Getting a quote out in a timely manner can be the difference between winning the deal, or letting it go to a competitor. This is all too true when it comes to the travel industry; Tour operators are competing with self-service online options that promise speed, as well as a growing consumer desire for instant gratification…it’s a tough world out there!
Fortunately, when it comes to speeding up your pre-sales processes, there are several things you can implement in your business to get your prospective customers moving through the sales funnel quicker.
Why your lead response time is so important
Imagine walking into a store to buy something, only to be told that you’ll have to wait for 24-48 hours to get an answer from the shop assistant…it’s bound to kill your enthusiasm for your purchase, right?! When a lead comes to you, they’re more than likely visiting with an intention to buy, or at the least wanting to get more information so that they can make an informed purchasing decision. Taking advantage of this mindset and ensuring you supply the information they desire quickly is undoubtedly going to optimise your sales opportunity.
According to the Harvard Business Review, only 37% of businesses respond to their leads within an hour, and the overall average lead response time was a staggering 42 hours! Although you may be responding quickly initially, tour operators miss out on business all too often when it comes to that next oh-so-important phase: quotes.
The time it takes to respond to a lead is becoming increasingly important as today’s consumers buy differently than they used to. According to a paper published by Google and CEB, the availability of information online means that on average consumers are already 57% through the sales process before they even begin speaking to you or your team. They’ve already performed hours of research, read reviews, and received recommendations on the holiday they’re wanting you to create a quote for, which is why it’s more important than ever to create a quote quickly and keep them on their journey towards the holiday of their dreams!
If you’re still not convinced that lead response time matters, the same Harvard Business Review report we mentioned earlier also found that businesses who attempted to reach leads within the hour were almost seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with decision makers. When it comes to leads, speed matters and we’ve got a few starters that will get you set on your journey to faster response times.
Identify pressure points
When you’re running your business day-to-day, the processes and systems you’ve been running and using for years may not feel like they’re slowing you down. However, chances are, if you took some time out to take a birds-eye-view, there will be at least one inefficiency that you can tidy up that will shave time off where it matters.
Is there more than one staff member involved in the quote creation phase? Double-handling documents like quotes is one of the key areas where delays and errors start to occur. If the number of people in the process can be minimised, great! You’ll be doing wonders for your lead response time already.
If you have intentionally added people into your processes, as a means of checking for errors and providing approvals, there are still ways you can make them more efficient. Kanban is a workflow methodology which allows you to visualise your workflow and reduce bottlenecks by applying limits to the number of items you can have in any one stage. For example: in order to move a new task into “Doing” one of the existing tasks from “Doing” needs to be completed and moved to the next stage. It helps your team stay on track, and ensures your work is always moving forward in an ordered and consistent manner.
Our favourite tool is Trello. It’s an online cloud-based system, which used Kanban methodology to help businesses like yours implement better workflow processes.
Review your systems
There are hundreds of options available nowadays, unfortunately, not all have been created equal, some will cost you all-important time in the early quote creation stages. Many tour operators will begin by using Excel and Word to produce documents and manage back-office processes. When you inevitably start to grow, these systems are likely one of the first to start creating headaches for you and your team. There are no safety checks in place, time spent double-checking to avoid costly errors will slow you down and probably stress you out! If you’re also dealing in the business of tailor-made travel, there is likely going to be even more time that you’ll need to invest in wrangling Word documents to create the perfect quote and final itinerary for your customers.
The tools you use to create your quotes and itineraries are critical when it comes to efficiency. One system may take hours to produce an itinerary, whereas another system might take just minutes.
Switching to end-to-end tour operator software means your business will be running using software that’s been built with the soul purpose of helping tour operators become more efficient. Machine precision means human errors are no more and automation means manual document creation takes minutes, not hours.
As other tour operators in the industry continue to pick up new systems the standard of responsiveness will continue to grow. Airlines are adopting chatbots to provide more instantaneous responses directly to their customers, and WeChat has announced a new focus on providing tour operators with tools to connect to Chinese tourists in the United States. It’s more important than ever to ensure you keep up with the changing industry standards and bring tools into your business that will help you serve your customers more expediently.
Keep communication channels open
This one’s simple, but can be the difference between a lost client, and one that decides to stay. Creating a clear path for communication between you and your prospective customer will mean you can keep them updated on progress, and they can easily reach out if they’re getting itchy feet while waiting for their quote. A little effort here will go a long way, and if your customer signs-on, you’ll have done wonders by solidifying a working relationship built on trust and your efficiency as you move into the itinerary creation phase.
We know the idea of changing things can be daunting, but there are so many options and resources available to help make the move a smooth one. There are several ways you can speed up your lead response time – it all depends on your business and how far you’re wanting to take it. To help you take the next step we’ve prepared a few more resources you might find useful on your journey too much faster quote delivery: