The use of consultative sales in the Tour Operator industry

A Tour Operator is part of consultative sales. Consultative sales is a method where the salesperson plays the role of a consultant by first assisting the customer in identifying his or her needs and then suggesting products that satisfy those needs. It is possible to substitute personal sales with this sales approach. In personal selling businesses try to sell a product by meeting face-to-face with the customer. The personal presentation, body language and personality is important to encourage the customer to buy the product.

Looking at the creation of added value in sales processes from DeVincentis and Rackham there are 5 stages: Need recognition, evaluate options, solution composition, purchasing, and implementation. We are going to take a closer look at these stages for the Tour Operator industry.

The first stage is need recognition, Tour Operators can add value in the early stages of the sales process by defining appropriate solutions that meet customer requirements. (Ed Peelen & Rob Beltman, 2015) For Tour Operators customer knowledge is important, by knowing the customer’s needs and wants the consulting itself becomes more valuable.

The second stage is evaluate options, Tour Operators can design and provide tailored solutions and inform customers about possibilities in markets. (Ed Peelen & Rob Beltman, 2015) Holiday packages can be tailored to meet the customer’s wants and needs through a consultative approach. A Tour Operator has many options to tailor a holiday which makes it easier to differentiate products and services from competitors by adding value. A before manufactured holiday may fit, but a custom-tailored holiday is fitting better.

The third stage is solution composition, Tour Operators can provide customers with advice and alleviate worries. (Ed Peelen & Rob Beltman, 2015) Most Tour Operators provide extra services like insurances, brochures, travel tips etc. When looking at Tour Operator TUI for example, they have a special category called extra & services. In this category they discuss the topics comfort, service, insurances, travel related products, seat reservation and brochures. These extra services make it easier for the customers and help customers to be prepared for their holiday.

The fourth stage is purchases, Tour Operators can check up on purchasing configuration and maybe consult on matching products. (Ed Peelen & Rob Beltman, 2015) Nowadays more Tour Operators find that they have to compete on the basis of low base prices for the core services like flights, accommodation, attractions etc. Tour Operators find that higher profit margins can be attained once the customer is enjoying the service by selling additional products and services. Personal selling can be an interesting aspect for Tour Operators to improve up-selling or cross-selling. (Scott McCabe, 2012)

The fifth stage is implementation, Tour operations can consult on usage issues and solve problems. (Ed Peelen & Rob Beltman, 2015) The advantage of using a Tour Operator for your holiday is that you can always call them when there is a problem with your holiday package. Problems that are raised before you go on holiday, during your holiday or even after your holiday.

Tour Operators use the consultative sales technique in which personal selling is an important aspect. As can be seen in the different stages of the creation of added value in sales processes Tour Operators are a useful tool by booking a holiday that fits your wants and needs by providing tailor made packages, giving advice, problem solving etc.

Bibliography

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.

Scott McCabe. (2012). Marketing Communications in Tourism and Hospitality. New york: Routledge

TUI. (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.tui.nl/

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