I had the great good fortune to spend a few days at THETRADESHOW in Orlando with Laura Frazier of Bliss Honeymoons. We were speaking about the practice of charging a research fee. In a study we are doing at TRO on the characteristics of top travel agents, the practice of charging research fee ranks high as a common characteristic.
Laura indicates that she always charges a fee of $100 with a new client. She calls it a “deposit” and applies it against their travel. Then she said something that really caught my attention: “I don’t audition to be anyone’s travel agent.” I like that.
When a travel planner charges an upfront fee, they are placing themselves in the ranks of all professionals who ask for a retainer before doing work or research. After all, travel planners are not selling travel, they are selling their services. A client who pays a research fee will certainly not take your research and book elsewhere. You have laid out the parameters of the relationship from the outset, and started down the road to properly training your client.
Take control of your client relationships. Don’t audition. Charge a research fee.