Tip of The Month: How’s Your Year Going?

Take a deep breath. Why? The first quarter of 2009 is behind us. How did you do? Was the quarter better or worse than you expected? More importantly, how well did your travel insurance program sell? I am very interested to hear the good, the bad and the ugly answers to that question. Seriously, please send me an email to icymrot@travelinsured.com or to your Travel Insured sales manager and let us know.

The best way to measure the success of your travel insurance program is to compare the number of policies sold against the number of trips you have sold this year. The result is your truest indicator of how well your travel insurance year has gone so far. I would dare to guess that many of you are going to be surprised, and not all happily, at what you see.

The most frequent question I am asked this year is: “How are other agents doing?” Some of you have told me you do not understand how an agency could be doing well right now. While they are in the minority, I know some very successful agencies right now that so far are having one of their best years in 2009. They credit their results to being proactive in the market place and providing measurable value to their clients. That includes a firm recommendation of travel insurance.

Regardless of how much your clients like you as a person, they come back to you because they understand you provide value they cannot find on the internet or from another travel agent. Most travel agents sell the same products, so you must provide knowledge and expertise not available elsewhere to separate yourself from the competition and be successful.

This topic is not new. Many of you have heard this from speakers at trade shows and industry events, so I am going to focus on your travel insurance program. If you are struggling with travel insurance sales right now, here are practices you need to question because they are likely hurting your results.

  • Why offer multiple travel insurance companies and allow the customer to pick?
  • Why offer tour supplier insurance that does not offer bankruptcy/default coverage, reimburse in cash or protect airline tickets?

Let’s tackle the first bullet point. Over the past month many of you have forwarded marketing emails from different travel insurance companies stating that they have the latest and the greatest coverage and the highest commissions. They encourage you to visit http://www.insuremytrip.com and see how they blow away the competition. Well I am here to encourage you to do the same thing, but for a different reason.

When you compare plans you will discover a reality: Everyone offers virtually the same coverage. Yes, there are differences but they are minor. The point of differentiation is not in the coverage offered. The difference is in the value or lack of value provided. I am taking the risk here that some of you may question the value we provide. I am certain, however, that we deliver to you the best value in the industry. Here is why:

  • Our Sales Reps are ready and willing to walk through your front door to meet with you face to face anywhere across the country.
  • We offer free annual and quarterly business planning to help you manage your travel insurance program and maximize your potential.
  • We deliver a commission protection program offered at no charge.
  • We provide tools to help you grow your sales: weblinks, waivers, easy access.

My intention here is not to tell you what value is but to provide you with feedback we have received from our agent partners. Everyone will perceive value differently. It is one thing to offer the “best product ever.” It is something more to support that product with good people.

The same goes for you and your agency. Every customer will perceive the value you provide differently, it is up to you to know what that is for each client. A very successful agency owner told me last week to be successful in this market you must take the approach that you are in the business of selling travel and not in the travel business.

You have a distinct advantage over the internet and the agency down the street. You get to ask questions! Let’s describe four key value points that distinguish your own agency business:

  • You are the travel expert who can ask and answer questions instead of providing 15 quotes on a webpage.
  • When you ask the right questions you can consult with your client and help them every step of the way. You can help them make the most of their vacation dollars.
  • Your expertise-based recommendations can create the dream vacation your client is seeking.
  • You will get the call the next time they want to travel, or even better, refer friends and family who want to travel.

When you offer two travel insurance products to the client it tells them you are not confident enough in either policy to strongly recommend it. This significantly decreases the chance that they will purchase one. One possibility is they will pick a plan based on cheapest price, thereby missing out on needed coverage, and raising the chance that they will hold you responsible for not recommending the right coverage.

The second possibility is that they purchase the tour supplier coverage and that supplier goes belly up. My good friend Jim Terraciano at Cruise & Land Affairs sums it up best, “What good is a supplier’s cancel for any reason or other options if there is no supplier default to say they will be there to back your client up?” Think Far & Wide, Renaissance Cruise Lines and more recently Aloha Airlines.

One way to increase your sales, whether in travel insurance or in the number of trips you sell, is to make one recommendation so strongly that you do not suggest alternatives. Your recommendation should cover their travel provider, their insurance and any added travel features they have asked you for.

Travel insurance can be intimidating and that is why we have the largest field sales team in the country. We want to turn your hesitation into confidence. Call your Sales Rep promptly if you have a question or need training. Ask them to sit down with you face to face and get you on the path to increasing your sales!


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