By Taz Bareham — 17 Sep 2013
At its core, forming a business relationship is much like forming a romantic relationship – it involves building trust, being considerate to the other party’s needs, and ultimately showing your worth.
Tour operators across the globe can use the principles of dating to charm their prospects into customers. There are 5 stages to this process…
Since most travelers are booking online, your website has to make a good first impression. In fact, 57% of all travel reservations are now made on the internet (StatisticBrain).
Since your website represents your business, it has to look and be professional. Make sure that it is visually appealing, filled with lots of imagery and videos, and contains information that answers all their questions.
Do you have testimonials of past clients? Or awards that you can display? Prominently display these on your most viewed pages to build a sense of trust with those who visit.
So, if you’ve intrigued them enough to contact you via email or over the phone, they will give you their details and put in an inquiry. This is good news! They’re happy to speak to you about your tour or activity.
The most important thing to remember is you have to be prompt in responding to them. If they’ve visited several tour operators like yours, then you want to be the first one to reply.
Your conversations with them will determine how compatible your tour or activity is for their personality and interests. Excite them with your descriptions of your tour – use adjectives that bring it to life.
Also remember to answer the FAQs without being asked to do so. For example, “we also offer pick up straight from your hotel.” These small details could be the tipping point to choose you over a competitor.
Now it’s time to get serious – you have to propose. From what you’ve learned about them through conversation, you can suggest the best package that suits them, or even custom-make one if appropriate.
Tour operators, give them as much detail as possible to make them feel comfortable and safe in your hands. For example, if your package includes arranging accommodation, let them know how many stars the hotel has, as well as whether the room will be air conditioned or not.
Also state how much they have to pay and what they will get with it. It needs to be absolutely clear what’s not included in the package. This will set expectations and avoid disputes later on.
If you’ve done such a good job with your proposal that they accept your offer, then congratulations! Now it’s time to make it official and get the booking process under way.
Provide a link to your booking site so that they can book immediately. If you don’t have a way of instantly allowing visitors to book through your site, then you’re adding an unnecessary barrier to purchase.
Ideally, you should be able to ask for a financial down payment so you can be sure that they are serious. Your booking system should allow you to apply a cancellation policy without having to do credit card charge-backs.
If you’re still without a booking software, consider the benefits. There are many choices out there, you just need to find what’s right for your business (for more on that, download our free guide to narrowing down your options).
Leading up to the tour, get organised and make sure that you have enough resources to deliver what you promised. Your aim is to make the experience so good for them that they’re willing to recommend you to their friends. After all, the last thing you want is a bad track record that hinders you from forming future business relationships.
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