I’ve written about sales strategies in the past, but not specifically about closing a sale. A great analogy to highlight the difference would be to liken them to the types of punches Claressa Shields would throw in a ring. The Sales Strategies are the jabs whereas the Close Strategies are the right hooks.
Both types of strategies are critical punches to land to ensure a win. But unlike a boxing match, selling travel leads to both parties winning. It’s just that sometimes, our clients need a little help in making the decision. And that’s where we come in.
When we think of closing styles, there are a few different types you can use. Which one depends mainly on what feels most comfortable to you and/or what matches best with your client. Let’s explore.
The Assumptive Close
With the Assumptive Close, you don’t ask. You assume. Forget what they say about people who make ‘ass’umptions. In this case, they would be wrong. The assumptive close is probably one of the most effective close styles. It will be well worth your effort to nail it down.
You don’t ask… “What do you think about this, or how do you like that?” Instead, you speak as if it’s already a done deal. For all of you, woo-woo types out there, it’s kind of like manifesting a booking into being.
You’ll use phrases like…
Once I process your deposit, I’m going to send you a checklist of all the things you should be aware of leading up to your departure. Remind me, what credit card will you be using for this vacation?
You are both going to LOVE the view of the sunset from the balcony we are booking. I hope you remember to send me a photo. How will we be securing your booking today?
You may be thinking…Yikes, that’s pretty presumptuous. But remember, you are only using the assumptive close once you’ve met all the client’s objections and desires. You would never go into any close situation unless you had.
Once all objections and expectations have been met, It’s time to put a bow on top. The turkey is done. The table is set. If they are travelling to Paris…it’s a fait accompli.
If you’ve done your job correctly leading up to this moment, your clients will be looking for direction in how to move forward.
So, give it to them!
The “This or That” Close
Who doesn’t like choice? I know I do. But too much choice is too much choice. The “This or That” close is a useful close for those clients who prefer to make decisions – You know…the control freaks.
It’s a version of the Assumptive Close, but with a side of…”you choose.” You are still assuming the booking is a done deal, but you are framing it so that the client feels that they still have control.
“Which of the two itineraries would you prefer? Will it be:
Door #1 – The five days on the beach with the three days of adventure
Door #2 – a full week on the beach and a full week of touring?
It should be clear by the tone of your voice that those are the only two options. If you are a mother with a toddler, you’ll be familiar with this style of close. As in…” Hey little Ricky, would you like mushrooms or Brussels sprouts? Them’s your choices.”
If it works like a charm for mothers all over the world, why not for travel advisors?
The Suggestive Close
K…If I’m honest, the first two close styles are my favs. But I concede that there are more ways to skin the cat. The suggestive close is one where you speak in a more consultative way. It almost sounds like the closing argument in a court case.
“Because you mentioned to me that you love boutique-style accommodations that take on the flavour of the country, I’ve booked you a charming two-story villa just a few blocks from the metro. The interior is designed in a traditional Vietnamese style using raw-Denang silk. Does that sound like something you’d like, Carol?”
“Great. And because Harold is so tall, shall I take the liberty of looking into an exit row seat for the two of you?”
Seriously, how can anyone say no to that? As if Carol says, “no thanks, we’ll just take the crappy middle row seats at the back of the plane. Harold has made me suffer for 25 years. He can suffer at the back of the plane for 12 hours.”
All three styles of closing work well. The important thing is that you choose one and use it. By this point, you’ll have done the work of customizing a holiday that is perfect for your client. You’ve earned the right to ask for the booking.
And regardless of which style you choose, there is still one more ninja trick that you must add to any close to ensure its success.
Add a sprinkle of URGENCY
What can I say? Most of us are procrastinators. Even though we know we should do something, does not mean we do it. Ask any health club coach come January 21st. We’ll put off just about everything until presented with a reasonable reason why we shouldn’t.
And just like there are different ways to close a sale, there are several strategies to create urgency.
The scarcity scheme aka the FOMO factor
You can create a sense of urgency by establishing a sense of scarcity. Using phrases like…
“There are only a few spots available at this price, and then the next cabin style up is an additional $599 per person. I can hold the spot for you with a small deposit.”
Or when the price is not the factor for the client, and for many clients, it really isn’t. You could say,
“Space at Giraffe Manor gets booked up months in advance. I can’t believe we even managed to secure a reservation. We don’t want to risk losing it, so let’s put down a deposit today. We can then work out the other details that don’t require immediate attention later.”
And nothing works better than using a real-life examples to bolster your point.
“Just last week, I had clients who had their hearts set on booking the Sun Suite at the Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia for their honeymoon. But the groom-to-be wasn’t 100% sure and needed a few extra days to think about it. But within 24 hours, it was gone. Somehow I think he’s going to end up having to pay the price elsewhere, if you know what I mean 😉😉.”
The security stratagem – A bird in the hand
We work in an industry that thrives on dynamic pricing. Airlines change their pricing several times a day. That’s also sometimes true of resorts and excursions.
The fear of fluctuating prices is a viable way to create urgency.
When selling travel, I always advise locking in the airfare before spending too much time working on the land arrangements. Land prices are less volatile. I’ve seen many examples where an agent spent hours perfecting the hotels, transfers and sightseeing only to lose the booking because the airfare wasn’t locked in. And the price jumped so much that it outpaced the clients’ budget.
Of course, this is assuming the airfare is really a great deal. If it’s not, I would never jeopardize the trust I’ve built with my client just to get a quick sale. Knowing when to have patience and play the long game is also a skill.
The bonus for nothing ploy
Not to be confused with discounting because I would never endorse that. The “bonus for nothing ploy” sweetens the deal by offering a value-added option but only if they book within a given time frame. It works something like this:
“While I don’t want to put any pressure on you unnecessarily, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention a promotion I have on right now. Any holiday that is booked during the month of August gets a ballot for a couples spa package giveaway. I mean, if you know you are going no matter what, why put off making the booking if it means you could win a couples massage? All I require is a deposit.”
a word about deposits…
Collecting deposits are a great way to secure a booking without being too scary. As someone’s grandma used to say…
”In for a penny; in for a pound.”
Or, in other words…
“An object in motion stays in motion.”Shout out to Ms. White, my 9th-grade science teacher, for teaching me the Law of Inertia.
Both phrases refer to the point that people are rarely willing to walk away from a booking once they’ve committed. So if you can collect a deposit to lock down a booking, do it.
During COVID, land deposits are often refundable, so it’s a no-brainer to use this tactic.
But do remember, not all deposits are refundable, which is often the case with the best airfares. Be sure to check the booking conditions associated with the fare classes. Sometimes, the airfare deal is so screaming good; it makes sense to take the risk.
Sometimes paying the change fee is still a better deal than waiting and paying a higher price when the airfares increase. As a trusted travel advisor, you’ll just need to walk your client through the different scenarios.
So there you have it, my no-frills guide to closing a sale. If you know someone who struggles to convert quotes into bookings, be sure to share.