become unavailable or they are simply inappropriate to the client. You can raise your hands in the air and say, “I don’t control the weather, climate change or politics!” and leave it at that; or you can proactively advise clients where tourism is affected by climate, seasonality and social unrest.
When you’re working on a proposal and need to send it quickly, you need to know if your preferred accommodation is closed for renovations. You need quick access to info about age appropriateness, physical risk factor, weather-dependency and special interests – from general (client loves animals) to niche (client supports penguin rehabilitation). When you organise your preferred activity products in this way, you can flag items, add any urgent notes and clarify how to sell them best.
The role of accommodation suppliers
Obviously you can’t constantly traipse across the globe on site inspections, although that sounds lovely. First-hand experience is first prize but in its absence, you need thorough, up-to-date info from your suppliers.
- Do they have any construction work happening on their premises?
- What traveller types are they best suited to (because being all things to everyone is hard to impossible)?
- What additional experiences are available nearby and how easily accessed are they?
- What languages are spoken on-site?
- What about malaria?
Trust me, no one travelling in summer wants to arrive at their guesthouse at the end of a hot day’s excursions to find the swimming pool closed for maintenance, despite glistening pics of it splashed across the website. We always want to sell our clients an honest bill of goods. Speaking of sales, price is a determining factor for most; so it helps to have BAR pricing and commission info close by when creating proposals.
Your company has a brand reputation associated with certain levels of luxury, determined by cost and service excellence – you want to be able to quickly identify the room types you need based on what’s available for the size of your client party, according to their personal tastes.
When you can rate your preferred accommodation products, it just makes it so much easier for anyone in your team to dip into your collated, organised mess of supplier info to select the right product for the right client.
Everything you need included in one safe spot as you’re building an itinerary makes life easier but also ensures consistency across the multitude of proposals sent out daily by every consultant in your company.
Supplier fact sheets or any company docs you usually attach to itineraries should be right there, easy to add when needed.
There are plenty of arguments for organised travel content and supplier information – saving time, optimising resources, making life at work easier.. The greatest value to travellers must be receiving personalised itineraries, produced fairly swiftly with detail that speaks volumes. It communicates that your product knowledge is thorough, that your expertise can be trusted because you’ve literally thought of everything, and that you’ve paid close attention to them.