This is the content I had planned on delivering to the Third Graders at Atha Rd Elementary yesterday. Instead I asked a lot of questions and let them ask a ton of questions. Some of their questions gave me ideas for a new blog or two. Sit back and enjoy my now modified for more adult reading (not THAT! This IS a family blog you know!)
Each and every day changes so much, there is no ‘normal’ day!
I usually start out my day by checking my emails. (Actually, I check them all day long – especially when I have someone traveling. Every time that DING happens, I grab a quick look at my phone.)
My ‘normal’ email load in the mornings are supplier emails. Suppliers are who I book trips through. They could be Disney, Universal, Cruise lines, or any other Touring Office (TO)
These are generally ‘sales’ or advertisements; letting me know about what their new promotion is, or telling me about a new training or FAM coming up. (FAM is a familiarization trip. Much easier to say FAM!) Training and FAMs are how I stay informed and educated on all the various destinations. Important tools in my knowledge toolbox.
Occasionally I have a client question or a quote request. These I answer first. Then after reading the supplier emails I file them based on the supplier that sent it. So an email from Disney would go into the Disney file, while an email from FunJet about a sale on Disney would go into FunJet.
The next thing I tackle is my calendar. I use a CRM (Customer Resource Manager) to keep track of all my clients. My daily workflow depends on where my clients are in the long process. This process goes something like this:
If they are requesting a quote we have a long chat (either by phone or email) where we get to know each other a bit. I ask a ton of questions so I can get a better idea of what exactly they are looking for. Things like: Where do you want to go? Have they ever been to this destination before? If so, what was their favorite thing about the trip? When they are wanting to go? What are the ages of their kids? I also try to find out what their budget is. Sometimes people don’t want to tell me this, because they think I will make the price I charge them exactly what they are wanting to spend. But actually, knowing this helps me to select the perfect vacation. I try to ask questions about previous vacations to get a better idea of the budget. It really does save me a lot of time if they would just tell me… I end the conversation with a brief bit about what happens next. I let them know when I will get back to them.
During the conversation I take a lot of notes. I put these notes in my CRM(Customer Resource Manager) Since all my files are electronic, the sooner I enter the preliminary info in the better!
Once I get all this info I start the quote. I take into consideration how they answered some of those questions. I do some research and then work up a quote. I like to give them a couple of options. (Especially if they were being secretive about their budget) Most of the time they need a few days to think about it, so I wait a day or two before I contact them.
At this point we generally go over each option with the pros and cons, and make a few revisions. Once we have what exactly what they are looking for, I collect the deposit directly into the supplier’s website.
Now, if it is a Disney trip, I help them sit up their Disney account, and give them a brief idea of what happens next, including a few important dates they need to remember. For Disney this will be their dining date, Fast Pass selection date, and their paid in full date. These dates also go into my calendar on my CRM (Customer Resource Manager). This calendar will pop up each morning to remind me that I need to touch base with them before each important date. At this point I send them an email with their confirmation as well as a reminder about the important dates we discussed.
So, going back to my daily routine, this is when I check my calendar to see what client needs something. In my CRM I have set up various emails for each important thing they need to be reminded about. I usually customize and send the appropriate email and then wait for their response. If it is something I need to have in order to complete my part of a task, I will send them a reminder a few days later.
I gave you three things that I usually touch base with my clients that are going to Disney, but what about the others?
Sometimes it may be a family traveling to another country. If I noticed they did not all have a passport (one of the questions I ask at the beginning), I will send a reminder to get their passport along with a link to the appropriate government website. Sometimes, I might remind them about the different types of passports and which one they need.
Sometimes I might send them some tips about their trip. I try to touch base at least once a month. It helps them to remember I am on their team and my only goal is for a wonderful vacation!
Let’s go back to the Disney clients for a few minutes. Remember I said they have three dates to remember? If it is their Dining date, then I am up and at the computer at 6AM to get the requested dinning. For Disney dining that means 180 days out from the day your trip starts! If it is their Fast Pass selection date, then that has to be done at the 60 days before your trip.
Those that are traveling within the next 4 to 6 weeks get extra attention from me. They may get a package with their travel documents, some reminders about weather, things to do, things to not forget, their itineraries and sometimes a surprise. Not everyone gets a surprise. It is only a small thank you gift!
(Uni lanyard, Disney autograph book)
Those going on a cruise for the first time have lots of questions. The last few weeks are very busy. Packing, Transportation, what they can take, what they CAN’T take, what to expect.
Based on the cruise line they have chosen, the answer to those questions will vary. The most stressful parts of a cruise are the first day you get onboard the ship (embarkation) and the day you get off (Disembarkation). I have found if my families know what to expect on those two days, the rest is less stressful. So I spend a lot of time with my first time cruisers, answering a lot of questions and explaining the process.
If they are flying (either to their destination or cruise port) one of my jobs is to make sure they have transportation to and from the airport. I use trusted suppliers for that. I have a list of suppliers that I would recommend to my own family. These are people I have worked with in the past, have a relationship with, and have excellent reviews. For instance in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, I use Remy’s Travel almost exclusively. I know that his small company treats my clients the way I would want my family treated. The owner is someone I talk with on a regular basis, and most importantly my clients all LOVE him!
My job doesn’t stop there. I’m on call 24/7 while my clients are traveling. If there are any problems – they call me first. Most of the time, all I have to do is reassure them that everything is fine and explain to them what I am going to do to fix it and what they can expect next. But on those rare occasions where it is something major, I am ON it! My training and experience helps me know the answer (or at least where to find it!)
After they come home, I touch base with them again to see how everything went and to ask them to leave a review. Sometimes, something might have happened that they didn’t want to bother me with, but should have. I do what I can to remedy the situation. Sometimes a simple apology or acknowledgment helps.
Since 99% of my business is referrals, I ask for referrals as well as reviews. Not only on how I helped them (which is great) but also on where they went. I rely on clients to let me know about the specific resort or cruise they went on. It is part of the research I do to help me decide which resort to recommend to my clients. The little things can make a difference…some might find a resort ‘stuffy’ while others might like it. Knowing how each client felt about a particular resort helps me more than actually visiting the resort myself sometimes. As well as let me know how to better serve them next time!
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!