One of the biggest challenges travel managers and TMCs face is effective communication with their clients, especially when broaching tricky or emotionally charged topics.
Speaking at the GBTA Southern Africa conference in Pretoria, Wendie White from Lloyd Orr Communications shared a few tips that will go a long way in improving relationships with suppliers, clients, colleagues, and everyone else you need to communicate with:
- Get out of your own head: Put aside the clutter and noise going on in your head and focus on the person you are trying to communicate with.
- Pay attention and listen to others: The most important information is usually disseminated in the first one or two minutes of a conversation – from not focusing from the very start, you may be missing out on essential details.
- Help others get clarity by asking questions: Communication is a two-way process and by asking questions you will be encouraging the flow of conversation. For example, if a corporate traveller says they hate a particular hotel, then ask them why, and how you can make it better for them in the future?
- Keep it simple: By making things too complicated you and the person you are communicating with are likely to get confused along the way. Be clear about what you’re saying and always know what your main objective and desired outcome is.
- Make it easy for people to approach you: By taking the time to find out who people are and what makes them tick, you will be able to resonate with them better.
- Avoid assumptions: When dealing with the same people all the time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making assumptions. It’s important to remember that just sending out information is not communication – you need to follow up and go through information one-on-one if they want to.
- Be aware of emotions: Business travel is a formal industry, but the reality is that you are working with people with emotions and as a travel manager or TMC, you need to be aware of this. The way people receive information will be very different depending on their mood at any given time.
- Know your audience: Take the time to learn who your clients and what they need so that you disseminate information that is targeted to their specific wants and needs.
- Quality of information: Make sure the information you send out is accurate and relevant so that you don’t lose the client’s trust.
- Use all available networks: Use the mode of communication that your client is most comfortable with, whether it be the phone, face-to-face or email.