Name: Ethel Hansen Davey
Agency: Uniglobe Enterprise Travel Ltd.
Years as a travel advisor: 18
Annual sales: $500,000+
Product or destination(s) you specialize in: Mexico, the Caribbean, and North West Europe, but anywhere the client may want to go.
Describe your process when you first connect with a client who wants to book a trip. I find out as much as possible about the clients such as where they have travelled to previously, what they liked and did not like about that trip, budget, the length of travel preferred, mobility and dietary likes and dislikes. Having them talk about themselves as much as they like to glean these bits of information makes it much easier to find the right fit for these individuals.
What are your tips for finding new clientele? I talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime and tell them what I do and how much I enjoy it. I use Facebook to my advantage as well.
What are your tips for retaining clients? Good service! That’s the key.
What are your tips for closing a sale? Ask for it! If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Do you charge services fees? If so, why and how much? Not on packages, cruises, tours, etc. but I do on airfares that are net or only a very small commission. I am very upfront about that at the time of booking.
Why do you enjoy being a travel advisor? I guess because I love to travel so much myself. I can live vicariously through my clients when they visit places that I have yet to go to.
What is the most unique thing you’ve ever done to enhance a client’s trip? I have arranged a dinner with my relatives in Denmark and a personalized tour of the area where they live in order for my clients to have a real non-tourist “hygge” experience in the country of my birth. It was the highlight of my clients three-week trip.
What is the wackiest request you’ve ever received from a client and how did you handle it? My clients asked for Indian food and an Indian speaking guide on a trip to Cuba. It was difficult for them to understand that this was going to be impossible. I did e-mail the resort manager and received a lovely message back to let the clients know that if they spoke to the chef they would make every effort to make food that was to their taste but that it was not going to be Indian, and also that he was unable to find an Indian speaking guide for their day trip to Havana. The clients were pleased with those efforts and enjoyed the trip.
What do you consider to be the biggest change in the travel industry since you began your career as a travel advisor, and how have you adapted to said change? Commission cuts and the number of “outside agents” in the business who don't always have proper training to do the job professionally.
Anything else to add that could help support the sales growth of fellow travel advisors? Learn all you can about the business! Tour operators and tourist boards have webinars on a regular basis. Knowledge is the key; don’t try to fake it. Travellers these days are very knowledgeable and they will move on very quickly to another agent if you try to snow them. If you don’t know something, just be up front and tell your client that you don’t have that information but that you will be more than happy to find out for them. Your honesty will be appreciated.