I’ve got to say that I’ve been quite frustrated with my business these past few weeks. My website hits are up as are my leads; unfortunately I’ve had few bookings. It seems like everyone I talk with wants an unrealistically low price.
“The economy is down, so travel should be cheap” seems to be the mantra from the crowd of would be travelers. Over and over I hear the surprised disappointment from these would be travelers that there are no $2500 all inclusive vacations for a family of four for a week in Cancun during Spring Break at a 4 star resort. “I can get it online for what I want” is another line that comes into play over and over again. Sure, you can get it online for that price with a horrible air schedule (at least two stop over’s and one overnight) and a run down resort with horrible service, but hey – who am I to know better?
This past week I have struggled with respect. Respect for what I do as a travel professional. This really came to a head for me when a past client called and wanted an Alaska cruise for their 25th wedding anniversary. They told me they knew nothing about Alaska and wanted to get the best experience possible. As a good travel professional I asked them to describe the experience they desired. I gave them three options and they settled on a 3 day land package followed by a 7 night Southbound Glacier cruise. Wonderful! I came up with a great package on Princess Cruise Line with the land portion preceding the cruise. The price was great, they were excited with the offer. They only wanted a day to “move money around” from their accounts to pay the deposit. I called the following day to get the deposit when I was told, in a very indignant tone of voice, “we are really disappointed with you Pat, we looked at the Princess site last night and saw that we can book it for the same exact price you gave us.” Needless to say, I was floored.
It was hard to keep my tone of voice from showing the extreme irritation I felt as I explained the service I have provided for them. I explained how they called me and I explored what they really wanted in their Alaska cruise vacation and gave them three options. I reminded them of how I am available for questions and concerns and how they can always get a hold of me for any problems. There seemed to be a need to explain how I make my money, so I described how I don’t get paid until a booking is made and commission is paid. Normally I would charge $100 research fee (and apply it to their vacation once booked) but did not do so because they were repeat clients. Their response? “We’re looking for the best price and we have a time share and found that we can ‘swap’ the time share for the same cruise tour you offered us.” This client has since been deleted from my data base.
The lack of respect and lack of gratitude for what I offered this client really got to me. I was used. This happens all the time when you are in any kind of sales, and all the experts will tell you to pick yourself up and move on. However, after having such a dismal few weeks of sales, only to top it off with this former client, I really began to think about the lack of respect for what travel professionals offer. As an industry we really need to educate the public, but how? My mind turns this over and over, coming to no conclusions. Somehow we as an industry need to do something to bring back the respect we all deserve.
Moving on, last week I integrated Live Person (live chat) into all of my websites. I am taking a year long course on Web Development and Marketing and one thing I have learned is that you need to make it easy for clients to contact you, and offer several ways they can contact you. On my next agent diary entry I will let you know if this makes a difference in my business. Thank you for reading this and I hope all of our businesses see an increase in sales.
Pat Saizan, ACC, CTC owns Saizan’s Travel based in Altamonte Springs, FL (a home based agency hosted by Travel Planners International). For more information, you can contact Pat at Pat@SaizansTravel.com.