Owners and operators of travel and outdoor recreation businesses understand the beginning of every new year is the most important sales cycle of all. The drivers behind this annual surge in booking activity are numerous, and often the results can be the difference between missing or making the budget. Especially after a year where the best-laid plans were mostly upended, now more than ever, people are highly motivated to have their favorite vacation destinations confirmed on the calendar for 2021.
The bookings in this season can come from all channels, and as they pour in, it is critical for your team to maintain a very high level of service to the customers on your “A” list. Every business has “A” listers and these are typically your most loyal repeat clients, but they can also be first-time guests, who come by word-of-mouth referral (and not coincidentally mostly referrals by “A” list clients).
In a practical sense, the revenue of an average booking simply equates to the price of the package booked, no more and no less. But bookings from your “A” list customers should be looked at as recurring revenue. As your team provides the service these high-value customers have come to expect, one can reasonably count on their business many times over deep into the future. So, in essence, a routine booking of $5K for an “A” list customer, could easily represent just 5 to 10% of what that customer will spend over a 10-to-20-year period.
In so many words, the value of your “A” list customers is immeasurable, and while we are at the height of the sales season, here a few tips to keep top of mind:
Have All the Tools
Give your “A” listers all the options and make sure they can book how and when they want to. Many look forward to receiving your confirmation, and they will happily put their deposit check in the mail. Others will send an email or give you a call, but more and more people wish to book online. So if your property has not yet added an online booking tool, perhaps this is the year to finally do it.
Never Assume What They Want
It is easy to fall into a pattern of being confident that you know what your repeat guests want. If they always come for salmonflies, you may be doing what you always do, and holding their favorite cabin and guide for late June. But be sure to keep up the conversation and find what is new in their life. You may learn this is the year they want to host a company retreat or wish to bring the whole family together for a reunion.
Pick Up the Phone
Obviously if your phone rings, you are going to answer, and this time of year your probably of the mind to do it after hours and on weekends. Your “A” list customers are likely just as happy to take your call as they are to call you. If you have not heard from someone yet, give them a ring and let them know you are happy to hold their space.
Give Them the VVIP Treatment
If your standard is to treat every customer as a VIP, as it should be, then make certain to deliver more to your “A” list customers. They appreciate that you have always gone the extra mile, and this is the reason they trust and depend on you. The more they patronize your business, the better you get to know them, giving you more and more opportunities to personalize their experience and go beyond expectations. This is part of the fun in running your business, and the masters of this realm generate so many word-of-mouth referrals, they are able to rein in out-sized marketing budgets and drive more profit into the bottom line.