Saizan’s Travel, LLC–A frustrating few weeks | TravelResearchOnline

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Saizan’s Travel, LLC–A frustrating few weeks

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.

  13 thoughts on “Saizan’s Travel, LLC–A frustrating few weeks

  1. Chuck Brook says:

    We are having the same experience as you are. Lots of tire kickers and few sales. It gets frustrating.

  2. Roseanne says:

    I applaud you, I have been in the industry for over 30 years and I have come across the same scenario with clients.
    I am looking forward to your next article.

  3. Mary Stephan says:

    Pat, I feel your pain. I am experiencing the same thing. Some days I just want to cower under my covers. But, I pick myself up, dust myself off and keep going.

    I do agree 100% we need to get respect back.

    Hang in there.

    Mary

  4. Spring break…walk-in new client wanting Carribbean…maybe Bahamas for a week with beach and sun for not more than $1000.00 per person. I explained that the Bahamas might be chilly. They had already “done Mexico” and I explained that their budget didn’t allow for anything in the Caribbean that included air, hotel and all-inclusive. Another Spring Breaker…only 19 wanted to pick my brain…I told her there would be a deposit to book. I’m not giving away my more than 40 years of knowledge and experience free. Glad I have some spending clients:)

  5. usha says:

    Great article and I second the idea that the public needs to be made more aware of the values a travel agent/vacation planner brings to the table. I think the suppliers should be very much part of that equation as well.

  6. Pat Saizan says:

    Thanks everyone!

    In thinking of ways to earn respect from clients I have found that I’ve got to demand it. I’ve changed my request for a quote verbiage to let people know that I want serious inquiries only (done in a nice way, but gets the point across). On the phone I have become more “forceful” on gathering information to determine if a potential client is just looking around, and setting down boundaries with clients.

    So far this week has felt more peaceful and I have not been as frustrated since I “claimed” my own respect so to speak.

    Our industry does need a media campaign aimed at educating the general public at what a true professional brings to the table. Question is how do we do this?

  7. Laura says:

    I’ve read a lot of comments lately on this and other boards that we need an advertising campaign to inform the public of the value of agents and regain our respect.
    If you require potential clients to “hire” you as they would any other independent contractor that is preforming a service for them, and require and upfront deposit for your services, they perception will quickly change, and the price shoppers will go away. No one in their right mind would agree to do a job, work for 6 to 8 hours to find out “if” they were going to get paid, but travel agents do it every day.
    If we want change and respect, it has to start with us. If you’re not insisting on an upfront fee, or doing the work without some kind of an agreement of how your going to get paid you are selling yourself short.

  8. Richard Earls says:

    Laura:

    I could not agree with you more and that, in fact, is the topic of my Publisher’s column next week. Agents need to develop the confidence and the marketing strength to charge an up-front fee before doing any work for a client.

    Richard

  9. Pat Saizan says:

    I agree completely. However, you must educate the client on why a fee is required.

    As time goes on I am finding that respecting myself and what I do gains the respect of clients. Some are offended by a request for a fee (bye, bye I say) and a few will pay a fee (these are the clients who I want and who respect me).

    In general the public does need to be educated on the value of a travel agent. Yes, we can do this on an individual basis, but it would be great if there were some sort of mass education in the form of a commerical or other media.

  10. K Bickel says:

    I agree with you all the way around with the need to be compensated for our time. The problem I keep running into is that not all agents/agencies are charging. So then you have the client that just goes onto the next agency. Additionally, I am running into the client – in this case my own family, that calls for pricing, then shops the internet and comes back with what they perceive as a considerably less rate (since they were given price per/person & I gave her cabin total). Talk about a slap in the face. So how do we get the vendors on board with increasing the respect for our expertise? It seems that more and more they are contacting the customers direct.

  11. Laura says:

    While some vendors will try to refer someone to an agent, most aren’t going to risk losing a sale. I think the best things that vendors can do to help increase our value is to stop working with the MLMs.

  12. Nia says:

    I also had a similar experience. Worked with a young man, a chef by profession, wanted to go to Napa for a week with his lady friend. I worked out a beautiful romantic itinerary for him. He was thrilled. He sprung the surprise on her. She was thrilled. While we were on the phone handling the booking they got into an argument. Trip was off. Then it was on. then it was off and then it was on but while I was talking to him she pulled up a trip of the same duration on …I dunno priceline or travelocity or such and he decided the pricing was better and unless I could beat that price he wanted to go with that. While he hemmed and hawed and apologized for wasting my time…I told him thati if that price is what you want, you should go for it. He leaves in about 2 weeks. Is it awful for me to hope everything that can go wrong…does?

  13. MacLean says:

    I just had a client drop in yesterday to book her Montreal airport hotels for her trip that she booked to Punta Cana online. The same trip that I have been pricing for her since December, so a total slap in the face. Funny, when I was pricing it for her, she had one option and it was departing from the airport here in our city. When she booked it online she is now flying out of an airport that is an 8 HOUR DRIVE AWAY.

    And no, Nia, it isn’t wrong to wish ill of their trip. I booked clients into the Monte Carlo Resort in Las Vegas last year, they cancelled it with me because they called the hotel directly and got a better deal. The next day the hotel caught on fire and it is now one of my favorite stories (I’m more than 2000 miles away from LAS, I swear it wasn’t me).

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