Techniques, tools, and skills

The travel experience of your guests starts at the moment they start to plan the trip. You should consider the travel experience as a total of other partial experiences that go well beyond the arrival date. This is then the starting point of your selling process within your marketing approach.

Below, we will provide you with some selling techniques and tools as they can be deployed by you during the different phases of those partial experiences which eventually sum up to the whole travel experience of the customer.

Phase 1: Before travel and departure

Good pre-planning is essential in order to make the best out of the travelling and the tourism experience. You have to admit however that most guests simply don’t have the needed time to do this in an appropriate way. This is where your marketing and selling approach should jump in and just ‘do it for them’.

Techniques and tools
Create a simple, concise, custom e-guide, available online, including Frequently Asked Questions about travelling, baggage and customs issues, times and means to and from airports, harbours etc., the destination itself of course (suggestions, insights, testimonials, hard data etc.). Think of this guide as a tool for your customers to cover all their planning queries.

Phase 2: Leaving home

This is the decisive moment, when your prospect customer’s mind is set on travelling, vacation, the final destination. Try to picture the scene of her/him/them closing the house door behind and diving into the travel experience. Dedicate parts of your e-guide mentioned above, to open up a virtual dialogue with your customer, just as if you were travelling by their side as a guide.

Techniques and tools
Make your guide in a way to reflect the actual relationship between your services and offer and your customer. Avoid the standardized approach of generic guides. Avoid addressing your customer as undifferentiated audience.

Phase 3: Arriving at the destination and towards the facility

Depending on the nature of the destination, think of all that would make it easier for your customer once having arrived there.

Techniques and tools
If the destination of your customer before arriving at your facility or hotel is an airport, harbour, train or bus station, think of arranging for a car or other transportation means, or even a taxi. Furthermore, don’t underestimate the old-fashioned sign with the customer’s name on it.

Phase 4: Arriving at the facility

This is the moment of relief! People think of it in terms of arriving home, because your facility will actually be their home for the time ahead, and the so called ‘check-in’ process is the confirmation thereof. Many professionals in the tourism sector – from big hotels down to small facilities – think of this moment as the starting point of the marketing process. It is not!

 Techniques and tools

Don’t let the arrival moments as an experience get lost in the formalities. See the arrival experience through the eyes of the customer. Make the word ‘comfort’ your keyword here, because this is what you want your customers to feel.

Phase 5: The initiation of the customer to the new environment and their destination experience

This is one of your moments of truth, since you can really start influencing the experience of your customers during their stay at your place as they start immersing into and experiencing the local social and cultural environment.

 Techniques and tools
Your goal here is to turn the traveller having just arrived into a guest not only of your facility, but also of the destination as the customer’s new ‘habitat’. For example, a welcome kit could be developed ready for use, but in this case take the time to do the extra mile. Be innovative in suggesting alternative ways to experience the stay in your place and the surrounding city or area. For example, you can explore the possibility of collaborating with locals to arrange visits, dining, site-seeing. This would allow for a more intimate cultural encounter and the creation of lasting memories. This practice is often associated with community-based tourism, so you might like to check some aspects that you could consider using, by learning more about community-based tourism here.

   After-sales management

The moment your customers leave doesn’t signal the end of the relationship with them, just as the moment of their arrival doesn’t signal the start of your relationship! If everything went smooth up to this point, returning back home should eventually feel equally comfortable. Think about it!

Your customer travels back home and she/he will be answering lots of questions to friends, family, colleagues for days: ‘Was it fun?’; ‘Where have you been?’; ‘Where did you stay?’; ‘How was it?’ and so on. So, you had your chance to influence the experience of your customer long before their arrival at the final destination. The very last day or couple of days is your last chance to reinforce all that went well and minimize if possible all the negative aspects of the experience. Remember that we as human beings tend to remember vividly first and last experiences, while for the last experience, in case it turns to be bad, there is no time for corrective actions really. So make sure that the last experience and memories are really good ones!

 Techniques and tools

Make the best out of the day after! You can do a lot of things towards keeping up your relationship with your customers. Remember the difference between promotion and branding; the brand is about ‘loyalty’. Your customers should feel as part of a community even after they have left the premises of your facility. Ask them for contact details, but try to go beyond the usual newsletter circulation. Try to send personalized messages like a distant relative maybe. Send an e-mail, or if you have contact through social media outlets you can post messages like for example ‘Hi Jean and Dean, remember the restaurant in the next corner by the sea-side? They expanded it with a lovely deck reaching well into the sea! See photo! Cheers!’

In case you have arranged some special activities during the stay of your customers (e.g. with locals, other customers etc.) you can arrange for them to send some greetings or some special photos taken at the time.
Try to get some testimonials from your customers and get their approval to publish them online. This is one of the most powerful marketing and selling tools. Professional aspects – offers, new services etc. – should be communicated as well, but for the day after, you should really look into sustaining the pleasant memories, because this is the value you offer after all!

If you want to be extra professional in the after sales management, you can try and use some kind of the customer relation software (CRS). Some CRS solutions are free of charge and they are not very complicated to use.

Top 10 free Customer Relation Software Top 10 free Customer Relation Software (in English)