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Chapter 11 Follow-up procedures.

OBJECTIVES

After studying this chapter, you should be able to:

* Describe the two most popular methods of follow-up used in the tourism industry

* List four advantages of doing your follow-up by telephone

* List five points to be covered in a follow-up telephone call

* Describe follow-up procedures for each of the eight sectors of the tourism industry

* Explain the importance of asking for referrals

KEY TERMS

head them off at the pass

ecotours

captive audience

guest comment cards

STEP 12: FOLLOW-UP PROCEDURES

Follow-up is the most neglected part of the sales process in the tourism industry, and yet it can be the most rewarding and fruitful. As with selling-up, the most effective methods for follow-up vary from one sector of the tourism industry to another.

For adventure and recreation packages and most types of tours, the salesperson should contact the customer within a week of his or her return, preferably the second or third day after the return. Customers are probably too tired and busy to be bothered the first day. After that, the sooner you contact them, the better.

Clients can be contacted by telephone or by mail. Follow-up by mail usually consists of a welcome back card with an evaluation form regarding their trip and a postage-paid return envelope. The welcome back card is good for public relations, but I believe there are important advantages in doing your follow-up by telephone:

1. It is more personal.

2. You can evaluate the reactions of your client personally.

3. The amount of feedback you receive will be significantly increased.

4. It is less expensive and faster.

When you are preparing the customer's package, be sure to note in your calendar the date your client(s) will be returning. When you present them with the ticket package, mention that you would like to call them after they get back to hear about their trip. Customers will usually be quite pleased that you are interested in their trips after the sale has been closed. If they approve, ask them when it would be convenient. Try to obtain a range of times to make it easier to fit into your schedule. Then mark your preferred time and date on your calendar. If you find at a later time that you will be unable to call them between the designated times, phone ahead of time.

If it is convenient for both you and the customer to conduct the follow-up call at that time, do it then. If not, reschedule the call for a time that is mutually convenient. Some weeks can be unpredictable, but usually you can tell which days and particularly which times of day will be less busy than others. By scheduling your follow-up calls, you are more impelled to do them. Calling customers at times that are convenient for them will usually ellicit more information.

Prepare a prompt sheet with the questions you wish to ask and space for the answers you will receive. (See Figure 11-1.)

Follow-up Sheet

Outline of Points to Be Covered

1. Welcome back--clients are usually pleased that you take the time and interest to contact them after their trip.

2. Make sure you have called at a convenient time.

3. Did they enjoy their trip? Your returning customers can be your best source of product knowledge. The information they give you is right up-to-date and from the customers' point of view.

4. If there were any problems, it gives you a chance to "head them off at the pass." It is better that you approached the client first, rather than let the problems fester to a boiling point and have the client burst into the office when you are busy with other clients. The worst scenario is that they might never tell you about their problems but tell everyone else with whom they meet and never return to give you a chance to rectify the problem or make another booking.

5. On the way back from a holiday, most clients like to look ahead to their next trip. Ask your clients if they have thought about their next trip. Find out approximately when they would like to go and mark it down in your calendar. Find out if there is any information that they would like you to send to them about their next destination. Determine when would be the most appropriate time to send them the information. Mark this down in your desk calendar. A few days after you would expect that they would have received it, mark down on your desk calendar to phone them to see if they have received your package. This would be your opener to discuss if the information was of interest to them and to start the qualifying process over again for their next booking. Forward promotional materials to the customers with plenty of lead time to confirm their next booking. Follow-up with a telephone call several days after you would expect the client to receive your mailing piece. Determine whether the client received the material and find out if it was helpful and of interest. If so, determine when the client would like to get together. Make a definite appointment including the date, time, and place.

[FIGURE 11-1 OMITTED]

For people working in adventure tours, ecotours, and any type of attraction, you should obtain follow-up information before the tourist leaves the sight. Follow-up questionnaires or cards can be handed out with a postage-paid envelope and a request to fill them out and mail them in. However, the problem with this method is that you will have a large number of nonresponses.

It is usually better if you have an opportunity to have a captive audience to have the customers fill in evaluation cards and hand them in on the spot. This can often be done on the bus, plane, or train on the last leg of the trip. If this is not possible, perhaps it could be done while waiting for a group meal to be served or at the end of the meal. Any other opportunity where the group is together and waiting for any reason would be a good time to complete an evaluation form. (See Figure 11-2.) Not only does this enhance your chances of obtaining an almost perfect rate of return, but it also makes the waiting time seem shorter for your clients. Also, offering an incentive encourages customers to respond. For example, you might offer a prize or perhaps a discount on a future trip.

[FIGURE 11-2 OMITTED]

Always close the evaluation with a statement that you have really enjoyed serving them and that you look forward to the opportunity to serve them again. "If you know of anyone who would enjoy our services, we would appreciate your referral. Be sure to ask your referral to mention your name when they contact us." This will provide you an opportunity to track your success with referrals. It will also provide you an opportunity for public relations communications with both the previous customer who referred you new customers and a personal letter to the new customers with reference to the people who had referred them to you.

In the Accommodations sector, it is customary to have guest comment cards in the room, but the number filled in is usually relatively low. A significantly higher proportion of guests who have complaints will fill them in. This is beneficial for corrective measures but does not yield much positive feedback.

The Super 8 Motel guest comment card would probably elicit greater feedback than most because of its relatively brief check-off format making it easy and quick for the guest to complete. Yet it still provides space for comments. (See Figure 11-3.) If it is feasible, select a random sample of guests for a personal telephone call near the end of the guest's stay or shortly after he or she returns home to determine specific information regarding his or her stay.

In the Food and Beverage sector, follow-up should start earlier than in any other sector and should include all customers. The server should check back with the patron shortly after being served to ensure that everything is satisfactory. Before departure, the maitre d' or some other supervisor should follow-up with questions regarding overall satisfaction and any other information that the management wants.

Most restaurants have comment cards on the table. The number that are filled in and the amount of information garnered is increased greatly by holding a drawing each month for a free meal for two. If this is routinely pointed out by the server, the percentage of responses can be phenomenal. Comment cards are also extremely useful in creating an effective mailing list for future promotions.

For the Attractions and Special Events sector, it is probably best to do some type of sampling to interview guests while they are on the site. Tourism services should obtain addresses of contacts and conduct surveys from time to time using a random sample of visitors. A questionnaire to be completed by the client should be designed to elicit the type of information desired.

In the Transportation sector, most people are cooperative about filling in evaluation forms while traveling on the last leg of their trip because they usually do not have anything else to do at the time.

[FIGURE 11-3 OMITTED]

In the Events and Conferences sector, it is common practice to have participants complete an evaluation form after each major session. Participants expect this, and the return rate is high and immediate.

Remember two major elements of your follow-up:

* Thank your clients for the opportunity to serve them and state that you are looking forward to assisting them with their next tourism arrangements.

* Ask your clients for referrals. If you have done a good job in arranging your clients' tourism experiences, they will usually be pleased to recommend your services to friends, family members, and business associates. Because they do not often think of it, plant the idea in their minds. This type of promotion is more successful than any type of paid advertising. In fact, when all sources of promotion are considered, referrals bring in more new customers than any other means, resulting in 25.2 percent of new business. (See Figure 11-4.) You will definitely receive many more referrals if you ask for them rather than leave them to chance. Referrals already bring in such a high percentage of customers. By making it a point to ask every satisfied returning tourist for referrals, we can increase this number significantly. Make it part of your routine!

Discussion Questions

1. What are the two most popular methods of follow-up used in the tourism industry?

2. What are the four advantages of doing your follow-up by telephone?

3. What are five points that you should cover in a follow-up telephone call?

4. Describe how you would conduct follow-up procedures in each of the eight sectors of the tourism industry.

5. Explain the importance of asking for referrals.
FIGURE 11-4
Reasons why people select a particular agency.

WHY PEOPLE SELECT A PARTICULAR AGENCY (1)

* A friend referred me                 25.2%
* Know an agency employee              21.7%
* Newspaper ad                         13.3%
* Direct mail                           6.9%
* Radio                                 6.6%
* Employer does business with agency    6.0%
* Yellow pages                          3.7%
* Television                            1.3%
* Travel folder                          .9%
* Other                                14.4%

(1) Robert T. Reilly, Travel and Tourism Marketing Techniques
(Wheaton, IL: Merton House Publishing Co., 1980): 47.
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Article Details
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Author:Kay, H. Kenner
Publication:Selling Tourism
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:1903
Previous Article:Chapter 10 Customer service.
Next Article:Chapter 12 The most important sale you make maybe your first!
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