Follow Up: The Skill that Pays Off

I recently came across some alarming statistic... 

Sales mission  participants meeting with packaged tour planners through Fire Starter Brands.

Sales mission participants meeting with packaged tour planners through Fire Starter Brands.

80% of sales require 5 follow up calls after the meeting. 44% of salespeople give up after 1 follow-up. 

Source: The Marketing Donut

I’d be a very rich man if I had a dollar for every time someone said, ‘this industry is based on relationships.” Just like a healthy marriage or a great friendship, the spark may be there at the beginning, but it takes time, multiple shared experiences and trust to build a healthy relationship.

Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.
— Mark Twain

Before we get to the pointers, we’ve got to understand why tour operators value vendor relationships as much as they do. It’s their reputation! 

The tour operator has to work hard to convince every passenger that they can be trusted with both their trip deposit and personal safety while traveling, capable of planning a quality experience, smart enough to use reliable vendors and experienced enough to have contingencies in place in the event that things go wrong. More often than not, an operator will call upon the vendor they feel will represent them best before the vendor with the best price or newest wow item.

Here are just a few of the valuable benefits of great follow up:

  • It’s the best way to show a prospect that you mean what you said in your initial pitch.

  • It’s the cornerstone to building a meaningful relationship and maintaining the trust of existing customers.

  • It ignites opportunities for referrals, new opportunities and sales growth.

  • It helps to establish your personal reputation for reliability, professionalism and industry presence.

Here are seven great follow up tips that will help you ignite new interest in your product, reach deep into those pockets of opportunity and spark new sales channels in any industry.

  1. Be timely. There’s that old phrase, “a day late and a dollar short.” In a recent study by, they found that as many as 50% of all sales go to the first salesperson to contact a prospect.

    Show your prospect that you’re dedicated to being their trusted vendor by getting them the information they need in a timely manner. 

  2. Be different. Find a way to stand out from the competition. If you can’t lure them in for a site visit right away, come up with a way to deliver your visitor experience to the buyers’ office. Will it be a small package with spa products to showcase the hotel amenities, a fun customized t-shirt that has the prospect’s logo next to yours, an overnight package with samples of your restaurant’s goodies, or a hand-written note with an article, photo or trinket that relates back to the conversation you had with the prospect?

    Find something that will set you aside. 

  3. Be easy. You’re far more likely to get the sale if you remove any obstacles between you and the buyer. Make it easy for the buyer to contact you. Give them simple options that they can easily communicate to their customers. Simplify your contracts, payment policies and booking process so that the buyer has more time to concentrate on getting more people on the trip and bringing you more business.

  4. Be a friend. You’ve got to be a friend before you have a friend. Take time to ask the prospect how you can help and be prepared to act even when it doesn’t mean a direct sale for you. I can’t tell you how many times a travel planner has called me for a referral even when I don’t represent a possible solution. It’s important that they trust my judgement and look to me as a reliable source of information - when I’ve got a product that I believe will help their business, they listen.

  5. Get to the point and have a point. Don’t waste the prospects’ time calling to “check in.” Instead, call because you’ve got something that’s relevant to the prospect - new rates, excess capacity, new product that you know they’ll like, extended hours, a special offer, etc.

  6. Connect using multiple inboxes. In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect; today it takes 8. Source:  TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group

    Find ways to deliver your message so that it is visual, audible, tactile & experiential. Consider a marketing mix that includes multiple tactics like print and direct mail campaignsface-to-face sales callspersonal outreach and, of course, email.

  7. Use technology wisely. Whether you choose to set reminders in Outlook, assign tasks on or keep track of opportunities through some other CRM, use technology to help you manage the unique follow up needs of each prospect. 

    Use technology to track your last correspondence with the prospect and plan your next. Create unique campaigns, personalized to each prospect, that include the multiple tactics mentioned above on a timeline that fits within the prospects’ buying cycle.

3 Steps to Better Trade Marketing, Better Connections, and Better Results



When you’re not seeing the results and success you want in your business, it’s time to talk to a travel trade marketing expert.



During your call, tell us about your vision. Before you hang up, you’ll have the outline to a plan that will lead you to your goals.



Start welcoming more visitors, generating more leads and building stronger relationships with travel trade buyers.


tourism consultant group travel trade marketing domestic international ekstrom

Stephen Ekstrom is a well-recognized tourism marketing expert whose influence reaches over 500,000,000 travelers every year. He's been profiled by the New York Times and appeared on CBS, NBC and NY1. He is a fixture in the travel trade and has served as a board member, expert panelist, committee chair, mentor and program facilitator. Fire Starter Brands, founded by Ekstrom in 2010, manages a network of nearly 5,500 opted-in global travel trade buyers, advising and assisting smart travel industry suppliers and destination marketers. Stephen currently lives in South Florida with his two dogs, Match & Rudy.