3 types of non-listeners–a rant!

Posted on by in Editorial Musings

I pride myself on my knowledge. Whenever I become involved in any endeavor, I really try to become as much of an expert as I can. I take the time to do extra research. I ask for opinions from other experts. I learn from my mistakes and I am very willing to share my knowledge with others. Sometimes I am a fast learner and other times it takes more time to become proficient.  I am sure you are no different.

We hang our shingle (or our URL) out as a travel professional. We explain what we do ad-nauseum.  We network. We travel. We read. We research. We surf the web. We attend training. We listen to webinars. We speak with suppliers. All of this together makes us what we are-professionals! We are experts in our field. So why are there clients and prospects that just don’t get it and feel they know better?  Why call us in the first place?

I specialize in single parent travel. Every family situation is unique and there are countless hurdles that might pop up in a travel experience. Passports and the specialized forms for a MIA parent are the norm as are authorization letters from non-traveling parents. We handle recommendations for experiences that fit in the comfort level of the family. We put together families that want to cut expenses. We arrange carpools. We offer advice on all of the other issues that pop up. Just this past August, a single mom called me at 4am before an 8am departure to Turks & Caicos—her son had been abducted by her former husband. Yes, we handled that with an open reservation at the resort and a compassionate airline employee. We recommended an attorney from our database as well as a private investigator. The child was back in mom’s arms in four days and they were on their way to a wonderful vacation—albeit four days later. Oh, and dad was cooling his heels in the clink. This is what we do. But there are three types of people that I have a difficult time managing.

It really irritates me when we put forth advice based on experience, training, and education only to be told, “Well, my boyfriend’s sister says that I should do it this way.” Hello? If you already know the answer you want, why are you wasting my time?

While that customer already knows the answer they want, another is just not happy with the answer you give. You know the type, “The brochure said from $299 for a week on Royal Caribbean, so why can’t I get on the Oasis of the Seas over Christmas for that price?” No matter what you do. No matter how hard you try to explain, you are not going to please this client.

The third type that really irritates me is the one that takes no action at all. They call you for your advice and do nothing with it. How does one handle that situation when you reach out to close the sale or clarify the information and there is no response? I am reluctant to believe that there is a segment of society that gets their kicks out of ignoring travel professionals.

I wish I had the answers; but I don’t. And it is not unique to travel. I have seen it in some of my other interests. People call you for advice and then ignore it. Go figure. How do you deal with it? What are some of your best tips for working with these three types?

  10 thoughts on “3 types of non-listeners–a rant!

  1. 1Heather Dolstra says:

    Just as the adage “lead by example” gets you pretty much nowhere with rude people, I think that the three client types you mention are equally tough to re-train. Changing adult behavior takes more time and expertise (and drugs) than we have at our disposal. I recommend Tums. And John, thanks for an article to which all of us can relate. It gave me a real chuckle.

  2. 1Rick Garrett says:

    I would start by saying that until they’ve bought from you they are not clients but rather prospects, and clearly the average potential of prospects is quite a bit lower online than it is in a brick and mortar setting. The online prospect is much more likely on a fishing expedition and those that are count on the anonymity of being online since they know deep down that they are wasting your time. Figuring out who the tire kickers are early in the game is an art and I for sure have not figured it out yet, and I do all my business online.

    Clearly though, in your 1st and 3rd examples, the prospect is looking for validation in the first case, and basic information in the 3rd. You can’t assume they are doing nothing with your information, they may very well use it to book directly. I don’t understand how people can think it’s ok to steal your information with no intention to purchase, but I think a lot of people out there don’t understand how we earn our living. In any event if you are willing to give it away for free there will always be takers.

    The second example, those that can’t handle the truth, are just being willfully obtuse. The layman’s term for that is that they are idiots and we must be patient with those who are less fortunate in the mental ability area.

  3. 1Devora Tweedell says:

    I tell certain clients to please go ahead and book it where the lower rate is and to not call me again. I am not a free source of information so to speak.
    I also tell people when they say someone told me this way, to please not call me again and I wish them luck!
    If they just use me for information and do not call or email me back, I LOVE to email them or call and leave a message that I just got a free upgrade offer for them and it is such a shame they did not get back to me in time! What can I say, I am sure this irrates them.
    I really dislike people that waste my time but it does happen for sure. I am learning to pick and choose more carefully who I work with.

    Sincerely,
    Devora

  4. I relate to the situation and understand the frustration but at the end of the day I believe in the philosophy that the customer is always right. I think it is the agent’s responsibility to calmly and cooly point out that it takes a lot of efforts to help all of our clients, including extra in-depth work we will do to try to best help you. This establishes empathy by directly letting the client know you are working hard for them without sounding like you owe us or sounding aggressive/arrogant. Then if they later say that is incorrect or no thanks, you need to say well we always will do our best to help you and if you choose to book another way of course we are disappointed since we spent a lot of time and efforts and we would have loved to have worked with you. But thank you. This approach is a customer service model that is more professional without frustrations getting the better of the agent, and it is more likely to cause respect by the client. It’s tough when agents are so busy and rewarded sometimes only on sales – but never let professionalism or a cool spirit be taken from you. A humble spirit pays dividends and it filters into your personal life also as you feel good that you have not lost your cool…

  5. WoW! what a great article and what great responses. In my 30+ years I have had all those and some more. It’s the #3 inquirer that I find the hardest to deal with. I have a particular client that without fail, calls me in late Sept. for a Xmas trip to far off lands that happen to be popular…Dubai, Thailand, Australia. She and her family want to be gone for about 7-10 days and “do it all” while there. They don’t want to travel on Xmas or New Year’s day.. I give her basic information (i.e. flights and suggest and itinerary) and then she never calls back or returns my calls. I think I will charge her just for calling me!

  6. 1Luisa Bonora says:

    Hi there… we are MIX-PLAN (UK) ltd a Wholesaler Incoming Tour Operator in the UK and we receive lots of these time wasting requests, not just from the public, but even worse….from Travel Agents and Tour Operators around the world who really only want us to provide a full Itinerary to be used for direct booking…
    We have developped an “instinct” for these but still respond (you never know !!) with only basic essential info. re price-range – Hotel type etc..and see what response we receive..If the Tour Operator or Travel Agent asks us for full itineraries with detailed costings and Specific Hotel availabilities we advise them there is a Fee for the service, the Fee is refundable only on confirmation of the booking.
    This usually sorts out the genuine possible clients from the Time Wasters.
    Best of luck…
    Luisa – Director

  7. 1Carol Feiner says:

    I think I am dealing with this guy right now!
    “The brochure said from $299 for a week on Royal Caribbean, so why can’t I get on the Oasis of the Seas over Christmas for that price?” But mine can’t understand why there are no special “deals” over Christmas for Hawaii, Sandals, etc.

  8. 1Joanne Hunt says:

    Yes, the stories are the same…only the names change! When you do business in a small town one cannot afford to offend anyone (no not even the fools). Right or wrong if word spreads that you were rude…you are done!

    One of the few statements most doubters understand: “And what do you do for a living?
    Ah, an electrician. Do you think that I could learn your job in a few hours by reading some online material written by unknown sources?”

    NO??

    Well, it’s the same with my thirty years of constant study, travel and industry connections.

  9. 1John says:

    Sorry “firm” but I’m well past “the customer is always right”…bottom line is they simply aren’t. Those that can’t and won’t deal with reality simply need to find someone else to call. As for the shopper that used to call me every year to plan a trip….I just told my favorite “call to plan” customer the planning fee was $75 and I’d be happy to deduct the fee from the final cost of the trip. She disappeared as soon as I asked for her credit card.

    I now realize she wasn’t a customer at all….just a lousy prospect…a customer is someone who has actually given you money!

  10. 1Anonymous says:

    Yes, the customer is ALWAYS right, because as one of you said above,
    “Right or wrong if word spreads that you were rude…you are done!”

    I always shop around, not just for the best deal, but more importantly, the best agent to deal with. If u come thru with good deals in a calm, pleasant, & considerate manner, I’ll probably continue doing business with u. If not, I recommend u go shovel ditches & stay out of my face.
    Yes, the customer is always right because if we’re not we walk away & leave u pennyless. Bon Voyage.

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