Marc My Words: Waging war on fear

s there anything positive you can do to offset the dark, dangerous environment that terrorism has now created?

I'm convinced there is:

Fix your clients' emotions first.

When someone calls to cancel, don't just respond to the request.

Transactional thinking has always hurt travel agents when setting up a trip; it will hurt us, too, when canceling a trip.

Marc Mancini.Acknowledge that you understand your clients' concerns; communicate sympathy for their lost trip, and offer to give advice, ideas and counseling as the travel mood changes.

This might convince them, as nothing else can, that they do, indeed, need a travel agent.

See if your clients are interested in something else.

Escorted tours, cruises, rail travel and nearby hotel/resort stays seem to still hold appeal to many of our clients.

If they ask what might constitute safe vacations in these times, that's a huge signal that the right recommendation might work.

Watch for bargains.

Be proactive and alert your clients to great deals, for discounting is sure to come.

With some customers, superb prices might tip the scale away from fear and toward a travel experience.

Offer to help with short, auto-based excursions.

Usually, clients don't think of us for these trips. We don't deal much with this type of travel, either.

It's time to change that.

Alert clients that you might be able to secure great hotel rates and recommend the perfect lodging for their trip.

We're now in a time when advice and hand-holding have considerable value to consumers.

Only travel agents are equipped and motivated to do this.

Ironically, we might be able to sustain our business better than many travel suppliers can.

Above all, stay keenly alert for opportunities.

As in any crisis, they will surely come.

Marc Mancini is a professor of travel at West Los Angeles College

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