Just last week I had a great reminder about the importance of patience and how limits can be tested. To set up the story, it’s best if I share that my travel agency isn’t my full-time job, so I generally work evenings and Saturdays on client proposals, bookings, education, etc. I received a call on a Tuesday evening and was unable to answer so I sent it to voicemail. Then, I received another call. Then one more. I stopped what I was doing and listened to the voicemail aware that none of my clients were traveling at that time so it shouldn’t be a last minute emergency, but was curious as to what the urgency was for three calls in a row. It was a new client and her first voicemail was over 4 minutes long. I knew from the start this wasn’t going to be easy.
“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not smashing it.” – Arnold H. Glasow
From the almost hour-long first phone conversation we had, I could tell that travel was not something that was done often, and that some more education and structure would be needed. We went over every step of the process, every detail about flights, ground transportation, tour options, hotel accommodations, weather at the destination, etc. Patience, I thought.
I don’t mind first time travelers. I actually enjoy the process of educating them and helping them plan a trip they’ve been saving years to take. There’s more appreciation and excitement with these clients, but they do require more time and patience.
Then the client, although able to use her email at work, was unaware of how to open email attachments, complete my electronic forms and wanted to pay by check. Have patience, I kept saying to myself.
While I do consider myself tech savvy and rely heavily on technology and electronic forms and payments, I still respect the request to forgo the tech piece and have a good old fashioned meet in person to complete the paperwork session. The problem was that this new client wanted it all to happen today, not tomorrow. Asking why I couldn’t stop by their home on Friday or Saturday to complete the paperwork even after my explanation that this was my part-time job. Keep your patience, I said again to myself.
Fast forward to the end of last week when I made the decision that if I didn’t take an hour off work early to meet her, my phone would be ringing non-stop until I had. Our meeting which was supposed to be for the completion of two documents, ended up taking an hour because we went over everything in depth once more. Have patience and now maybe a happy hour, I kept telling myself.
I know we’ve all been there. We’ve had those clients who would rapid fire emails, leave voicemails longer than the national anthem or have asked for 180 degrees of changes only to turn around and go with the original quote. In our field, patience is very much a virtue and a necessity. New clients, repeat clients, those random callers whom you never hear from again – all will require our patience at some point. Thankfully I can say that I’ve had the fortune to get my mother’s patience and understanding which has gone a long way as a travel agent. A glass of wine doesn’t hurt the cause either.
Here’s to hoping you can save up your patience for the next client that really needs it.
Nathan Graeff is the owner of Capital Travel and Events based in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC. His agency is a full service travel agency serving leisure and business clients but specializes in adventure travel, non-profit agency travel and accessible travel. Nathan is a home-based agent and a member of Millennials in Travel and OSSN.