(travel pulse) -- It’s the time of year to set goals and strategize for a successful New Year.
There has been a remarkable increase in the number of travel agents seeking training and educational opportunities, meaning that there will be more competition in niche markets.
For travel agents looking to capitalize on luxury sales or improve upon their already booming luxury businesses, travel advisors from the Affluent Traveler Collection (ATC), a marketing organization that serves uncompromising travelers, have provided tips to maximize selling efforts.
ATC member Charles Turner, president of Harrisonburg, Virginia-based Turner Travel said that advisors should give priority to servicing luxury travel inquiries.
“Don’t drop them in the stack with other requests,” Turner said.
Turner also says that travel agents should realize that clients booking low-cost vacations are never going to call for a luxury vacation.
“New leads for luxury vacations come from the luxury clients we have now—so take very good care of them and do it promptly,” he advises.
Turner also said that he focuses on bringing in new business.
“We gambled on the idea that we will be more successful attracting new luxury business than promoting luxury business,” he said. “It seems to be working; we are getting a steady stream of new inquiries/bookings, referrals from regular clients.”
Claire Bidlingmaier, senior director supplier relations and agency engagement for ATC agrees with the idea that agents need to shine for the luxury clients.
“Continuously delight and service your existing clients, they are the key to referrals for future luxury clients,” said Bidlingmaier.
“Don’t just book a trip, create an experience unique to each client,” she added. “Before they travel and when they return they will be your advocate with family, friends and co-workers.”
For those looking to find new luxury clients, Bidlingmaier notes that agents must be where they are; the local gourmet food store, the airport lounge, the restaurant that everyone wants to go to.
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals, either.
“It may seem obvious, but ask for referrals from like-minded clients,” said Ruth Rudnick of Travel Showcase.
Bidlingmaier also recommends agents know their stuff.
“You must represent the luxury industry,” she said. “If you are marketing low-cost cruise lines, airlines etc., you will not attract luxury clients. If you are not continuously learning and building your knowledge, you will not attract and retain luxury clients.”
Being professional means committing to your luxury clients.
“Anticipate every aspect of the travel,” said Bidlingmaier. “Know any issues before they do, and communicate, communicate, communicate.”
Luxury travel agents have to put together the whole product from start to finish and go over the top.
“Know your clients’ expectations and the product, sell with confidence,” said Rudnick. “Go above and beyond for the client.”