We all are used to clients playing us against the Internet….their cousin who is a travel agent…or even the supplier directly. It comes with the territory it seems. Is it dishonest? I don’t necessarily think so. It is likely just a consumer making sure they are getting the most bang for their buck. I bought a television a while ago, and I sniffed out Best Buy, HH Gregg, and Amazon to see if there was much difference. But every now and then, I get a client that not only shops, me; but comes out with an outright lie.
My agency specializes in single parent travel and we do several medium-sized groups each year for single parents and their kids. We have gone out of our way to create relationships with preferred vendors and properties and will always negotiate special inclusions for our groups in addition to special single parent pricing, etc. With one property, we have had a 17-year relationship and I know for a fact that our pricing is 30% lower than anyone else is able to offer. Last week I received an email from a woman in New York asking about the trip. I asked about her children and she told me that they were 16, 17, and 19. We tend to have younger children and in this case, her children were all considered adults. I explained the pricing and provided a price to her which I assumed would be too high (to be honest, the place is a horrible deal when you price it like that). She said she’d consider it and we left it at that. I did not hold out much hope for a conversion. However, I did my follow up just in case. When I re-connected with her, she told me that she went ahead and booked the resort on her own at a price that was much lower than mine. I was dubious and she emailed me the confirmation and sure enough–she got a better deal. Then she said she wanted a listing of my special events to join us.
I explained that woudl not be possible and she hit the roof. I was subject to a barrage of “how dare you”s, and “you haven’t heard the last of me”s. I stuck to my guns and she (predictably) hung up in a huff.
I called the property and was livid. How could they undercut me? The sales manager brought up the reservation and it became evident. The client had lied. She was booked in a quad with her three children–only now they were 4 (which is a freebie), 7, and 11. And the price they were quoted was 30% higher than I would have quoted them. But now the property was mad at the lost revenue.
As we were speaking, the client called the property to demand that they include her in my events. And to the property’s credit, they had my back. They simply said that it needed to be booked through us to get the inclusions. She apparently huffed and puffed and said that she was not going to pay for someone ripping them off. At this point the property asked if they could review their reservation as they were sure there was some mistake. She reviewed it and confirmed that her children were 6, 9, and 13. A third set of ages. The property pointed this out and somewhat threw themselves on the sword suggesting their reservations agent made an error. They also explained that the listed 4 year old who was now 6 woudl have to be charged. And went a step further to say that to insure their pricing accuracy, she should bring some sort of proof of age for the children–passport or even a school report card. Not willing to give up the ruse, she agreed.
I thanked the property for having my back and standing behind me. I apologized for my client causing all this trouble. I hung up and felt great for having such a supportive partner.
I was concerned that the client might make a scene at the property trying to access my events; but it was for naught. My sales manager called me the following week to let me know that the client had called in the middle of the night to simply cancel the reservation.
We have all had clients bend the truth a little bit. A little older to get the AARP rate. A little younger to be considered a lapper on an airline. But, this was one of the biggest whoppers I have experienced and am thrilled with the resolution. What about you? Have you ever had a client lie to you? How did you handle it? Please leave a comment!