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Tropical Travelers – To discount or not to discount

Discounts versus customer service. It is a recurring theme in my office most days. So much, that competing with online pricing has become more time consuming than actually planning great trips for my clients. Spending vast amounts of time with many of my clients to find the perfect vacation for them, only to have them bring me a price that is sometimes $800 less than my quote, is a little disconcerting to say the least.

I have always prided myself on providing excellent customer service and going the extra mile for my clients. I do my best to offer first hand information that is useful to them–information they won’t find online. And I feel that many clients really appreciate this, which is why they keep coming back to me year after year. But, I am seeing such a huge amount of discounting online, that it is nearly impossible to compete (or sometimes even be in the ballpark) on price any longer.

It comes down to a moral decision. Do I offer the discount upfront to get the booking? Or do I stick to my guns and give them the actual pricing? It has become a situation I wrestle with everyday. I have many clients who aren’t looking for discounts. They want a really great trip, but new clients seem to expect the $800 discount. How to compete?

Sure, I can offer them every bit of information I have about the resorts and locations based on my travels, but is that really enough anymore? In this cost-conscious environment, everyone is looking for cheap. So my solution is to offer them the information they need to make a decision on a great vacation along with non-discounted pricing. Of course I make sure the price is as reasonable as possible. If they would like to work with me for my professionalism and great customer service, than I am more than happy to go the extra mile to make sure their trip is fabulous. If they are only looking for a cheap trip, the online sites can have them.

Jennifer Byrne is the owner of The Tropical Travelers (www.thetropicaltravelers.com) in Malvern, PA. For more information, you can contact Jennifer at jennifer@thetropicaltravelers.com.

Comments to this article are welcomed and encouraged, please utilize the comment form below so we can all learn and interact with each other!

  5 thoughts on “Tropical Travelers – To discount or not to discount

  1. marie says:

    Could you discuss how you handle “research fees” with new clients when you think they
    will gather the info and go on line to book it?

    It is hard to decide who is going to really
    book with us and who is going to pick our
    brains and book elsewhere.

  2. Coconuts says:

    Jennifer:
    Love your website!
    I try to find out where the prospective client has shopped before I give a quote (eg Cheap Caribbean). Then I know what I’m up against. Often big items like taxes, or the view client wants, hasn’t been included.
    You commented that discounting is a moral decision. It’s a business decision. There is nothing immoral about making money!

  3. This is a tough one. I don’t charge research fees unless its a wedding. I haven’t found a way to do this and retain the client. When they are mostly all cost conscious, they aren’t willing to pay a deposit to get information. If I think they are shopping, I certainly won’t spend a great deal of time or offer too much information. I’ve had prospective new clients ask for my recommendations on restaurants and tours and such before they book. I won’t offer that information until they are confirmed. Don’t give away the farm, right?

  4. Geoff Millar says:

    What we do, where we can, is not discount but price match. All the large tour companies will price match and GOGO will even pricematch all the online companies as well as Cheap Caribbean. Unfortunatly price matching is becoming a standard tool but it is a lot better than discounting. I make sure we let the client know that we are price matching, not discounting, in my opinion, there is a big difference.

  5. Well said Geoff. This is exactly how I handle it. I feel as though I spend hours trying to get the pricing down to where the big three are, by checking every wholesaler out there. I used to just book vacations. Now I have to figure out the vacation part and be an accountant as well. I feel like I have to drag my calculator around with me to price land here and air there to make a match. It is what it is and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

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