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The 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents: Research Fees

September 23rd, 2008 . by Richard Earls

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

Great travel agents charge research fees. As one very bright agent told me recently, “I’m not auditioning to be anyone’s travel agent.” Call it a deposit if you like. Apply it to the client’s travel if you want. Perhaps only charge new clients a fee. But charge a fee up front.

No client who has a $100 service fee with you is going to take your research and book elsewhere. Charging a fee places you in the same professional ranks as attorneys and other service providers that charge a retainer. It is a good business practice and one that cinches the tone and expectations of a professional relationship. With a fee in place, you and a new client can relax into the relationship and get down to business.

Many of the agents who charge a fee began doing so only after being “burned” once too often by clients. That certainly is one way to learn a lesson, but the other way is to emulate the agents we interviewed. Their estimation of the value of their services was high, and they communicated that belief to their clients in the most tangible way possible: they charged a fee.

Exercise: Decide to work a research fee into your 2009 marketing plan. Charge new clients a retainer that is applied to their travel.

Read the following articles carefully: http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/12780 and http://www.travelandleisure.com/alist/2008/. Spend some time with each of these articles and map them onto the TRO study. Note the characteristics that made each of these agents rank so highly in the editors’ opinions.

TRO had developed a video on the 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents. Please watch it with our compliments and share it with other agents using the “Share Video” feature.

Tomorrow, we begin to build a marketing plan for 2009. Follow along with us as we lay out the steps necessary to put your travel planning practice over the top in 2009!

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