If you’re a travel agent selling an expensive holiday, your written pitch can be just as important as face-to-face contact with the client.
Imagine yourself as a customer on the high street, shopping for a dream holiday. You would probably visit a number of travel agents to get ideas and prices. The chances are you’d come away with a number of quotes.
And if there’s not much between them, you would almost certainly go with the best presented and most informative quote.
Since introducing a quotation system for agents in other European countries, Club Med has seen its conversion rate increase. When the operator receives an enquiry the system generates the quote with date and price information as well as some information on the village. The operator now plans to extend the system to its UK agency customers.
UK head of sales Steve O’Loughlin says: “It’s a good sales tool, makes the sale go quicker and means we don’t have to hold off too much stock.”
Presentation is everything, not just in terms of the layout and typeface, but what’s included. Here we give you tried and tested tips from experienced agents who make written pitches work for them:
Perfect pitches: top tips
1. Do the quotation or pitch quickly, while it is still fresh in your mind and in the client’s.
2. Consider setting up a template to use for written quotations or pitches. You could divide it into specific destinations and use pictures or colourful logos from tour operators you use regularly and trust.
O’Loughlin said: “We have an agent who cuts and pastes information straight from the website and e-mails his customers on the spot. His conversion is sky high because his presentation is really slick and professional.”
3. Avoid slipping into travel jargon or writing down codes such as LHR. It’s best not to assume any knowledge on the customer’s part when it comes to the itinerary details – spell everything out in a neat, concise way. If it’s a straightforward itinerary, make the quote straightforward and use a bold typeface.
4. Adapt the language you use to the customer and consider aspects such as how well you know them and how much information they might require. The pitch is a great opportunity to demonstrate your travel knowledge, whet the customer’s appetite and show you were listening in the first place.
5. Consider how much time you should devote to each quote. Ideally, it should match the potential business you will get from the booking.
Altrincham Travel Centre managing director Denise Hodgson said: “The amount of effort you put in is dependent on the budget. Everyone is different and someone’s idea of a dream holiday might be a weekend in Venice.”
6. Presentation is everything and spelling mistakes or grammatical errors will let you down. Use your computer’s spell-check facility before sending anything to customers. Edwin Doran Travel managing director Rosie Doran said: “Good presentation is vital and spelling things correctly is important.”
7. The amount of detail you include usually depends on the trip. For example, if it’s a wedding in a long-haul destination you’ll need to include all the legal requirements as well as hotel facilities. Consider whether to include pictures of the hotel or resort or website addresses for them to look up.
Spa Travel director Paul Dayson said: “Include anything relevant, such as climate or links to websites with useful information, and explain why you have recommended things. It is important that your customers get the right product.”
8. Try personalising pitches as much as possible with the customer’s name, date of travel, destination and anything else you can include that they
There are two schools of thought on this – one being that the more personal you make it, the more difficult it is for the customer to take it to another agency. The other view is that if you give too much away, a rival might quote on exactly the same holiday and undercut you.
9. Always have your name and telephone number on the quote. If clients are going to a lot of travel agents they may not remember who gave them the best quote.
Think for your client and try to add value by anticipating things they might need or like, such as airport car parking and excursions.
10. If your pitch has gone well and the customer has booked the holiday, think about sending them a taster pitch for their next holiday, including some hotels you think they might like in different destinations.