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The 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents: Cost vs. Value

September 22nd, 2008 . by Richard Earls

The following is Part Six of the series “The 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents

Top travel agents understand that value and cost are two very different things. Cost is only a component of value. Too often, however, travel agents let the cost of a travel package become the centerpiece of their presentation. Recognize that clients will always attempt to drive immediately to the “bottom line.” Don’t let them take you there. If the value is present, cost is always a secondary consideration. Years after the client returns home from a journey, it is the experience of the travel, not the cost, that they will remember. Top travel agents will not deprive their clients of the best travel experience the client can afford.

It is also true that a “good value” means different things to different people. A top of the line luxury product is a good value to some clients regardless of the price. For others, a good value means a clean, well-located budget property. An experienced travel consultant will spend a great deal of their time matching the personality and preferences of the individual client to exactly the right property and program. But this exercise is focused on value, not price.

One note here. Contrary to advice you sometimes hear, top travel agents do not “sell up” to their clients. Instead, they work in exactly the opposite fashion. They orient their clients from the outset to the best package the client can possibly afford. If the agent guides the client into a price range that is not comfortable, the client and agent can then trim back until they arrive at the best possible package for the client. “Selling up” is a sales trick, not a professional technique. As a travel consultant you want your client to have the best possible experience, and sometimes, even most often, that involves spending at the limits of the client’s comfort zone. Ensure that your client receives the best program they can afford. They will thank you for it later.

Exercise – Examine carefully the last few bookings you made for your client. Think over the entire planning process. Did you and the client work primarily to achieve the best possible experience or was cost your focus? If the former, congratulations! If the latter, what could you have done differently to place the emphasis on value rather than cost? The next time you are shopping for a major purchase, a car or a large appliance, pay special attention to the way the product is presented to you. Do they emphasize the features and benefits first and then move to price? Do they show you the top of the line and then move you to your comfort zone? If they are experienced sales people, they do. Otherwise. you will purchase a product that ultimately will not be as satisfying, a true disservice to you and the product.

Spend some time integrating the value principle into your psyche. Think about your own travel purchases. What are you willing to give up for price? Think about the best trips you have ever had. Now that the travel is over, how important is the price you paid relative to the experience? When you learn to tell that story, and tell it well, your clients will understand too.

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