Are you authentic?September 9th, 2013 . by John Frenaye
On the weekends, I tend to let any office calls received go to my voicemail. Last night, I was in the middle of heading out to the grocery and the phone rang and I ended up answering the call. It was a woman from New York who had heard of our group trips and needed more information—pretty standard phone call.
Based on past (bad) experiences, I do not put everything out front on the website and most people will call for more information. This gives me the opportunity to somewhat size up the client to make sure he or she is a good fit for the group. So, we had a great conversation and she was pretty excited about the trip and was ready to leave a deposit. And then she asked, “so, how do I check you out before giving my money to you?”
This is a question I had not been asked in a long time. I do have an old list of references, but I reasoned to myself that it was almost too old and I feared the clients might not be receptive to a call. I explained our history, how long we had been in business, the services we offer, how our trips are run, and more; but none really seemed to address my prospect’s question. Honestly, for under $100 I could create a website, toss up a PayPal link and pretend I was anything I wanted—buyer beware. In the end, I came up with a good solution that works in my situation—call the supplier directly and ask about me. I explained that they shouldn’t book with them (our prices are lower), but they certainly will be able to vouch for our reputation.
I am fortunate that I have a small niche and deal personally with a limited number of suppliers. I am not so sure this would work if they called Royal Caribbean or Apple Vacations. And that, to me poses a problem for many non-storefront agencies.
For less than $100 I could create a website, toss up a PayPal link and begin collecting deposits for trips that never materialize. From a consumer’s point of view, I can understand the hesitancy—in particular from my demographic of single parents who typically are surviving on a single income.
Have you ever had a client question your authenticity? How do you handle it?