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Is it really about price?

Lance Armstrong wrote a best-selling book a few years back before he finally admitted to cheating, called “It’s Not About the Bike!” By now virtually everyone knows the story of Lance Armstrong, but the title made me think about a situation we all encounter on a regular basis as salespeople.

How often do you get this call or email? “Can you give me your best price on XYZ Tour?” Okay, you do a little research and send them a price. You never hear from them again. You send a couple of follow up emails or phone calls with no response. You just got sucked in by the oldest of all prospects – the price shopper! You probably wasted a half hour or so, got your hopes up, only to have them dashed. It’s kind of like when we were in high school and the girl or guy you liked wouldn’t return your calls. You didn’t give them a reason to want to call you back (well, in high school it was probably a little more complicated.)

If all you do is give the caller what they ask for, you are doing the same thing every other travel agent they contacted has done. Now it is simply a matter of who is a dollar lower than the cheapest price they have received so far. Believe it or not, there are a number of agencies who will get in a bidding war to land the sale. Not me, and neither should you.

In my experience, those who work you over the most on price usually turn out to be the biggest pain in the butts. They will be the first to tell you what a privilege it is for you to do business with them. In fact, if it were not for them, you couldn’t put food on the table. You know the ones I am talking about!

If you simply answer these requests because you need the practice quoting business, you can stop reading now. If you are interested in converting them to customers on your terms, there is one simple way to differentiate yourself and change the focus from price to value.

Ask questions! Not stupid closed ended questions with one word answers like “Do you love me? Check – Yes or No”. But inquisitive, open-ended questions which always start with one word: “Why”.

WHY do you want to go to Austria? WHY did you choose XYZ tour? WHY is the lowest price important to you? WHY? People will always answer a “WHY” question. It almost always elicits an emotional response. What you will find is “It’s Not about the Price!” Most purchases are emotional, not price driven. If you can connect in that manner, you can virtually eliminate the competition.

Asking questions shows you are interested in them. It also gives you the opportunity to redirect the focus from price to what they really want – a fantastic vacation. In the end, no one wants to think, “if we had only paid the extra $20 night to look at the Eiffel Tower, instead of settling for the beautiful view of the garbage dumpsters – it would have been the perfect vacation.”

You know what? It is our responsibility as travel professionals to ensure this doesn’t happen. We also need to make sure they know it! Because it’s really not about getting the lowest price. It’s about paying a fair price for the vacation they really want.  As one of my old customers used to tell me, “Dan, I don’t mind you making a little money off me, but I don’t want you getting fat either.”

If you don’t ask WHY, you will never know, nor will you have a shot at getting the sale — unless of course, you are the lowest bidder or they called someone else reading this post who took the time to ask the question “WHY.”


Dan Chappelle is President of WealthyTravelAgent.com where he develops sales leaders for the travel & tourism industry. He assists sales professionals achieve their full potential by expanding their vision, shifting their mindset, and transforming their businesses to produce tangible results. An internationally known travel industry expert, sales executive, and speaker, Dan has earned an enthusiastic following among travel agents and industry leaders worldwide. He has been featured in numerous trade and consumer publications and is an instructor for the Travel Institutes’ Professional Educators Program, providing insight for travel professionals. You can contact Dan by email at Dan@WealthyTravelAgent.com.

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