By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
We are great travel consultants. You want to travel. Seems like a perfect match, yet there is a lot more that goes into the process. I like to call it selling travel right. My first blog of 2017 was about how can I make your day better?—it is our goal for 2017. Here is one part of what I wrote in January:
“We also must work hard every day to become better at our jobs, so we can make our client’s trips the best they can be. The more we can be involved in the total planning of the trip, offering wise suggestions to enhance the trip, making arrangements for all phases of their travel, and listening to their thoughts, will make their day better”.
These two sentences are the foundation of selling travel right, so let’s explore together what they mean for you to get a better outcome for your trip.
First, Our Mission
Visit Dream Destination’s LLC mission is to provide customers with the highest quality, expertly planned domestic and foreign leisure travel with a focus on cruises, European river Cruises and European vacations for groups and individuals.
For me, the key part of our mission is “highest quality, expertly planned domestic and foreign leisure travel” for our customers. I think we accomplish this by selling travel right.
Selling Travel Right
We believe there are really 4 parts to selling travel right when we are planning a great vacation for you. They are:
- A good product
- Great Service
- A good return on your trip investment—UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES
- Becoming your trusted counselor by truly understanding what you want from your vacation experiences.
The ultimate result, if we do it correctly, is better outcomes for you in your travels. With the goal of better travel outcomes for you in mind, let’s examine these 4 elements of selling travel right further.
A Good Product and Good Service
The first two items in our selling travel right list are the basics in providing a good trip. Without them, you will go elsewhere to find your desired trip. But do not think they are unimportant. First, we have to know the vendors and what they deliver. We need to know their advantages and disadvantages. In short, we must know if they have a good product. Second, we must be able to clearly communicate these facts to you, our clients.
Most of you, our clients or future clients, have already done your homework before you approach us—you have read a lot of information on the web or seen an ad or received something in the mail.
The ideas begin—I think this might be a good trip for me. How good that information is, or how much is actually truthful could be in doubt, but you at least have the basics. So, to keep up, Anne and I have to be constantly learning about what products are right for your trips. We have to know our products better than our clients, if we want to provide accurate assessments. I promise you, we do provide very accurate assessments of vendors or a trip idea in almost every case. However, when we do not know our product or region well enough to provide proper service, we will either find out or refer you to someone else who can handle your travel needs correctly. You can trust us to tell you the truth.
Good service is just that—we do what we promise. We return phone calls and emails. We try to respond within 24 hours. We also build in checks to insure we follow through. For example, when we first make contact with a new client, we tell them a deadline for a response from us. If they have not heard from us by the deadline, we ask them to give us a call to find out why. Sometimes it is an email that went to a spam box, sometimes it is a misspelled email address. Sometimes, we never got the inquiry. But, in truth, this seldom happens. Good service is keeping you updated and when to expect a response and delivering on that promise.
Look again at what I wrote in January of this year:
“We also must work hard every day to become better at our jobs, so we can make our client’s trips the best they can be.” Isn’t this exactly what the basics of providing a good trip is?
An Example of how we help you Learn More about Our Vendors
We recently held a river cruise seminar in Houston at a local wine store, French Country Wines. It was a joint venture, with our Business Development Manager (BDM) from AmaWaterways. Along with some great French Wines, I provided an in-depth presentation about cruising the Rhone River on AmaWaterways and Sheila, our BDM, made a presentation on cruising the Bordeaux region. We both had interesting PowerPoint presentations and could provide insights from personal experience of sailing these two trips. I cannot think of a better example of how we know our products better than our clients. We were able to answer all questions about river cruising, to include the advantages and disadvantages of sailing with AmaWaterways, and to compare that experience with other vendors. Reliable, accurate information, with no pressure is our style and we had a fun evening, learned a little and drank some good wine—a great evening in my book!
I really believe were are one of the premier river cruise travel advisors in the US. But please, don’t just take my word for it–here is what one of our clients said about our services concerning a river cruise trip:
“I am finally getting around to thanking you for a truly wonderful vacation. From the selection of AMAWaterways for the river cruise to the hotel and final dinner in Paris everything was perfect. It was so apparent to Jim and me that you both love what you do and are very, very good at it.” Maureen & Jim W. AMA River Cruise 2015
Thanks—we really appreciate your kind words and hope to live up to them on your future trips—they are going on a second river cruise later this year that we planned—there is no higher compliment than using us again to travel!
The Difference between Good and Great
The third and fourth items on our selling travel right list, separate us from other travel advisors or agents, in my opinion. It is all about the experiences and trust. It is about taking good and getting it to great. I do not know one person who does not want value for their money. However, many cannot really define value. It is not price, it is what you get for the money. I read a quote on LinkedIn the other day that I think really applies here:
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”—I am not sure who the author is, but I am sure that a poor quality trip will not justify a really low price. Value is finding the sweet spot—a good price and a good value. We excel in this.
It is our job to discover what great is to you, and advise you, our client, how to get it. It is a constant process of getting to know you, building trust, adjusting to lifestyle changes—a dynamic process that requires us to contact you often. The more we know about you, the better job we will do.
I also like to say that we “do what is right when no one is looking.” We are authentic and transparent and realize we are only as good as our next transaction or contact with you. In short, our goal is to provide you trips that will: exceed your expectations; help you make wise choices; eliminate hassles and we will help you get the best Value for your Money!
Here is the last part of what I wrote in January
“The more we can be involved in the total planning of the trip, offering wise suggestions to enhance the trip, making arrangements for all phases of their travel, and listening to their thoughts, will make their day better”.
Doesn’t that sound like a good way to make a good trip great?
An Example of a Great Value Trip
In 2014, we led a group of clients on a tour for the 70th Anniversary of D Day. We planned the trip and created a unique itinerary that allowed all to see the important D Day sights during the festivities. We managed to allow our clients to participate in some special anniversary activities. Other trips during that anniversary time cost several thousands of dollars more than ours, but really did not have anything extra to justify the extra cost. That is real value, in our opinion, and we constantly look for the best at a good price for you our clients.
Again, let’s here from someone on the trip—not just from me. Here is what one client said about this trip:
“What a wonderful trip you two architected for us!! You were very thoughtful in all the details that made this such a success, and we thank you for it from the bottom of our hearts. We have so many good memories to last for a lifetime. It was also great meeting new friends that I hope we can keep for a long time.” Clare & Bill B. D Day Tour 2014
Thanks for the endorsement—we were honored you trusted us to led the trip and your easy going style help make it a great adventure!
Our Final Thoughts
We have a really deep knowledge of most of the destinations you want to visit and we will develop a personal understanding of your interests. We basically will guide you through the process and do what is best for you. You can trust us. We never look at you as a client—we look at you as a friend. We always treat our friends’ right! The result will be better outcomes for your vacation when we partner up!
We would like to hear your thoughts. What are your vacation ideas or dreams, or bucket lists for now or for the future? Please reach out to us by sending me an email at email@example.com or better yet, call me at 713-397-0188. We want to be your trusted travel advisors. We want to help you: Savor life . . . make memories . . . Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!
HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years. He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years. He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees. His other Certifications:
- AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
- Viking River Cruise Specialist
- Scenic River Cruise Specialist
- Emerald Waterways Specialist
- Avalon Waterways Specialist