Sponsored – All That’s Old is New Again as a Travel Professional
28 days. Alone in an eight-by-ten box for nearly a month. Who deserved this terrible punishment? My 9-year-old son, Nicholas. Yep, 672 hours in the hole for being exposed to Covid, twice.
Written By: Chad Burt, Co-Owner – OutsideAgents.com
Covid and Travel Professional
The fact is we use confinement to punish people. Covid has been punishing all of us for over a year. We want our freedom, and now, with vaccination rates surging, we’re going to get it. Just like our clients, we are ready to be free! Now, all we need a sign, a reason to believe it’s okay, from someone we trust. We need a hug.
Be the hug.
Look, we are social animals. We evolved to be interdependent. In good times, we want lots of people around us since there’s plenty for everyone. In crisis mode, though, resources are scarce, so we only want a few trusted people around. As we emerge from the crisis, we need to be among the trusted few. By definition, giants, like the OTA’s, can’t be among the trusted few, so we must do what they can’t. We must deliver that human touch, that hug we all crave when we’rescared. But, how?
- Make time through automation
- Do and share!
- Be authentic.
Make Time Through Automation
I don’t want to jinx anything, but, the surge has started. March and April of this year were the best months in our 29½ year history! As the stampede accelerates, you’ll have progressively less time to invest in your clients be you manage and optimize your time now. Remember, it takes time to be human. Technology shouldn’t save you time. It should allow you to reallocate it from menial to meaningful pursuits. Automation can take care of payment reminders, welcome home emails, collecting payments, promoting groups, and all that good stuff. In fact, this functionality is so important we include it for all of our agents. You can do it many ways, just be sure to do it. That way, you can spend the personal time with your clients they deserve.
Now that you’ve made time, it’s time to focus on being human, on being one of the trusted few. Start with a simple note.
“You’ve got mail!” I’ll admit it. I’m old enough to remember being excited to get an email. Now, I delete them by the page. When I see an actual handwritten note mixed in with my junk snail mail, though, I eagerly rip it open, thinking,“Handwritten…must be from someone I know! It’s important!!!”
In the age of automation, though, we all know thank-you emails are auto-generated, and robots read the surveys we complete. We all can spot handwriting fonts from a mile away. And form emails…what is this, Mad Lib? Miss me with that junk.
Still, for the most part, we appreciate the thought as much as the effort that we put into it, which isn’t much. The kicker is that failing to do the automated stuff will make you look like a slacker. That’s why we’ve invested so heavily in automated and triggered client–facing communication systems, a massive content library, and all the mentoring an agent can want, so agents can check that box and really focus on their clients.
You see, when we’re trying to be one of the trusted few, we need to do more. We need to show our clients that we value them so much that we invest our time in them. Show them we took the time to actually sit down, find a pen and paper, write a note, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail just for them. Seriously, who doesn’t say “Awwwww” when they get a handwritten note these days?
So, what do you write?
It doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, less is more. Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” so try something simple like:
Hey, how have you been? This Covid thing has been crazy for everybody, and I just wanted to check in to see how you’redoing. How’s the family?
We’re all fine, but I thought homeschooling was going to drive us nuts before they went back…lol. Travel’s bouncing back like crazy, too, so that’s another blessing. In fact, we’re going to Mexico in July!
Anyway, let’s catch up soon!
Do you see what we did there? We called them by name, mentioned personal details, mentioned travel is booming, asked them questions to start a conversation, set the stage for a call, and signed it as a person rather than a business. We didn’ttry to sell them anything. We just reminded them that we’re among their trusted few, and we happen to be in travel.
Yes, pick up the phone! Who even answers their phones these days? It doesn’t matter. The point is that your client saw your number and your message. They may have even heard your voice. If they did, they might even call you back. Oh no! What then? Simple. Listen.
Remember, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is key! Hear what they’re saying. Ask questions to make sure you understand your clients. Asking questions also makes your clients feel important.
Since we spend less time on the phone than in the past, you must make every second you’re on the phone count. You’lldo this by listening intently and avoiding these bad habits:
- Inattention often comes from the fact that we listen faster than people speak. Our mind gets board and wanders off. Be conscious of this and avoid it. Instead, use the extra “brain space” to think of questions related to what you’re hearing.
- Faking focus will get you in trouble every time. Being distracted makes it difficult to listen. Either way, you always miss that one piece of information you needed the moment you’re not paying attention. If you’ve ever been married, or gone to school, you know that already. Make the conscious choice to focus.
- Interrupting or finishing sentences is a clear sign we’re not listening. Remember that silence is golden for listeners. Pause after the speaker finishes to soak in what the speaker’s saying, subtext and all. That pause is a clear sign we’re listening, and that we care. It’s the sign that you’re among their trusted few.
- Not asking questions leaves people wondering if you’re engaged with what they’re saying and understanding them fully. Be sure to ask questions about what they’re saying so that you understand them completely. Also, asking questions reassures people that you’re engaged and connected.
In a nutshell, pay attention!
Do and Share
We mentioned that we’re social animals, rather than just saying we’re social, for a reason. Animals act on instinct and basic emotions, such as fear and pleasure. They tend to follow others as they avoid fear and seek pleasure. Think of a stampede – one creature moves, and the rest rush to follow.
Now, humans are amazing animals, and we certainly have higher orders of reasoning. Fundamentally, though, our behaviors are driven the same way. We flee fear and pursue pleasure, in that order. With this in mind, we need to start the travel stampede. How does a stampede start? One member of a group starts moving, and the rest follow. For you, this means being the first to move, the first to take a vacation, and letting everyone see you do it. They will follow, stampeding past their fears towards a vacation of their dreams.
You need to do and tell. Trip it and pic it. Vacation and conversation. Travel and share. Share pics from client trips. Share trips you’re planning. Make a booking and post! Post as you’re planning. Bottom line: do and tell! It’s that simple.
To make this easy and quick, OutsideAgents.com created an entire social media marketing platform for our agents. We offer an entire library of templates, images, hashtags, posts, and customization tools so agents can post professional–grade content from their own journeys, and those of their clients, in minutes. Agents using our new platform have already seen a 31% boost in quote requests than agents that aren’t. Think that through…that’s a massive jump.
The bottom line is that we’re social animals, and we tend to follow the trusted few. So, take a trip, take pictures, and post like your livelihood depends on it, because it does. Be sure to post everything – from planning to preparing the vacation itself, to the return, the unpacking – as you do it, it’s far more engaging to clients. Encourage clients to post and link or send you pics of their vacation by offering them $50 off their next trip! Whatever you do, get everyone involved. The more movement we see, the more likely we are to follow.
Ultimately, you need to make the “sacrifice.” Take a trip and share it. It’ll start that stampede we all need.
Be Authentic in Covid
Authenticity is, now more than ever, essential. When we’re scared or nervous, any little thing that seems amiss makes us even more uneasy. Think of how jumpy you get after a scary movie and, as you try to sleep, you’re startled by every tiny little noise in the house that you normally tune out. You’re hypersensitive. This hypersensitivity is particularly acute when it comes to something being amiss, or inauthentic, with a person. Have you ever noticed when a friend was just a “little off?” Bugged you, didn’t it? That’s why authenticity is so important right now. We’re all a little jumpy as we emerge from the crises. All we really want is a hug, a connection, with someone authentic, someone we trust. That someone is you, the actual you, the authentic you.
Resist the urge to change your branding or your message. Be unapologetic. You don’t need to apologize for the Covid time. Have fun. Show people you’re having fun travelling and planning travel. Let them see candid pictures of you laughing uncontrollably on a beach. Let them see you dancing like nobody is watching. Let them see themselves through your authentic experiences and you’ll deserve their trust.
Be Their Hug in Covid time
So, you’ve used automation to create time. You invested in your client by calling, writing, listening, sharing, and leading. You’ve done it from the heart, and you’ve earned their trust. You’ve become their hug, that thing that makes them feel safe and comfortable. Now what?
Hug ‘em! For crying out loud, hug them by getting them what they want. Go get your clients that vacation they’vewanted for over a year now. Show it to them, and they’ll buy it. Why? Because they trust you, and you deserve their trust.