Travel Insurance Information:
ARC = Airline Reporting Corporation IATAN = International Airlines Travel Agent Network IATA = International Air Transport Association ASTA = American Society of Travel Agents NACTA = National Association of Commissioned Travel Agencies CLIA = Cruise Lines International Association
Often, a travel agent will need to clarify a letter being spoken over the telephone. Whether spelling a name or reciting a reservation’s identification code, it’s good to use the industry standard phonetic alphabet for clarity. (For instance, the last name “Smith” would be spelled out as follows: S, as in Sierra; M, as in Mike; I, as in India; T, as in tango; H, as in hotel.) Following you will find the complete phonetic alphabet for your reference in spelling out names and codes:
|H||Hotel||Hoh-Tell (FAA, IMO, ITU), Ho-Tell (ICAO)|
|S||Sierra||See-Air-Ah (FAA), See-Air-Rah (ICAO, IMO, ITU)|
|Date||Name||Phone||Destination||Travel Dates||Quote Sent?||Follow-Up||Booked?|
|Within 24 hours of vacation inquiry||Respond to vacation inquiry with a phone call (and if no answer, with an e-mail).|
|Within 3 days||Follow up/send quote(s).|
|Within 7 days||Follow up/send quote(s).|
|At time of booking (or within travel vendor’s deadline)||Pay initial trip deposit.|
|At time of booking||Invoice transaction. If customer paid via cash or check, deposit customer funds. Submit necessary forms to agency account to initiate payment to vendor(s).|
|10 days prior to final payment due date||Send reminder to customers of final payment amount and due date.|
|30 days prior to vendor’s final payment due date||Collect customer’s final payment.|
|10 days prior to vendor’s final payment due date||Pay vendor (or submit agency’s form to initiate payment to vendor).|
|15–30 days prior to travel||Secure vendor’s travel documents for travelers. Verify all details are accurate. Verify flight times and details. Schedule meeting with travelers to review final trip details and documents.|
|Day before travel||Verify flight times have not changed.|
|1–5 days after traveler returns||Call travelers to inquire how the trip went.|
|Ongoing||Stay in touch with customers. Send sample trip ideas and deals.|
Glossary of Travel Terms
Travel consultants have travel experience, with personal visits to most areas of the world. We know the ways to find you the best value for your vacation. Each of us has a passion for travel, and we look forward to helping you plan the vacation of your dreams or making sure your business trip goes as planned. We plan vacations every day and stay on top of the changing popular destinations. Travel agents are vacation experts. We are familiar with resorts and packaged tours, and we will secure the best vacation value for any traveler’s budget. Whether you are planning a magical vacation to Disney, putting together a destination wedding, or setting out to make family memories with a fun-in-the-sun vacation, a travel agent will quickly assess the options and provide the best value.
Value: Travel agents can get you more for your money. We have access to many tools and systems, so we can quickly compare and research options to find the best value for travelers. Travel consultants also have access to specials and negotiated “extras” that enhance our travelers’ experiences.
Knowledge: Travel consultants are informed, utilizing state-of-the-art industry training and communications and regularly visiting cruise ships and vacation destinations. Travel agents visit resorts, experience destinations and tours, and actively participate in ongoing training. We use the knowledge gained from these experiences to help travelers make the best choices and avoid disappointments.
Approachability: Travel agents are here for you. Over the phone, online, or in person, travel consultants are here to provide top-notch service to our customers. When you are on vacation, it is a great feeling to know that a travel agent has your best interests in mind and will assist with unexpected changes or delays you may encounter during travel.
Fun: Vacations are fun, so why not let the fun begin with the planning? Travel consultants know how to take the hassle out of planning your next vacation.
Meeting with New Clients
Once you’ve established contact and begun a relationship with a new client, you’ll want to take the next step of scheduling an in-person meeting with them if at all possible. Following is a list of pointers to guide you through this meeting.
- Ask open-ended questions. This will allow your client to fill in the blanks and give you a specific idea of his or her travel expectations.
- Ask professionally probing questions. Again, this will invite your client to really consider his or her needs and desires, and put those thoughts into words, which you will then translate into travel plans.
- Ask them to describe their best or favorite vacation. Your client’s response to this question will tell you a great deal about what he or she most values in a travel experience, which you can then apply to your own research for this particular client.
- Ask them to describe their worst or least favorite vacation. Again, the client’s input here will prove valuable to you, in showing you what to avoid when researching travel options for this client.
- Ask them what they hope to enjoy on this vacation. Do they seek sun and sand relaxation? Are they interested in an active (hiking, canoeing, mountain-climbing) vacation? Do they want to travel to expand their cultural knowledge? Do they prefer the perks of an escorted vacation? Use the client’s answers to these questions as a jumping-off point as you begin your travel research.
Travel Agents’ Words of Wisdom
Here, for your convenience, is a recap of the words of wisdom we gathered from experienced travel agents to help you get started.
- Share your own travel experiences with your clients, to get them excited about travel. Get to know the people you’re working with, and make an effort to see things from their perspective, so that you can match them with the products and travel experiences that are right for them.
- Show your passion for what you’re selling to your clients. Your excitement about the products and services you’re offering will be contagious, and your clients will be eager to share that passion, excitement, and sense of adventure with you.
- Pay attention to detail, and hone your organizational and follow-up skills. Take care of all the small details, correct any little problems so they don’t occur again, and keep an open dialogue with your clients even after they return from their travels. This high level of service will not go unnoticed, and will keep your customers coming back for more.
- Communicate clearly, candidly, and often. Not only should you never ignore your clients, you should check in with them regularly, and hold their hands throughout the entire planning process if the situation calls for it. Be professional, but don’t forget about the personal—communication and interpersonal skills will take you far in forming lasting bonds with your clients.
- Get your name out there! Connect with as many people as possible to build your client list, and network within the industry to make connections. Getting involved in your community will increase your exposure and your opportunities to meet new clients. So get out there!
- Stay focused. Choose an area of interest, study, research, explore, and become an expert. Once you’ve mastered the topic, move on to the next. Never stop learning.
- Take advantage of training opportunities. This is a great way to learn about products and sales tools, while simultaneously expanding your professional network.
- Listen to your clients. Really listen. Ask open-ended questions about previous vacations: what they liked and didn’t like, where they went, how they would describe the experience. Get them talking, hear what they’re saying, and then make the right travel recommendations for them.
- Find your strengths and play to them. Develop your own style, and master it, and show people why they should book with you over someone else.
- Stay current. Whether it’s industry-wide change, a cultural shift, or simply an updated technology, you should stay on top of it, roll with the changes, and adapt—but without losing that personal touch that makes your clients turn to you with all their travel needs.
- Understand your clients, and understand your products. Knowing which products mesh with which demographics and being able to parse and cater to individual needs will allow you to give your clients an experience that will resonate with them.
- Don’t prejudge customers who come to you with travel inquiries. Often a customer who doesn’t look like a “typical” vacation customer or someone who would have the means to travel first-class does, in fact, have both the resources and desire to spend their funds on a bigger vacation than you might initially anticipate. You need to keep an open mind in order to best serve your customers.
- Don’t impose your own vacation criteria or budget when working on ideas for a customer’s vacation. Clear your mind of your own vacation preferences and, rather, listen to the customer. Focus on the client’s words and travel needs, and then present ideas that fit what the customer is sharing with you.
- Do not fear failure. Break a big problem down into its smaller component parts and solve one piece at a time. If you make a mistake, learn from it, brush yourself off, and try again. Persevere in the face of uncertainty and possible failure—nobody’s perfect, and we all must learn from our mistakes, and always work to better ourselves.
- Make your customer the star of every encounter, while also demonstrating that they can trust you to fulfill their travel dreams.
- Earn your clients’ trust, and then keep it by working for them, listening to them, and truly helping them plan the vacation they want. Follow through and follow up, and your clients will know their trust in you is well placed.
- Know your numbers: The most successful travel agents take 75 percent more training courses than the average agent. If you have the opportunity to participate in professional training, don’t pass it up.
- Use technology to your advantage. Social media channels are a great way to communicate with clients and inspire them to travel, and an online bio detailing your travel specialties and experiences is sure to gain you attention—and clients.