Johanna Jainchill
Johanna Jainchill

*logoWhile most of the world has become Facebook and Twitter-happy, one top travel executive is reminding agents that there is power in going back to the basics.

Vicki Freed, the senior vice president of sales at Royal Caribbean International, recently conducted a webinar with Nexion travel agents on how agents can most effectively increase sales by using the good, old-fashioned telephone.

"In today's marketing world many people shy away from employing one of the most effective, interactive and successful strategies of all time: the phone call," Freed said during an online seminar entitled "Effective Outbound Calling."

"Agents are asking me for the silver bullet in how to close more sales during these slower times," Freed explained, adding that most people are hesitant to pick up the phone because they think customers hate to be called.

"While this may be true with most stereotypical telemarketing techniques, if handled correctly, personally and in an engaging manner, using this approach can pay off big," Freed told the agents.

"Folks don't mind being phoned if you are calling with a purpose. For instance, tell them about a promotion that applies to them personally," she said. "When your outbound calling caters to your client's needs specifically, they don't take it as a sales pitch but as a favor provided by their local travel agent. If that package is not what they are looking for, you now have the opportunity to break the ice and begin a smooth, conversational evaluation of their desired vacation."

Freed said that establishing rapport with clients sets agents apart from their competition. Noting that only one in five customers returns to do business with the same travel agent, anything an agent can do to strengthen a connection becomes all the more important.

Noting that people are also afraid of rejection, Freed said that is part of being a salesperson.

"No one likes to hear 'no'," she said. "Don't take it personally; it is part of the process. Just accept the refusal and move on to the next client.... You can't win if you don't try."

Free ended the seminar reminding the agents that they can't wait for the phone to ring.

"Remember, the phone also dials OUT," she concluded. "Now I challenge you to immediately go make at least 10 outbound calls."

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