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Agent discounts–don’t beg. Ever!

I just read a post on an agent-only site where an agent was complaining about how tiring it was to have to beg to get an “agent” rate for the whole family and it frustrated me.  There were some who replied with examples that with certain hotels, this is never a problem and someone else chimed in with “why should the whole family get an agent rate?”  The more I thought about this, the more it annoyed me and how I wholeheartedly agreed with the comment about why should the family get a discount?

I go to seminars, attend trade shows and different presentations throughout the year and I know there are those that seem to simply go for the freebie giveaways, free food and drinks. It seems that many are there to collect things, win trips and eat. I am not saying this is everyone and not suggesting that all who attend these events do it for this reason and this reason only, and certainly if a trip is given away or tickets or a hotel stay, that is a nice perk, but when I have talked to vendors on the side, I have asked them if they feel that is worth their time spending the money to come to these trade shows and events and many confide that they don’t; and for the reasons stated above.

For those who may feel offended by this rant, this is not a blanket statement, just my frustration at the comment that someone felt compelled to beg to get a discount for the family when it is an “agent” discount and a professional courtesy. I know we work hard for those small margins that seem to get smaller all the time, no matter how we try to change the paradigm. It is nice to be given these perks, but to those who abuse the privilege, think about it, you are presenting an image that tarnishes those who try very hard to maintain professionalism and not bring a negative bearing to the industry, both from a vendor view and that of the public. Perhaps in the near future, these “discounts” won’t be available, just like airline commissions. This is a business and you have to earn the privilege.

From a cost standpoint for these vendors, the vendor I spoke with questioned why they still attended. I am wondering if one of the main reasons there are less and less of these “shows”, is because the return on investment is not worth it. Handing out brochures and not getting any business from it would be very frustrating to the vendors and I can’t blame them.

We are not in the business to win trips or get discounts. We are in this industry to provide excellent experiences for our clients and if we are privileged enough to be given an opportunity to experience something complimentary or at a discounted rate, we should be appreciative, not complain if we can’t give this opportunity to the whole family. I don’t beg for agent rates. There are FAMS, if you are so inclined to get the experiences to be able to turn around and suggest the destination or resort, some even do allow your family to attend. I rarely, if ever go on FAM trips any more, but create my own experiences to share with my valued clients, which gives a more real experience.

When I travel, I do not overtly say I am in the industry, expecting that I am owed something. I am not owed anything; and more importantly to me, I get to see and feel what my client would experience. I know a number of colleagues who approach it this way which is the professional way to approach it. Others I know that are simply in it for the freebies and will announce as much and demand some sort of perk regardless if they have ever sold the product or ever intend to sell it. As with any industry, you have to earn the privilege by selling the destination, cruise or tour consistently, so the vendor knows that their generosity or professional courtesy will be returned by the sale of their product. If all you do is ask for discounts, then this reflects badly on the industry and there will be less opportunity down the line.

I do on occasion, ask a vendor or hotel if there is a discounted rate for myself, and if they say no, I leave it alone. In fact, on a number of occasions, I have simply attended an event, had a discussion with the vendor, explained how I sell that destination and they have offered something totally out of the blue. I am very appreciative of this and try very hard to return the favor by suggesting the hotel or the destination so the vendor does not feel they gave the discount without any return. Sometimes the return takes longer, sometimes it happens right away.

But I do not beg.

Jamison has traveled to over 50 countries, including most of Europe. Wandering Puffin LLC. Is located in Minneapolis, MN. Jamison can be reached by email at jamie@wanderingpuffin.com or by phone at  763-244-0669. www.wanderingpuffin.com.

  5 thoughts on “Agent discounts–don’t beg. Ever!

  1. GRT says:

    Suppliers are no better. I have seen agents friends and family win prizes and they don’t seem to care.
    I know they know they are not agents and still let them win or get discounts.

  2. bellarob says:

    My personal opinion of those begging for discounts are your hobbyist travel agents. Buy a pack of business cards sell a couple of packages a year (mostly to friends and family) and suddenly you are a Travel expert. As a 22 year veteran in the industry I’m often offended and ashamed for the few who don’t seem to understand like all industries this one too is something that takes skill and understanding to master. I’ve learned in these last few years that discounts and fam trips are non discussion items. How can you and the supplier benefit mutually from a business partnership should be the first question.

  3. Amen! I have run across many travel agents whose sense of “entitlement” is off the charts. It’s embarrassing to me as a travel professional. I rarely tell anyone about my work when I’m traveling, unless it is someone I want to get to know for business purposes, like the sales manager or wedding coordinator, etc. Someone who I can personally get a hold of in the future. Otherwise, I spend my time as a cunsumer and look at how my clients will be treated.

  4. I simply can not agree with you more!!! With have an IC who makes it her business to be here whenever a vendor is in th office and at the end of the presentation always, ALWAYS, :Can I talk to you before you leave?” It is always because she’s looking not for a “rate” but for a “freebie” if she can get – though she’ll happily take a nice rate. It is so embarrassing, I can’t even verbalize it much of the time. It’s just maddening!!!

  5. GRT – that certainly can be the case, but the smarter suppliers who hold events and give away trips limit them to Agents who actually have an IATA card. And they limit the invitations to the events in the first place.

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