Travel agent Norm Payne is a spirited ACTA member with a stellar reputation for solving impossible problems, an effective advocate for clients and industry. An advisor to Canada Global Affairs with more than 18 years' experience as a travel professor, he is a participant in several industry initiatives.
We converse with numerous people involved in planning and service delivery.
Tour operators, cruise lines, insurance companies, car rental agencies, airlines, resorts and so many more, all working in harmony to make a client’s trip go off flawlessly.
We look forward to these conversations to perfect a client’s trip and also to catch up with well-respected and trusted partners with whom a bond has been established.
I have made very good friends with hundreds of people around the world while planning trips for my clients or assisting those in a predicament. Truly, these are the people who make this business such a pleasure and it is of paramount importance that they be treated with utmost consideration, courtesy and goodwill.
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I often conduct an informal survey of how these wizards view us travel agents. Canadian travel agents are usually perceived as very knowledgeable, unfailingly polite, invariably well-prepared and are the only ones who know the phonetic code flawlessly. I have also heard that we are sometimes impatient and brusque, occasionally disorganized and sometimes needing more assistance to close a sale than should be expected.
Those first few seconds on the phone generally determines where the needle lands on the ‘happy to help’ meter.
Making a connection
To many of our suppliers, our voice is equal to a face, so being our best, politest most professional selves determines the outcome of a conversation that ultimately affects how a client’s trip unfolds. Find a unique way to instantaneously connect and relate with genuine warmth and the results will be assuredly amazing.
Impatient and demanding is how we are also sometimes perceived, and perhaps there are reasons not to be overly-enamored with a particular supplier. But the supplier agent on the other end is powerless to change some of those reasons for our wariness.
Nevertheless, that person is in a position to make things happen for our clients. Over the years I have found that the power of people to assist our clients is totally disproportionate to their rank – and there are countless amazing stories.
Always start with a positive tone, a genuine ‘please’ and end with a sincere ‘thank you.’ Acknowledge professionalism, appreciate co-operation, remember kindness and reward above-and-beyond assistance by writing the CEO an appreciative letter or sending a token of appreciation.
The importance of establishing exceptional relationships cannot be emphatically underscored. It is what consistently cuts the Gordian Knot.
If you don’t yet have a relationship with a supplier, there’s no better opportunity to start one than by constructively solving a problem where all sides benefit – especially the client.
To all our supplier partners, a thousand thanks for the countless ways in which you cheerfully assist us daily.