ow sophisticated is your marketing
plan? Over the long course of your relationship with your clients,
are you passive, waiting for them to come to you to plan their
Or are you taking the initiative to offer them travel
opportunities you know they'll be excited about, that will have
them thanking you for your suggestions and marveling at your
Today's sophisticated marketers employ Customer Relationship
Management -- CRM -- to truly get the 360-degree view of clients
that ensures high satisfaction and maximum profits. It has been the
hot topic of marketing and sales conferences in virtually every
industry this year.
CRM is much more than the latest business buzz phrase -- it
employs database and internet technology to gain customer equity
and loyalty, and it's having an enormous impact on companies large
and small. It's my belief that those in the travel industry --
agencies and suppliers alike -- who seize upon it early will have a
clear advantage over any competitor who's slow to adopt a
comprehensive CRM plan.
The goal of CRM is not so different from the traditional goal of
smart businesspeople throughout history: to know their clients
well, and use that knowledge to profit by giving customers the
products and services they want, when they want them. The more
information one can gather about clients, the more effectively one
can reach out to them, and the more satisfied customers will
Satisfaction leads to repeat business, and repetitive
interactions help refine your understanding of customer
preferences. This leads to ever-increasing customer satisfaction
and helps you make more money per customer over the course of your
relationship with him or her than you would have otherwise.
Key to the philosophy of CRM is employment of today's technology
to manage this knowledge and use it effectively. The Page 1 story
in the Arpil 1 issue of Travel Weekly about a travel agency in
Wisconsin is a good example. It shows how one agency used a simple
CRM technique to make $45,000 in commissions on a single supplier
special that, literally, almost got tossed in the garbage.
Large companies seized on CRM first because they must employ
technology to manage customer relationships that can number in the
millions. But it is perhaps small and midsize businesses that will
best be able to take advantage of CRM opportunities.
In the present environment, travel agents have an advantage
because they own the face-to-face, one-to-one relationship with a
customer. Smart suppliers seek to exploit this relationship through
incentives to travel agents to steer business their way.
The smartest suppliers are connecting with the smartest travel
agents, who have used CRM plans to build the type of comprehensive
database that's the engine for CRM efforts.
A powerful database, combined with the travel agent/client
relationship built on trust, can become the most important asset a
travel agent has in the eyes of a supplier. An agent who manages
this asset well will be able to work out the best deals with
CRM is the theme of this year's Travel Weekly Conference,
scheduled for May 20 to 22 in Chicago. We're calling this
conference "Hi-Tech, Hi-Touch" because we'll be exploring ways that
human relationships with customers can interact with technology to
produce the best results for your business.
The Travel Weekly Conference is an invitation to join the
relationship revolution that's changing the way business is done
around the world. The conference is being coordinated by well-known
travel technology consultant (and travel agency owner) Scott
Take a look at the exciting program he has put together on Pages
10 and 11 of the April 1 issue, and you'll see why attending the
conference is critical for owners, managers and CIOs of travel
agencies and suppliers large and small.
Attendees will explore proven best practices and receive
step-by-step implementation instruction. Energizing keynote
speakers, incisive seminars and a lively trade show and Consultant
Arcade will give you the tools you need to put your business on
course for growth, starting the day you return home and continuing
for years to come.
See you there.