This week, we have focused on five small psychological shifts that can have a significant impact on your travel practice. This next one comes out of discussions in the TRO Community following the some of the No Limits Webinars. Again, those webinars are a most valuable opportunity for every travel agency owner – a “must watch” webinar. They are available to you in the Community here on this site, so do take the time to watch them, you will be glad you did.
Many of the questions that followed on the discussions of the webinars concerned the value-add nature of the services travel consultants offer their clients. A common concern was expressed this way: “Why would a client pay more for a cruise by paying me a fee, when the same cruise is easily available online or through an agency not charging a fee?” The concern is understandable and the psychological shift necessary is contained in the answer: A client does not pay for more a cruise by paying the travel agent a fee. The cruise price remains the same. The client is paying for additional services rendered by the travel agent.
The difference here is not merely one of semantics or of finely splitting hairs, but is indicative of an important distinction.
When a client purchases a travel insurance policy, the distinction is more clear. In that instance, it is obvious that the client is not paying additional for the cruise but is instead getting an additional value – the insurance. The services of a travel agent, however, are no less tangible. You bring your expertise on a broad range of considerations: Is a cruise right for the client? Is this the right itinerary? What other options need to be added or eliminated from consideration? Is this the right cruise line for this client? What travel insurance should be purchased? What is the appropriate cabin? Are on board credits or upgrades available? Any consortia opportunities? Providing the client pre- and post- options, shore excursions. Being the advocate for the client if problems arise. Relationships with the cruise line and the sales staff. Each of these items have value to the client just as surely as does an insurance policy.
The cost of the cruise is the same. The additional services have a value and that is what your fee is all about. Your client pays a fee to insure that their hard-earned travel dollars are well spent, that their travel is well organized and as hassle free as possible.
It is easy to fall into the trap of allowing the client to lead the conversation by asking “Why should I pay more for the cruise by paying you a fee?” Again, train your clients. As Nolan instructed in the No Limits webinar, demonstrate your worth to the client by explaining what you will do for them, by educating them.
The small psychological shift of understanding the true nature of your fees and communicating that to your clients could more than double your income. Just as a final exercise, look a the fees charged by these travel agents. My perusal indicates that the average is more than $250 per itinerary.
It is easy to dismiss these agents as the exceptions rather than the rule. In fact, that is exactly what they are. But if you value your services, then a fee is a natural follow-on.