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Chapter 5 Answering questions, recommending a product or service are creating acceptance.


After studying this chapter, you should be able to:

* Explain why it is important for you to complete the qualifying process before answering all of the prospect's questions

* Explain why it is important not to give too much information at this point in the sales process

* Offer products or services that will satisfy the prospect's needs and wants

* Offer conclusive proof that your proposal will satisfy the prospect's needs and wants

* Use the reservations computer, brochure, or tariff to demonstrate the economic value of your recommendation



frequent flyer program





economic value

cost comparison


Most prospects approach a tourism office just for "some information." They usually do not have it on their minds that they are going to buy something. Early in the dialogue, the client will usually ask a number of questions. You may be able to answer some of these questions during the qualifying process, but you should never answer two questions without asking one.

If the customer obtains all the information he or she requires before you complete the qualifying process, chances are you will never have a chance to close the sale. Explain to the prospects that you can't provide accurate information before you know more precisely where and when they want to travel. This will provide you with the opportunity to obtain all the information that you need to make a recommendation and to proceed toward a booking. In other words, complete the qualifying process before answering all your client's questions. Once you have a clear idea of the prospect's travel requirements, you are in a position to answer his or her questions accurately. However, do not get engulfed in minute details at this point because you might be wasting your time giving too much information and confusing the client.

* You might be providing a lot of information about a package or destination that might not even be available.

* The detailed information you could be giving might not be correct for the travel arrangements that the customer eventually books.

Answer the essential questions at this stage, but save the details until both you and the customer know for sure that he or she is going to the tourist destination that you have been discussing. Details that the customer will need if he or she is really going to the tourist destination should be discussed later.


To offer products or services that satisfy the prospects needs and wants, you must be a good listener. Offer products that satisfy the prospect's needs and wants. Use the prospect's own statements to show that your proposal meets his or her needs.

Your recommendation should match the client's wants and needs as determined in the qualifying process. The "where," "when," "how long," and "how many" should be straightforward.

If you feel confident that you know exactly which product or service will meet your client's needs, recommend it! If you are not quite sure which one will best meet your customer's needs, give him or her a choice of two. (See Figure 5-1.) Never offer more than two products at a time because it may confuse people. If there are multiple choices, one will usually have to go home to read more about the choices, and think about it instead of making a buying decision.

A prospect went to a travel agency recently, to see whether it would be possible to make a booking for a deluxe (best available) all-inclusive vacation in Jamaica for the next Saturday. He was given three brochures and a list of 20 different properties. It was the following Wednesday before he was able to read and digest all this material. He never did go. If he were presented with a clear option between two choices that met his expectations (needs), he would probably have decided on the spot.

Business Travel

If the purpose of travel is business, you should choose accommodations according to the following criteria:

1. A location that is convenient to where the business will be conducted.

2. A property that has a business center with the facilities that a businessperson requires, including on-line computer hook-ups, Internet access, facsimile services, e-mail, photocopy service, and secretarial services.

3. If the client is a member of a frequent flier program, he or she may prefer a hotel that will offer points towards future travel.



Offer conclusive proof by clearly demonstrating that the benefits of your recommendation will satisfy your client's desires to visit the tourist destination that you are discussing. Pictures are more credible than words. They can clearly demonstrate the splendor of the scenery and attractions. (See Figure 5-2, for example.) Pictures can show how much fun people are having while attending a special event or participating in an activity. Pictures can also show how spectacular a sporting event can be.

Testimonials are particularly useful and should be used much more in the tourism business. They are direct statements from the customer's point of view. They provide credibility for the product or service that you are recommending. If a customer compliments either your recommendations or your service, thank him or her sincerely. Ask if you may have permission to use the statement as an endorsement. You can take the statement down verbatim or even better persuade the customer to write it down in his or her own handwriting.


Twillingate Island Boat Tours uses the following testimonial by travel writer Percy Rowe of the Toronto Sun in their brochure. "Not only is Twillingate noted for its numerous icebergs, it boasts one of Canada's most beautiful coastlines. Chase the pavement to the end, I was told, and you will come to Twillingate. It may as well have been chase the rainbow, because on this summer day Twillingate was a fairy-mix of land and sea."

One technique that is particularly useful is asking clients if they would mind sending you a postcard from the destination. If you ask, they will usually send one. If you do not ask, you will be lucky to receive a postcard from 1 out of 50 to 100 clients. A positive response is enhanced if you make your request at the time of presenting the client with a novelty or favor like a bottle of champagne or some other gift when you give them their tickets. The postcard not only gives you a picture to add to your sales file for the destination, but it also gives you a testimonial. It is wise to ask your client's permission to use the postcard as a testimonial. (See Figure 5-3.)

Usually the client will comment only about the best features of the tourist destination that he or she is visiting. If the customer complains about something that was not up to expectations, it provides you with a head start at resolving the problem before he or she returns.

The experiences of others can be used even if you do not have permission to use direct statements as testimonials. But be sure not to attribute the statement to a particular client. For example, "I have had many clients who have stated that Universal Studios is the most fascinating attraction in California." If you could add specific statements by particular individuals, this would be even more effective.

Personal Experience

Personal experience, if used appropriately, can help you to establish credibility. It can be used to establish that you are very knowledgeable about the destination. Tour companies and destinations go to considerable expense and effort to educate travel agents about their products and destinations because they know from experience that travel agents will sell at least three times as much of a product with which they are thoroughly familiar.

Details on how problems can be avoided or best dealt with at a destination also help establish credibility with your personal experience. For example, a travel agent was in Hong Kong recently and she learned that it cost a $12.00 service charge to cash one traveler's cheque. The interest for a cash advance on a credit card was much less. Her advice for her clients would be to deposit a positive balance in a credit card account and take out cash advances as you need them and pay no interest or service charge. This advice from her personal experience would certainly give a client confidence in the salesperson's knowledge.


Other examples could include special restaurants, nightclubs, attractions, and activities not included in brochures. A personal description of the Goldener Adler Hotel and Restaurant in Innsbruck would certainly heighten a client's desire to visit Austria. The Goldener Adler means Golden Eagle in English. Founded in 1390, it is "known far and wide in other countries as the travelling quarters of princely blood and noble spirits.... Many a crowned head has slept peacefully there. In February 1573 Archduke Ferdinand II organized in Innsbruck a shooting match open to all comers, and to this tourney countless great ones were invited. Duke Albert V of Bavaria and his son came with a train of 416 people and 580 horses." (1) Goethe, Germany's most famous author, was a frequent guest of the Goldener Adler. The Goethe-Stube (Goethe-Room Restaurant and Bar) is named after this notable guest. The most visible change in the last 610 years is that they have converted the stable into another bar and restaurant. At the Goldener Adler you can enjoy live zither music with your gastronomic Tirolean delights. Your personal description, supplemented by quotations, testimonials, postcards, and personal photographs would be irresistible.

Similarly, a personal description of the Lido nightclub show, arguably the best in the world, in Paris, would certainly help close a sale for a trip to France.

A travel counselor used her personal experiences at Parque Laguna de Chankanaab and Playa San Francisco to help close a number of sales to Cozumel, Mexico. Parque Laguna de Chankanaab is connected with Chankanaab Bay by a subterranean channel. "The lagoon, sheltered bay, and offshore Yukab Reef all provide sanctuary for a fascinating diversity of marine life, including coral, sponges, crustaceans, turtles, moray eels, and tropical fish. A sunken boat, a religious statue, and encrusted anchors and cannons in the bay are popular with divers and snorkelers." (2)

To this description add your personal experience of beautiful fish eating out of your hand and the hundreds of colorful fish swimming within 12 to 18 inches from you--just enough to give you and them personal space. Your personal experience combined with the quotation should convince any diver or scuba diver that this is the place to go. Of course, personal photos, postcards, and testimonials will enhance your ability to close this sale.

In the qualifying process, you determined whether the client preferred to be alone or to meet people. If you are not sure what to recommend on this continuum, you could contact a colleague who has been to the destination, another customer who has been there recently, the tourist board, or a knowledgeable person from a tour company servicing the destination.

Also in the qualifying process you ascertained where the customer fit on the relaxation or excitement continuum. If you are not sure what to recommend regarding this continuum, follow the same advice just given. Contact a colleague, knowledgeable customer, tourist board, or contacts at tour companies.

Recommending Accommodations

Keep a file for each destination, including unique accommodations and others to be recommended for various reasons. Be sure to have at least one recommendation in the best available, moderate, and budget categories plus a recommended airport location. Include photos, testimonials, and notes regarding why you would recommend it. This will be your preferred supplier list. When selecting your preferred suppliers, there are a number of considerations:

* amount of commission

* timely and efficient payment of commissions

* client satisfaction with the property

* location

* value for money paid

* unique qualities found only at this location

Quality of Tours

As with accommodations, keep a file of recommended tours to each destination. Include those that would be of interest to people with special interests. As with accommodations, include photos, testimonials, postcards, and notes why you would recommend it. Obtain copies of the hotel brochures for properties used in tours. Hotel brochures contain a lot more information and photographs of properties than tour brochures and can often aid in closing a sale or convincing a customer to upgrade.

Concern for Safety

Keep a file of safety statistics and articles about the safety records of your company and your suppliers. As members of the tourism industry, we know that commercial airline travel is the safest way to travel. But, if there is an air disaster anywhere, it is front-page news around the world. It can seriously affect business, particularly for the carrier involved, even if the airline's lifetime safety record has been exemplary. Obviously, terrorist attacks around the world have impacted public consciousness. Similarly, tourists being stranded in a foreign country by a bankrupt tour company or people losing their money because of an insolvent tour company gain instant notoriety. Tourists react with a hesitancy to book a packaged tour.

Tour companies that are members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) are required to post a $1,000,000 bond to protect consumers. (See Figure 5-4.) Use this to assure your customers that their money is safe. Why would you recommend any company that was not a member of the USTOA unless it could prove that it had equivalent consumer protection?


In Canada, the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec have licensing laws, which require bonding. In other provinces and territories, it is important to determine whether your client's funds are protected when you forward them to a tour operator. If your supplier is bonded, use this to assure your clients that their funds are safe.


Something Familiar or Something Different

Testimonials will be most influential for either end of this continuum. Photographs would also be invaluable.

Compare the two products offered under the following headings: Inclusions and exclusions of each.

Point out the advantages and disadvantages of each, emphasizing the benefits. Don't say, "You get what you pay for!" It is derogatory and makes the customer feel foolish. Instead, take the positive approach, pointing out the benefits, including the value of the higher priced item. If a form like the Comparative Analysis For Tours, Figure 5-5, was prepared as a template on computer software, the sections for Features, Sight-seeing Tours, Itinerary/Accommodations, and Comments would expand for the number included for any particular tour.

After studying a number of tours of the California Coast, I decided that I would recommend two in the best available category. The two that I decided I would sell were Collette Tours, "California Coast," and Globus Tours, "California Coast Vacation." How did I decide on these two tours to recommend in the best available category for this destination? Both were high-quality tours in the best available category based on their inclusions and accommodations. Both tours covered more or less the same territory in the same time frame.

As with most tours, they promote their tours by the number of days on the tour. But for cost comparison, it is better to calculate the cost per diem by dividing the total price by the number of nights, because the cost of accommodations is usually the most significant factor in costing a tour. Also, the last day of a tour usually does not include anything except possibly breakfast and probably transfers. Therefore, it is more meaningful to compare the number of nights than the number of days, particularly when you are comparing prices.

Although these two tours are very similar there are some significant differences, which I clarified in the Comments section. (See Figure 5-6.) The Globus tour is $90.00 more than the Collette tour, which I would express as $11.25 per night or 5 percent to de-emphasize the price difference. Also if you were trying to sell the Globus tour you could stress that it includes three more meals, three boat cruises, and excellent hotels making it good value for "... only $11.25 more." On the other hand, if you were trying to close the sale with the Collette tour, you would emphasize that it is $90.00 less expensive and includes Yosemite National Park and Capistrano. Also, for Hollywood fans, Mann's Chinese Theatre and the Stars Walk of Fame would probably be decisive features for the Collette package.

Your insertions into the Comments section would summarize the points that will probably decide which tour the customer will choose.


Use the reservations computer, brochure, or tariff to demonstrate the economic value of your recommendation by showing the cost of your recommendation compared with other possibilities. For anyone who thinks that an airfare quotation is expensive, show them the difference between the promotional fare quoted and the "regular coach or economy fare." Usually, this will convince them that your offer is a good deal. Convince them that if they wait, they may have to pay the higher fare.

For example, if a prospect was discussing travel from New York to Seattle on February 5 (Figure 5-7) returning on February 19, and today is December 30, the line number 1 fare could be used. This fare is $240.00 plus taxes, round trip. The booking must be made at least 21 days prior to travel. The passenger must be staying over a minimum of one Saturday and a maximum of 30 days. Travel must be on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If the passenger waits until January 23, this fare would definitely not be available and the customer might have to pay the fare on line 23, $1,026.05 one way or $2,052.10 round trip plus taxes.

The point that most clients do not realize is that not all seats on an aircraft are available at any special promotional fare. As few as 20 seats may be sold at the special "seat sale" price. When these are sold, the passenger must move to a higher fare that could even be the full coach fare, which in this example is listed on line number 28, which is $1,437.21 one way or $2,874.42 round trip plus taxes, more than the promotional fare listed on line number 1. This is almost 1,200% of the special promotional fare. Therefore, the salesperson should always emphasize shortage of space at the promotional fare to help the customer make a buying decision now! Interestingly, I called United Airlines later the same afternoon as I received the quotation of $240.00 and it was no longer available. If my client had not decided to buy two hours earlier, it would have cost a lot more and perhaps it would now be unaffordable.

Cost Comparison

When trying to convince a prospect that the price of a relatively expensive tour package or Fly-Cruise is a good value for money paid, use a cost comparison between the cost of the package and if they did it on their own. (See Figure 5-8.)

A cruise to five international ports of call in five different countries plus the port of embarkation was approximately the same as a one-week stay in one destination. If you added the extra airfare to the five ports of call included on the tour plus the additional transfers, the Fly-Cruise Package would save at least $304.00 over independent travel. Also the cruise ship does most of its traveling at night while you are sleeping. On the other hand, the air flights would be during your prime vacation time. Another factor to consider, if you enjoy wine with a meal or a drink while you are watching entertainment, drinks are about half the price on a ship as they are on land. (In Chapter 6, Figure 6-5, suggestions show how this information can be used to close a sale.)

Discussion Questions

1. Why is it important for you to complete the qualifying process before answering all of the prospect's questions?

2. Why is it important to not give too much information before the sale is closed?

3. List five examples of conclusive proof that you could use to convince a prospect to accept a tourism experience that will satisfy his or her needs or wants.

4. Explain how you could use the reservations computer, brochure, or tariff to demonstrate the economic value of your recommendation.


(1.) Dr. A. Dreyer, A Historically Famous Tyrolese Inn (Osterrechische Alpenpost, no. 5, 1912).

(2.) Mexico Travel Book (Heathrow, FL: AAA Publishing, 2000), 358.
FIGURE 5-6 Comparative analysis of two California Coast tours.


DESTINATION: California Coast               QUALITY: Best Available

Co. 1. Collette's California                Co. 2. Globus's California
  Coast Tour                                  Vacation Tour

No. of nights:                          8   8

  Yosemite National Park                    Cruise of San Francisco Bay
  Mann's Chinese Theatre, LAX               Steam Train--Redwood
  "Stars Walk of Fame," LAX                 Cruise to Catalina Island
  Mission San Juan Capistrano               Cruise of San Diego Bay


  BREAKFASTS                            5   8

  LUNCHES                               0   1

  DINNERS                               6   5


  San Francisco                             San Francisco
  Yosemite National Park                    Santa Barbara
  Mann's Chinese Theatre, LAX               San Diego
  Stars Walk of Fame, LAX                   Hearst Castle
  17 Mile Drive                             17 Mile Drive
  Big Sur                                   Big Sur
  San Diego Zoo


  San Francisco                             San Francisco
    Galleria Park/Sir Francis               The Westin St. Francis

  Yosemite National Park
    Yosemite Lodges/Tenaya

  Monterey                                  Monterey
    Casa Munras                             Monterey Hyatt Regency

  Solvang                                   Solvang
    Danish Country Inn/                     Rancho Santa Barbara
    Royal Scandinavian Inn

  Los Angeles                               Long Beach
    Westin Bonaventure                        Renaissance Hotel

    West Coast Hotel

  San Diego                                 San Diego
    US Grant Hotel                            Travelodge Harbor Island

$1,719.00                                   $1,809.00

COST/DIEM:                        $214.88   $226.13

COMMENTS:                                   $90.00 more/$11.25 per day
  * Yosemite National Park                      (approximately 5%)
    San Diego Zoo                             more meals
    Capistrano                              * 3 boat cruises
    Mann's Chinese Theatre                    Santa Barbara
    Stars Walk of Fame                      * excellent hotels

* Indicates key feature


Apollo printout of fares from New York to Seattle for February 5.
(From Apollo Global Distribution System)

*SONYCSEA05FEB^UA                                     *SHORT $D*


                                                   (TAXES/FEES NOT
         USD       FARE             MIN/    XL    TVL DATES     FIRST/
   CX    FARE      BASIS      AP    MAX     FE    FIRST/LAST    LAST

 1 UA    240.00R   WOE21NQX   21^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
 2 UA    277.22R   WE21NX     21^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
 3 UA    314.42R   WE14NX     14^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
 4-UA    349.78R   WE14NMSZ   14^   SU/--   ^^   01SEP/28FEBC     -/-
 5-UA    368.38R   WE14NMBZ   14^   SU/--   ^^   01SEP/28FEBC     -/-
 6 UA    370.24R   VE21NX     21^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
 7 UA    463.26R   VE14NX     14^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
 8 UA    241.86    SDGWAJFK   --    --/--   ^^       -/31MARC     -/-
 9 UA    241.86    SDGWALGA   --    --/--   ^^       -/31MARC     -/-
10 UA    556.28R   QE14NX     14^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
11 UA    292.00    HCLVUSA    --    --/--   ^^       -/31MARC     -/-
12 UA    309.00    HCHVUSA    --    --/--   ^^       -/31MARC     -/-
13 UA    643.72R   HOE21NO    21^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
14 UA    340.00    HLVUSA     --    --/--   ^^       -/31MARC     -/-
15 UA    701.40R   HE21NO     21^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
16 UA    360.00    HHVUSA     --    --/--   ^^       -/31MARC     -/-
17 UA    837.22R   MOE14NQ    14^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
18 UA    894.88R   ME14NQ     14^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
19 UA    894.88R   MEOMLNQ      ^   SU/30   ^^       -/-          -/-
20 UA    682.00    BCHVUSA    --    --/--   --       -/31MARC     -/-
21 UA    702.33    MM         --    --/--   --       -/-          -/-
22 UA    755.00    BVUSA      --    --/--   --       -/31MARC     -/-
23 UA   1026.05    BA3        03    --/--   --       -/-          -/-
24XUA   1081.86    MTSTR      --    --/--   --       -/-          -/-
25XUA   1109.77    MTGUA      --    --/--   --       -/-          -/-
26 UA   1109.77    BUA        --    --/--   --       -/-          -/-
27 UA   1202.79    YUA        --    --/--   --       -/-          -/-
28 UA   1437.21    Y          --    --/--   --       -/-          -/-

FIGURE 5-8 Air-sea package versus independent travel.


Item                                      7-Day Cruise

Outside Cabin Cat HH                         $2,273.00
Transfers in San Juan                            24.00
Government Fees and Taxes                        45.07
Air Add-on SEA-SJU                              579.00
Taxes and Other Charges
Port Charges                                     25.00

Total                                        $2,946.07

Total for the Air-Sea Package                $2,946.07

Item                            7-Day Independent Tour

Share Double or Twin                         $1,241.10
Transfers Round Trip                             20.35
Entertainment                                   140.00
Airfare SEA-SJU                               1,063.50
Taxes and Other Charges                          38.45

Total for 1 Destination Only                 $2,503.40

Additional Airfare for the
Same Itinerary as the Cruise                    624.65

Extra Transfers                                 122.10

Total for Air-Land Tour                      $3,250.15
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Article Details
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Author:Kay, H. Kenner
Publication:Selling Tourism
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Previous Article:Chapter 4 Product knowledge.
Next Article:Chapter 6 Closing the sale.

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