Best Habits For Selling Travel Insurance
These days, most vacation rental companies and many destination resorts offer travel insurance, especially those who require large deposits or full pre-payment, with restrictive cancellation policies requiring 30 or more days out to receive any refund.
The good news is that travel insurance offers a triple-win situation. Guests win because their investment in a vacation is protected from unexpected disruptions such as due to weather events and health concerns. Vacation rental companies and resorts win because they do not have to choose between feeling badly about having to say “no refund” to a distraught guest experiencing personal travel drama or refunding guaranteed revenue. The third win is of course that lodging companies and many reservations sales agents are commissioned or incentivized for selling travel insurance.
Yet when our KTN team conducts either mystery shop calls or remote call scoring (evaluation of recordings of real conversations such as in Track Pulse), we typically either find that agents are too aggressive in pushing insurance to the point that it is a turn-off, or too meek in offering it so that callers don’t fully consider it.
Here are some best habits to share with your reservations sales team for use during both telephone (voice) conversations as well as in textual message exchanges by way of email or in-app messaging.
- Sell the vacation first. KTN’s Reservations Coaches often find that agents engage in a discussion about the travel insurance too early, thus derailing the conversation away from the primary the primary objectives of very call: to convince them that you are the best resort or company, this is a great vacation home or room, and now is the best time to commit. Remember that callers are already overwhelmed by choices. Do not give them another reason to procrastinate and “circle back.”
- Listen for buying signals. Once you are hearing buying signals such as “Okay, that last one sounds perfect,” start down the path of confirming details such as to get the full spelling, address, and contact information. Then it is the perfect time to segue into presenting the insurance option.
On a related note, if guests book online, many VR and resorts have the reservations salesperson call the guest to reconfirm details and to offer to arrange for guest service experiences. After doing so, it is the perfect time to present the option of securing travel insurance.
- Ask permission to cover the benefits of travel insurance. Too many agents either say “Did you want to buy the travel insurance?” or “Would you like me to tell you about the travel insurance?” Instead, say:
“Now Douglas, I know a lot of people automatically say no to travel insurance, but if I may, can I please go over a few of the benefits which I definitely think are worthwhile considering?”
- Use a “storytelling” approach. Rather than reading a list of features such as: “It covers…” or
“It offers…” Use a “you” approach to include the guest in the story. Examples: “If you or anyone in your party were…” or “If during your stay…, then you and your family…”
- Use personal recommendations and endorsements. Examples are, “I can tell you that if it were my vacation, I would definitely take the insurance.” Or specific to VR companies and resorts with large accommodations with many bedrooms, “Based on that this is such a large home/accommodation for a big party, I believe it would be worth the extra costs, especially since the fee will be split by 3 families.”
- Prepare the team for the most common FAQ’s. Make sure your reservations team is well-versed in the benefits of travel insurance and can provide reasonably definitive answers to the most frequently asked questions. When selecting an insurance provider, ask them about onboarding training as well as ongoing training support. Of course, your agents need to be sure not to “guarantee” any benefits and instead defer to the written details the guest will receive from the policy provider. However, your staff should at least be prepared to say with confidence, “To the best of my understanding, this will cover… and you can read on that on page 3 of the document I will send.”
Do not over-incentivize selling of travel insurance. I often find that when we hear agents pushing the travel insurance even more so than selling the vacation home or resort accommodation, it is because the staff’s main incentive is based on selling insurance. First and foremost, provide your staff with a well-designed incentive program for selling lodging accommodations, and then make the incentive for travel insurance a secondary incentive.