Customer is an individual with a unique set of characteristics who buys or uses tourism products and services. Customers have very different needs and it is a travel agent’s job to find out what these are.
Travel agentsare professionals who provide value by helping save time and money. They act as travel consultants, offering personal service for their clients. Clients who turn to a travel agent want the advice and expertise of a professional who
- analyses current promotions;
- explains the small print, such as cancellation charges and restrictions;
- makes recommendations on travel options;
- gets problems solved.
All sales are made through the sales conversation. The sales conversation is different from an ordinary conversation because it has an objective which is to sell the product. There are four stages or elements in a sales conversation, which are rapport, questioning, presentation and commitment.
Rapport is the relationship which is built up between the sales assistant and the client.
We question the client in order to find the type of holiday he or she requires. There are two types of questions which are open and closed questions. An open question begins with a W word. With these kinds of questions you can learn what the material and human needs of your client are. You will discover the material needs by asking questions such as “Who will be traveling? When do you want to travel?” human needs are catered for with what questions such as “What are your interests?”
When you have discovered your client’s needs you must then establish his or her priorities; these fall into four main bands. The first is people and deals with their special needs, the second is the place or destination. Thirdly there’s the question of price and fourthly is the period or dates when they can travel.
Before beginning the presentation stage always check the information and summarize the facts. Then present the holiday you wish to sell.
Match the client’s needs with the holiday on offer, and concentrate on the features, the facilities which the client requires. In order to make the product sound attractive and appealing, ideally suited for their needs, be selective.
Then once the client shows signs of commitment, of desiring to buy, you should stop selling and close the sale.
Package holiday mean that large numbers of holidaymakers arrive at the same time at the same resort, traveling on a holiday sold by the same tour operator. Because of this, the better tour operators employ full-time staff to live and work at their resorts during the holiday season. These employees are overseas or holiday reps. ‘Rep’ is an abbreviation for ‘representative’.
In large resorts, a tour operator will often designate specific duties to different reds. In this way the company may advertise for
- children’s reps to work specifically with groups of children aged two and over;
- transfer reps to travel with holidaymakers to and from the air port and the accommodation;
- club reps to take men and women between 18 and 35 out to local clubs and discos;
- ski reps, who are holiday reps at winter ski resorts.
Resort representatives are the first point of contact for holidaymakers at their destinations. They represent the tour operator, and aim to ensure the success of the clients’ holidays.
Representatives meet each party of holidaymakers on their arrival at the airport and accompany them by coach to their accommodation. Usually, they hold a welcome meeting soon after arrival to give the holidaymakers information about resort facilities and attractions.
Resort representatives arrange regular times to meet holidaymakers to make announcements and deal with enquiries and problems. They keep an information board, and often a folder of useful information, up-to-date. They may also arrange, book, and sometimes accompany excursions and sightseeing trips and arrange car or ski hire.
In addition to this they need to be available at almost any time to give advice, solve problems, and deal with emergencies such as loss of passports or money, illness, or difficulties with accommodation.
The completion of paperwork is an important aspect of the job. This involves keeping records and writing reports of complaints and incidents such as illness.
Representatives’ work is seasonal. Depending on the resort / country, holiday seasons may run from April onwards, October to January or January to April. Hours of work are variable. Representatives often work from early morning to late evening and at weekends and can be on call 24 hours a day.
A driving license is usually needed, as representatives need to travel between hotels or other holiday accommodation and may be responsible for a wide area.
As a resort representative you should be self-confident, with a pleasant, cheerful, and outgoing nature.
Tourism is a powerful and sometimes dangerous force in the modern world. Tourism can save cultures and the local way of life but it can also destroy them. Tourism can help to protect environments, plants and animals, but it can also damage them. So problems of ecology are very important nowadays.
Ecotourism is environmentally friendly and it also benefits local communities. Ecotourism is called responsible and sensitive tourism. Some tourist companies advertise jungle treks, scuba diving and other expeditions as ‘nature tourism’. But the popularity of these activities has caused environmental problems. Like mass tourism, mass jungle trekking can damage the ecosystem and the living and working conditions of local people.
Tourists only think of what they pay for food, travelling and accommodation. Nature for them is free. It is not so. The natural environment will be destroyed if tour operators and tourists don’t change the way of thinking.
Tour companies must provide travellers with a pack of instructions on how to behave and what to do to best preserve the cultures and places visited. The key factor in minimizing damage through tourism is to keep groups to a manageable size and then you can control how they behave. People now go on holiday to restore ancient monuments or clean up beaches. There are programmes to protect wildlife habitats in Kenya and Tanzania, to save the rhino, veterinary programmes and so on.
It is important to educate visitors so that they are sensitive to both the physical and the cultural environments of the area they are visiting.