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Customer Service: Tips for becoming the best service-focused travel advisor


Whether zip-lining through a rainforest, learning about ancient civilizations, or lounging on a beach, clients look to you to plan that perfect vacation. Being a travel expert promises many thrills for potential clients. Sadly, it can also come with some hiccups along the way. As a travel advisor, you are going to work with so many different people, each one having their own set of demands, diverse choices, preferences, personalities, and expectations. There will certainly be times when you make mistakes and other times when you’ve done everything right, but someone is still unhappy with something related to your travel services, and it’s up to you to figure out how to best resolve that issue for them.
This is where customer service comes in!


What is Customer Service, and why is it important?

As a travel advisor, you know that providing exceptional customer service is critical to your success, but what exactly does “exceptional” mean? What are the characteristics of exceptional customer service, and how can you ensure you deliver it every time?

Let’s talk about what customer service is. Customer service is the experience your clients have when interacting with you and/or your travel agency — face-to-face, over the phone, or online. It starts from the initial outreach and continues all the way through post-vacation follow-up. It includes everything from how long it takes clients to get an answer from someone in your office when they call or email, to what you put on social media. It also includes whether or not they feel like their needs have been taken care of once they get through to someone, and even how professional and easy to navigate your website is.

The goal of customer service is simple: To provide a positive experience for your clients so that they recommend and refer you to new clients and book more trips for themselves!

To reach this goal, your clients need to feel valued and heard by you as their trusted Travel Advisor. If they believe their questions are answered in a way that makes sense for them, if they feel confident that you will resolve their issues quickly, with the best of intentions, and if they feel like they’re taken care of as people instead of just as dollar signs, they will more than likely have a great Customer Service experience.

As travel advisors, you work in a demanding environment where you have to deal with many different people requesting just about everything under the sun. You need to keep in mind that most people are very opportunistic – if they can get something (or at least ask for it), they will!

Here are a few pieces of advice to provide the best customer service experience to your clients!



A Personal, Human Touch

The best way to provide exceptional customer service as a travel advisor is by providing a personal, human touch. This is one of the biggest advantages travel advisors have over online travel agencies and other online booking platforms.

Make sure your clients know you care. Take time to learn about your clients’ lives before booking their trip. If they’re going on a honeymoon, ask them where they met and what it was like falling in love with each other. Congratulate them on their Big Day and ask about the specifics of their wedding. If their kids are going on the trip, ask them about their favorite memories together as a family so you can try to recreate that feeling/experience on their next trip. Ask them about special occasions and travel preferences. Really get to know their wants, needs, dreams, and desires because, as a travel advisor, you have the incredible opportunity to customize recommendations and build the best personalized travel experiences for each of your clients.

This is also a great way to better qualify your clients too. You should ask them about their upcoming trip and any activities they have in mind. Provide advice about their trip based on their travel preferences and based on the needs of the trip itself. For example, if they’re traveling with children or pets, you may suggest they fly during off-peak hours or book direct, non-stop flights instead of connecting flights. Knowing those small details will help you tailor their entire travel experience more effectively. Don’t forget to ask about seat assignments/arrangements, class of service, or airline preferences.

Similarly, if you’re booking a hotel room or cruise for your client, you should ask what accommodations they prefer before recommending a particular supplier or location. If they’re planning on spending time outdoors, you may suggest hotels or itineraries with pools or other outdoor amenities. You should remember to ask about higher/lower floors, if they prefer to be near an elevator, if they need connecting rooms, or what type of experience they would like (boutique-style or a mega ship/resort).

It’s also essential to ask your customers how their trip went when they’ve returned home. So many travel advisors miss this very crucial touchpoint and it’s probably one of the most important. This will give you an opportunity to see if there were any problems or issues with their travel and how they feel about using your service again in the future! Give your clients the opportunity to provide feedback and also show that your service has not ended even though the trip is over.




Be the Expert

As a travel advisor, you are the expert. In today’s world, people get so confused about where to purchase their vacation, which hotel or cruise option is the best, which destination provides a more ‘off-the-beaten-path’ experience, and even which restaurants to visit while on vacation. They become inundated by the various travel suppliers, deals, and inclusions that might be available to them. This is where you come in. It is your job to share all your knowledge and experiences with your clients about the hotels you’ve visited, the cruise ships you’ve toured, the destinations you’ve researched, and the excursions that will round out their vacation. You are not just an order-taker, and you’re also not just selling travel packages; you are providing your clients with your personalized service and expertise that they do not have access to on their own – so don’t be afraid to let it shine through!
When you’re speaking with your clients, remember that they are looking for someone who can quickly answer their questions and provide them with the confidence they need to make an informed decision. Being confident with your answers and presenting solutions will help them feel at ease when it comes to their vacation investment.
The truth is, your client doesn’t necessarily expect you to know everything and have all the answers right when they meet with you, but they are trusting that, as the expert, you have the resources and capabilities to find them the answers that are in their best interest. THAT is what you should be confident about – knowing that you can always reach out to fellow travel advisors or your preferred supplier partners and destination specialists to equip you with all the right answers for your clients!
Travel advisors are provided so many opportunities to experience different vacation options from Familiarization (FAM) Trips to conferences, site inspections to ship tours, to seminars-at-sea, and so much more. You have an upper hand to provide your clients with information about the industry that they may never find by searching online.
Through these personal experiences, you can easily help clients decide which hotel or cruise ship to choose for their vacation, how much time they should spend in each city, and what activities to do while they’re there. You can also help them determine which transportation options work best for their desired travel experience based on their budget, and give them an experience they might’ve otherwise not known about by booking through online travel agencies. (you know, like taking a donkey ride from the Santorini cruise port instead of walking)


Here are some great ways you can show your expertise as a travel advisor:

  • Stay up-to-date on current events affecting travel (weather, political climate, etc.)
  • Keep track of new airlines and routes opening up so that you can share them with clients
  • Find out what your client’s favorite type of vacation is and recommend destinations based on that information
  • Know the ins and outs of different types of hotels—from budget options to luxury hotels—and be able to give recommendations based on those preferences as they apply to your target client demographic
  • Learn about the different types of activities available in various destinations so that you can recommend things like water-based excursions, hiking trips, or just general relaxation
  • Be able to recommend some local restaurants, bars, and clubs in different cities, if applicable, as well
  • Understand the complexities and differences between travel protection companies or policies and how they apply to your client’s reservation
    The more comfortable you are with providing information, the more likely your client will be to trust your advice when it comes time for booking decisions.




Be Available, Keep in Touch, and Set Proper Expectations

We all know that it’s essential to be available for your clients. They will need to get in touch with you and sometimes might even require your attention at a moment’s notice. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s about the importance of setting proper boundaries with our business, our clients, and our personal lives. For your business, it is very smart to establish working hours. More importantly, your clients should understand what your typical response time is and who they should contact during travel or when you are out of office.
Your clients should have an easy way to get in touch with you or transact business. If you make it difficult for your clients to contact you or you make them hunt for the right information, you will either lose the client or earn yourself a poor review. Be sure to put your contact information on every page of your website, on every quote/booking, and in your email signature!
Don’t wait until the last minute to get back with your clients. If they email or call you on a Friday afternoon, try not to wait until Monday morning before getting back to them. Something as simple as an auto-responder or a quick follow-up email is much better than just leaving them unattended.
As I mentioned before, when you are traveling or you are out of office, it is a good idea to set up an auto-responder detailing the first point of contact for your clients so they will receive a message explaining exactly who they should contact and how long you will be away. This will also help them to know when they can expect a response from you, which gives them peace of mind and helps them feel more confident about booking with you in the future. People don’t mind boundaries, as long as you are upfront about expectations and do not make them feel lost or unimportant because of them.

Another great way to keep in touch after receiving a booking is to send your clients an email or card thanking them for their business. It’s also a good idea to include information about next steps in your process, such as when you’ll be contacting them again or how they can track the status of their trip. You should also set up proper automations to increase and manage touchpoints for each stage of the trip.
Consider your client/traveler touchpoints. We all know that automation helps make businesses more efficient, but emails detract from the personal touch and personal experience. While automation emails keep your clients informed, they do not help build the personal relationship that clients expect from their travel advisor. Phone calls, handwritten notes, thoughtful cards, and even grabbing a cup of coffee go so much further. Most importantly, do not forget to reach out to clients during their vacation. We all get busy, but this touchpoint, specifically, will prove that you are thinking of your client and they are not just a commission check or a number in your database. Then, of course, don’t forget about post-travel outreach as well!



Go Above and Beyond

One of the best ways to provide exceptional customer service as a travel advisor is to offer assistance that goes above and beyond your normal job description – this is what you will be remembered for!
As a travel advisor, you are expected to match your client with the perfect vacation experience. Beyond that, you should always stay in contact with them and create touchpoints as we mentioned above. So, how do you go above and beyond what you’re already expected to do?

Here are some great tips to really enhance your client’s vacation experience—

1. Request Amenities. Contact the hotel before your clients’ arrival to ensure their room is ready. Use this time to request an upgrade, gift, or welcome amenity from you as their travel advisor. If they’re celebrating an occasion, now is the time to let the hotel or supplier know as well.

2. Provide Decorations. If they’re traveling on a cruise, you could purchase a door or room décor package to showcase their arrival, or maybe send some chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne (depending on the cruise line).

3. Travel Guides. If you have an itinerary builder app (similar to Travefy, AXUS, or Umapped), you could provide sample itineraries of things for them to do while in the destination. You may also want to consider providing Travel Guides (LINK TRAVEL GUIDES) depending on the destination.

4. Flight Schedules. On the day of their trip, you could review their flights to ensure they will not miss any connections, and if it looks like they might, you could proactively map alternative routes to stay ahead of other travelers.

5. Weather Updates. Before their trip, you can provide them with weather updates and packing lists.

6. Peace of Mind. If they are feeling nervous about traveling alone, you should highlight safety protocols and explain how your supplier will be available to them every step of the way. You can also provide in-destination contact information and your personal contact information to give them added peace of mind.

7. Get them excited. If they’re excited about a particular excursion, make sure you highlight it and explain why they absolutely NEED to include it in their vacation experience. If you’re making a large amount of commission – you could even consider purchasing the excursion for them!

8. Drinks. Almost EVERYONE loves getting free drinks. Have you ever ordered a bottle of wine for a client at an all-inclusive? Yes, they can drink the wine for free, but they LOVE the fact that you just provided their own private bottle, exclusively for them. It doesn’t even have to be something fancy, just something special.


The next time you have a client needing a little extra attention, consider one of these simple strategies. It will go a long way toward making them happy. A happy client will be encouraged to think about you when they are ready to book their next vacation and praise your services by referring their friends and family as well.

The top travel advisors in the country know that providing exceptional customer service will set them apart from other travel agents. Whether you work in a brick-and-mortar location or operate strictly online, this standard of excellence will serve as your guiding light. Your top priority with customers should always be offering them exceptional customer service, which will always pay off in the end!




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Steven Gould

Steven Gould

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