Travel Agents: Help Clients Get More From Their Smartphone

Travel Agents: Help Clients Get More From Their SmartphoneMany of your clients will be travelling with an iPhone, Android phone, or other smartphone. Even savvy phone users who use it regularly at home sometimes struggle when they are outside that familiar environment. We have all heard the stories of bill shock from mobile phone customers who forgot to turn off data roaming when they were travelling. But they don’t have to turn off their phones altogether or leave them at home. Instead, show them how to use their phone more effectively.

Here are seven things you can do to help your clients use their phones better. As you read them, keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a lot of time with each client explaining these things in detail. In fact, you don’t have to spend any time at all – you could just provide this information on your Web site, and remind every client to check it out before they travel.

1. Learn how to take better photos

Of course, we know how important photos and videos are to relive experiences and memories from our holidays. So show your clients how to take better photos and videos.

There are (literally) thousands of resources online for better photography. Start by searching YouTube for photography tips, and then embed these videos on your Web site (it’s free).

You can also show your clients how to use simple accessories like a portable tripod, a Bluetooth remote shutter, using your headphone buttons as a shutter, and even the much-maligned selfie stick. Keep these on hand to demonstrate them to clients, and then tell them where they can buy them.

2. Connect to Facebook

Some of your clients won’t be on Facebook because they have never seen the need to join (and that’s fair enough). But going on holiday is a perfect reason to join Facebook, so they can keep in touch with family and friends, share their journey as it’s happening, and post photos and videos. So encourage them to join Facebook, and show them how to use the Facebook app on their phone.

Reassure them that joining Facebook doesn’t mean they are sharing their entire private life with the world. But do guide them in using it safely – for example, only connecting with people they know and trust, not sharing confidential information, and so on.

3. Get mobile data that doesn’t cost the earth

Many people have mobile plans that give them access to data at a low rate when they are at home, but those costs can be astronomical when they are away (and have roaming turned on). Show your clients how to get affordable access to data when they are travelling. For example:

  • Use Wi-Fi where it’s available (see the next item for more details).
  • Swap in a local SIM when they travel
  • Buy a special SIM designed for travellers, such as Australia Post’s TravelSIM
  • Ask their mobile phone provider about reciprocal arrangements with other countries (for example, Vodafone plans include international roaming for $5 a day)
  • As a last resort, learn how to turn on international roaming for the times it’s absolutely essential

4. Use Wi-Fi safely and securely

Even if travellers don’t have mobile data at all while away from home, they can connect to Wi-Fi networks to access Google, Facebook, online maps, and other data services. Many places around the world provide free or low-cost Wi-Fi, so show your clients how to use it. But also warn them of the dangers of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.

5. Use Skype or Viber to contact family and friends

International phone calls are not as expensive as they used to be, but they are still an unnecessary expense when there are low-cost alternatives such as Skype and Viber. These services use the Internet to make phone calls (and send messages), so they are a fraction of the cost. In fact, if you’re calling from one user to another (a Skype user calling another Skype user, or a Viber user calling another Viber user), it’s free.

Encourage your clients to get Skype or Viber on their phone, and tell them to tell their family and close friends to do the same. They can then make free calls from anywhere in the world (or at least, it only costs them as much as they are paying for Wi-Fi or mobile data – as explained above).

6. Store important documents

Most people will travel with a sheaf of papers – their e-tickets, itinerary, accommodation, maps, train timetables, and so on. It’s good to have these on hand, but also encourage your clients to keep electronic copies on their phone. If they know how to use apps like Dropbox or Evernote, they can use them for this purpose. But even if they don’t, all they have to do is take a photo!

In fact, it’s worth reminding them to do this for anything they need to remember temporarily on their trip – for example, the licence plate of their hire car, a taxi driver’s registration card, the place in the car park where they left their car, a map on the wall showing local attractions, and so on.

7. Look after your phone

Finally, give them simple tips about how to keep their phone safe and secure – for example:

  • Putting a password lock on their phone (and how to avoid the most common passwords, which are easy to guess)
  • Using automatic online backup services like iCloud or Dropbox (but using them in a way that doesn’t chew up mobile data)
  • Keeping your phone (and other electronic devices) close to you or in the hotel safe at all times
  • Being alert to scammers, thieves and pickpockets who prey on tourists
  • Using apps like Find My iPhone or Android Device Manager to track down lost or stolen phones

Which of these ideas can you use?

Some of these ideas might seem obvious to you, but don’t be fooled into thinking they are obvious to your clients as well! Even seasoned travellers won’t always know them all, and even experienced phone users don’t know everything about how best to use their phone when travelling. By sharing these simple ideas with them, you help improve their travel experience, and position yourself as an expert guide, not just an order taker.

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