Identifying the Ideal Client for your travel practice Who do you want for a client? This is a question we seldom consider. We are usually so happy to earn a new client we seldom stop to think whether THIS client is a good fit. Some clients will be better than others. We want to distill out the characteristics of our best clients and figure out what they are all about. Perhaps we can thereby find others just like them!
A good marketing strategy will undertake the development of an ideal target customer profile. In reality, you may have more than one "ideal" client, often separated into age groups. So in the exercises below, don't be too rigid in your development of a single ideal client, but do try to figure out what each good client has in common with the others.
If you cannot tell me who your ideal client is, go back to your USP and Mission Statement, your reason for being. You cannot determine who your ideal client is if you don't have a solid definition of who you are and what you do best.
Try this experiment, without hesitation. Imagine you are standing in front of a person you have just met. Imagine your new acquaintance looks you right in the eye and says "What do you do?" Right now, say out-loud what you do. Now imagine the person saying, "I didn't know travel agents still existed! Can you beat the internet?" Right now, say out-loud how you will answer the question. If you fumbled this exercise, start practicing with a partner or the mirror! You KNOW you will hear these questions continually. Have a prepared, authentic, easy answer thought through so well it is muscle memory for you. Exercise: Write down the names of your best clients. These are almost certainly your most profitable clients. Next, write down WHY they are your best clients. What do you like about working with them? Are they appreciative of what you do? Are they coachable? Do they handle problems well? What is their age, their sex, their interests? How adventuresome are they? What destinations do they travel to? Segregate your ideal clients by ages: 20-35/ 36 - 60/ 60+ because you are likely to have several different categories of ideal clients and age often is a way of easily segregating them for purposes of analysis. If you can figure out what your ideal client looks and sounds like, you can more easily start seeking them out! Exercise: Write down some of the worst travel planning experience you have had. What caused the problems? Can you analyze root causes? What could you have done to prevent the problem or to have made it less severe? How well had your trained this particular client? Figure out what caused you problems, and begin to eliminate those factors from your travel practice. They chances are very good your introduced the problem by failing to properly train the client from the outset (See the first page of this course). Naturally, there are also clients who are inherently problematical. Give them the address of the agency down the street.
Attracting the Ideal Client Based on your analysis of your best clients, you now need to determine where they can be found. What attributes do they have that indicate their location? Do they like animals? Perhaps you should get involved with the local humane shelter. Do they have children? Perhaps you can show up at PTA meetings, school functions, church activities and other occasions conducive to meeting parents.
Now, think about the questions you know you will hear from your new acquaintances. Practice how you will answer them in a friendly, graceful and authentic way. Remember, even your best clients at one time needed your assurances, and so will your prospective clients.
Think about the concerns you have heard from even your best clients. For example, they probably entered into their relationship with you concerned about budgets and price. How did you manage to move the discussion to one of value instead? They were probably concerned about choosing a destination, a hotel, a cruise line. How did you allay their fears?
Finally, ask that list of great clients you now have for referrals! Tell them you want more clients just like them and ask them for the favor of a referral.