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Booked. What Now?

Keeping your newly booked clients informed is the foundation for giving them the trip of a lifetime.
booked what now

From the moment clients book with you until they are in your care, maintain a steady stream of communication with them. Above all, make sure they understand the demands of the trip—saddle time, hiking distance, sitting time, climate, etc.—so they can prepare physically, mentally, and pack suitable apparel.
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Outfitters engage regularly with clients before a trip is booked, but what about after the booking? It’s important to keep communication flowing after a trip is logged. It will save time and increase the number of clients who opt up for a another trip.

Focus your post-booking communication on trip preparation, schedule details, and similar logistical info. If you put time into making sure clients thoroughly understand all aspects of a trip, it will help prevent broken expectations, misunderstandings, and limit last-minute client inquiries. Here are tips that have worked for me through the years.

Getting Their Heads Right
The first step to getting clients to buy into doing their part during a trip is to help them fully understand the experience. In the case of hunting, this means sharing the details of a typical hunt in your operation, how much hiking, what elevations, shot distances, apparel, how much saddle time, etc. If you’re fishing, it might be casting distances, hike-in distances, fly or spin, or typical number of catches per day.

You’ll really need to be clear about the physical demands. It’s the difference between a wonderful experience and a miserable test of survival.

There are several ways to accomplish this.

Make sure the client has a conversation with a senior member of your guide team right after the booking. Your trusted employee can answer any questions right off the bat. They should be the contact for other questions that will inevitably pop up.

If you’ve already tapped out your people, you can use references, that is, other clients, to share their experiences. Things such as what they did to prepare and things they would do differently for their next trip are very valuable to a future client. Plus, it brings the new guy into the fold and he meets other clients who appreciate your operation. And your regular guy will appreciate taking that “ownership” role in your operation. You can simply ask your regular client to post on your site and to share photos and videos of the trip. Some regular guests might be amenable to actually calling a new client to answer questions or share their trip details. Clients love to be a part of the outfitting world when they are back in their everyday life.

Another great approach is using your website to regularly post your photos, trip details, checklists, and videos that address prepping for the trip. Through personal experience, I have found videos in particular to be the most powerful way to communicate. Folks today are more likely to watch a video on your hunts and setups than to read either pages of documentation, brochures, or websites.

Once your client understands the need to prepare, encourage them to arrive in the best physical shape possible. Make sure you emphasize that they will enjoy the experience far more if they’re in the pink. Getting in shape can be as simple as dropping some pounds or engaging in regular exercise, such as hiking with a backpack.

This same message applies to shooting skills. Most hunters can shoot well at the range with a good rest and at known distances, but making a good shot in the field requires practice that simulates a real field experience. Encourage clients to establish a plan to hone their shooting skills. If they are coming with friends or family, suggest they train in a group so partners can be accountable and meet goals. Be sure to occasionally ask how their training and preparation are going and, of course, offer suggestions.

What They Need, Not What They Might Need
The last area where clients generally have questions involves what gear to bring and how to pack for the trip. This is especially true for Western pack-in hunts or Alaska fly-ins where weight and space are limited.

On one hand, adequate gear and sufficient clothing are required for a comfortable and successful hunt. However, there is a big difference between bringing what they need versus what they might need. If you can provide these three lists, you’ll help them tremendously: a packing checklist, a list of what is provided at camp, and a list of what guides carry in their packs.

To further help clients understand the apparel and gear they will need and how to pack it, make a video that shows the gear you recommend. Clients appreciate more information rather than less.

Timely, effective communication with clients can make a real difference in earning satisfied clients. At the trip’s end, you’ll see better reviews online and your business will grow.

Bob Terwilliger has been hunting, fishing, and spending a lot of time in the Colorado backcountry for over 50 years.

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