When it comes to persuading clients to rebook rather than cancel their vacations, money talks.
“I stress the advantages of rebooking, with hotels, cruises and others offering bigger credits than what the clients originally spent. Many cruise lines offer credits of 125 percent, and I show the clients they can book a better stateroom, or in one instance so far, a longer cruise,” said Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel.
“Before I speak with a client, I know what each company involved in their trip is offering and present those advantages to the client. I stress how long the offer is good for so that they can see how much time they have to be comfortable traveling again.”
Richard Turen of Churchill & Turen noted that suppliers offering 125 percent future cruise credits versus the “more standard 115 percent are having a stronger re-book impact.”
He added, “Once you get past the ‘financial stability’ issue, clients can see the difference between earning 25 percent on their money versus the 1 percent to 3 percent -they might be earning in a bank or CD account.”
For Cal Cheney of Bucket List Travel and Tours, whose clientele is 65 and up, cruise line incentives have helped even more than he thought they would have. “They want to cancel out of fear for their health, but when it comes down to it, money talks and incentives help,” he said.
As a case in point, Cheney said that he had clients who “were planning a river cruise to Amsterdam for the tulip festival and wouldn’t rebook for the same time next year until Uniworld stepped up with a cabin upgrade and a 120 percent credit.”
Because his clients are older, they “worry that something may happen to their health in the next year, so I remind them that if they have a health issue, that it may be covered and that the travel insurance will easily transfer over next year without added cost,” he said. “I also remind them that we were able to get a good price initially, and I doubt that we can match it in 2021 or 2022.”
Much like other agents, James Ferguson, a cruise specialist at Travel Edge said many of his clients have rebooked due to the attractiveness of the 125 percent future credit offers, adding that he has been advising clients that “rebooking now protects promotional incentives and pricing – in most cases.”
Not all clients, obviously, are opting to rebook their vacations. “I’m running about 50-50. The most challenging trips to rebook are FIT trips,” Schoeder said. “Some are for special occasions – a 50th anniversary, and two large trips booked before/after business trips. The clients were filling time with some leisure and they are less inclined to rebook the trips, as there is no guarantee the meetings will take place at a later date in the same location. Those have all cancelled.”
Cheney said nearly all of his clients initially wanted to cancel rather than rebook. “You definitely have to reel them,” he said. “Until we have a vaccine, it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
One major obstacle, he added, “is not knowing airline policies for things booked in August and beyond. I applaud United for giving everyone the month of May to rebook for up to two years from the date of purchase.”
James Berglie of Be All Inclusive – who applauded ALG’s 125 percent future travel credit, which he said has been great for his clients – noted the world is a very divided place right now. “Generally speaking, those who are experienced travelers are not hesitating to rebook, where first-time travelers or less experienced travelers are choosing to cancel,” he said.
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