Do you know what the most dangerous threat is to today’s travel professional? Don’t go looking at trade magazines or news reports for the answer because it is not there. Instead, head to the nearest bathroom and look immediately over the sink, and you will come face to face with the biggest threat the industry has ever faced!
Last week, I was following a thread on a travel forum and an agent was really upset that a major online agency had undercut her price on a package to a client somewhat significantly. The thread continued for a while about different methods to “match” the price. Call a supplier and see if they will match…see if your DSM will add more amenities…see if your host can have someone call the supplier…it went on an on. Ultimately, it became evident that this was not a lost transaction, but one that was under consideration. My first question is why do you want to compete with a major online agency? And my second one is why are you fighting yourself to match them on the assumption your client is looking for the lowest price?
Travel is a business like all other businesses. When you bought your last car, did you look at different brands? Did one brand not get your sale? We are going to win some and lose some and that is the way it is always will be. So why do we continually punish ourselves by coming up with the objections to the sale before the client does? Yes, be prepared, but for crying out loud, never assume you lost the game before you step up to the plate! (yes, baseball is right around the corner)
The agent who was stressing about this sale already had a relationship with the client and had helped the client out of a jam once before. Again, why consider rebating commissions or offering other perks if not needed? For this agent, to “get” the sale, it would have involved rebating 100% of the commission earned. If that is the only manner you can come up with to get a sale, you won’t be in business for long.
As an industry, travel professionals need to realize they are indeed professionals. There will always be someone that will go to your competitor for a two dollar off coupon. Let them! Take their business if you get it, but if not, move on. In this economy, focus on your existing clients—they know what you do. They are your best form of advertising.
Sure there will be disappointments. And yes, the client is going to buy the Ford when you are selling GM. But it’s just business. Base your business on the professionalism you bring to the table. Base your business on your expertise in handling situations that inevitably occur in travel. Base your business on making a profit—not giving it away.
I remember a parable about a farmer and his mule. There was a farmer who had an old mule. The mule fell into a deep dry well and began to bray loudly. Hearing his mule cry, the farmer came over and assessed the situation. The well was deep and the mule was heavy. He knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to lift the animal out.
Because the mule was old and the well was dry, the farmer decided to bury the animal in the well. In this way he could solve two problems: put the old mule out of his misery and have his well filled.
He called upon his neighbors to help him and they agreed to help. To work they went. Shovel full of dirt after shovel full of dirt began to fall on the mule’s back. The mule became hysterical. But each time they would throw a shovel full of dirt on his back he would shake it off and step up. Shovel full after shovel full, the mule would shake it off and step up. Eventually, exhausted and dirty (but quite alive), the mule stepped over the top of the well and walked through the crowd of neighbors.
A great attitude. A great way to approach your business. Shake it off and step up. Too often we hold on to what has happened to us.