When was the last time you did something that wowed your customers?
Group tours and cruises offer a level of service unmatched anywhere else in the travel industry. But if you’re not delivering “wow” experiences to your travelers, you’re missing out on the opportunity to convert them from occasional customers to loyal followers.
If you want to make a big impression on your customers, consider these five practices that will take your customer service acumen to the next level.
1) Anticipate people’s needs before they do.
Ten years ago, none of us knew we needed smartphones. But Steve Jobs did, and in 2007, Apple introduced a new piece of technology that would become a fundamental part of our daily lives.
You may not pioneer a new piece of technology, but you can be a pioneer in travel: Take your groups to great places they have never heard of, plan activities they never thought they would do, and solve potential problems before your customers even realize they exist.
2) Pay attention to detail.
Any travel company worth its salt should be able to get the big things right, delivering people to their destinations safely, on time and with all their belongings. But nailing the basics doesn’t make an impression on customers. Nailing the details does.
It’s the little things that make people feel special: the chocolate on the pillow, the bow on the package, the handwritten note. These extra touches rarely entail much more time or money. But they communicate that you care about your customers.
3) Price inclusively.
Nobody likes opening his or her wallets over and over again on vacation — that’s why all-inclusive resorts have surged in popularity over the past few decades. Cruise lines have begun to pick up on this trend and package specialty meals, drinks and activities into some of their fares as well.
One of the best ways to impress your customers is by delivering more value than they expect during the course of a trip. Include more meals, more drinks and more activities. And package all tips — including driver and guide tips — into the cost of a tour. You will have to charge more, but your clients will be happy to pay it.
4) Be accessible and responsive.
We live in the most technologically connected age in history, so there’s no excuse for being unreachable. Your customers have questions and need service at their convenience, not yours.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to do business with someone who is slow to respond to you. Make your clients feel special by promptly replying to their emails, returning their phone calls and taking time to talk with them until their questions are answered.
5) Own your mistakes and fix them quickly.
Many travel companies are experts in evasion: When things go wrong, it’s never their fault, and the customer has to bear the burden of fixing the problem. This might save them some money, but it’s no way to build a loyal following.
If you plan travel long enough, eventually you or one of your suppliers will make a mistake. When that happens, don’t deflect. Take responsibility, apologize sincerely, and then fix the problem quickly, even if you have to do so at your own expense. You’ll be amazed how much goodwill you can win by handling bad situations well.