I was looking at the commission report for a recent booking when it finally hit home. For the time I spent on this client’s booking, I would be making the equivalent of $6.50 an hour. I made the immediate decision that I would begin charging a consulting fee before an initial discussion about travel plans. I have not collected a deposit towards a booking since mid March, and frankly I have nothing to lose.
I admit that I am scared to turn away business in this economy, but I go back to that thought of having nothing to lose and the knowledge that I am worth more than $6.50/hr. I have been working on a list of services I offer my clients for that fee. I have come up with a fee I feel the market will bear; but it is a fine line between having a “token” fee that the clients do not necessarily value, and one that will chase away potential clients. I need to have the fee high enough to commit the client to working with me, yet low enough that the fee prevents them from even talking to me.
As of this writing, I have not yet quoted it to someone seeking cruise information and I am nervous as hell about asking for it. I am sure I will fumble how I say it and I might even back down from it at first, but I know once I do it I will get better at it.
In addition, the last few weeks have been filled with more negative news affecting the travel business. For those keeping score; it was first the recession, and then gang activity on the border cities in Mexico, and finally it was the change of cruise itineraries due to the “H1N1” outbreak. Though I have no clients affected by any of these, I am being proactive by sending out regular updates to my entire database with links to the changes being implemented by the major cruise lines. My hope is twofold; my clients will remember that I have their best interest in mind by keeping them informed, and that their traveling friends who either booked on their own or with someone else will remember me in case their booking agent, website, or cruise line did not. After the third email blast, I received this note back which just made my day:
I appreciate all your updates on this swine flu thing. although we don’t have
any immediate plans to travel, I commend you for keeping us aware of the situation. thank you
I am about to face two new challenges in the next few weeks. My daughter will be home from school for the summer, and I received word at press time of the plan to rebrand my franchise. My hope is to find a balance between staying top of mind and handling my other full time job as a stay at home parent. The next diary entry will include how I have dealt with both of these big changes in my life.
Chuck Flagg is an independent owner/operator of SeaMaster Cruises in Canton, GA. For information contact Chuck at email@example.com or by phone at 770-355-9569.
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