CHOOSING the right property for the client is crucial when booking a villa holiday, so it's important that the agent is crystal clear about what the custmer wants.
Before making the booking, agents should establish what a client's priorities are. For example, do they want to be close to a beach or in a remote rural setting? Do they want to be near shops, amenities and nightlife? Are they comfortable driving overseas? Are there small children or elderly people in the party?
Meon Villas marketing director Susan Williams said villa bookings could be more time-consuming than hotel arrangements.
"Because it's very much a personal holiday the agent may need to have contact with the client two or three times during a booking period to ensure both parties understand what is needed," she said. "People want to know if beds in the second bedroom are single or double; if the cooker is gas or electric - they need to ask more questions than if they were going to a hotel."
Although independence is one of the key selling points of villa holidays, agents should reassure first-time villa users that they won't be left entirely on their own.
Clients are usually met at the airport and taken to their hire car and given maps, or shown to their villas, and reps are on hand to deal with questions or problems.
"You have to tell people that just because there's no hotel reception it doesn't mean the service isn't there," said Cosmos villa product manager Michele Polis. "Reps are on site and villa clients get special attention."
Switch-selling villa holidays to self-catering customers can offer agents a chance to increase earnings, and there are several other ways they can add to the value of the sale while maximising customer service.
Most villa holidays include car rental, and encouraging clients to upgrade the vehicle could benefit both customer and agent.
Sunworld Beach Villas product manager Nathalie Bourguet said: "The car might be a bit squeezed and upgrading could be more comfortable for a party of four. Changing from a basic A category car to a B costs from £19 a week extra, depending on the area."
She added: "Optional extras such as baby care packs or enhanced welcome grocery packs are also a great way of upping a sale and keeping clients happy at the same time."
Sovereign Villa Collection gives clients the opportunity to upgrade from charter flights to a scheduled service or book access to a VIP departure lounge.
Cosmos Beach Villas also offers pre-booked excursions and activities, such as sailing in Majorca or golfing in the Algarve, and is planning to extend the range for summer 2000.
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