Saizan’s Travel, LLC – To fee or not to fee | TravelResearchOnline

Saizan’s Travel, LLC – To fee or not to fee

I’ve spent the past month working on my websites.  This has really paid off with better organic search engine rankings and more leads.  Unfortunately, out of all the leads I get, very few are realistic.  There are so many people looking for that “great deal.”  The problem, is that they are generally unable to identify a great deal when it is under their nose.  There is no magic price point that screams “great deal”.  All they know is that the media is telling them that travel is cheap.  So if I quote a couple, $3000 for a week in October at a 5 star all inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya, including airfare from New York, transfers, taxes and gratuities I am told “that’s too much money, travel is cheaper than that.”

“Travel is cheap” seems to be the mantra the media has fed the public.  My son told me he was watching a news show that said “you should negotiate with your travel agent for better rates, your travel agent can lower prices for you, and all you have to do is ask.”  Where do they get their information from?  Unfortunately the public believes the media.  Well, I’m not William Shatner and this isn’t Priceline.

The best way to weed out these individuals is by charging a consultation fee up front.  I’ve done this several times with success.  I have dropped my plan to go fee and replaced it with a consultation fee which is not applied to the booking when the client books with me.

The vast majority of people refuse the consultation fee and I wonder if I am shooting myself in the foot.  So, every now and then I don’t charge the fee–some book with me and some don’t.  I become frustrated with myself because I can’t seem to make up my mind and just stick with one business model.  On one hand I believe in the value of what I do and that I deserve to be compensated for my knowledge, skills, training and time.  On the other hand I don’t want to lose a sale.  My confidence goes up and down like a roller coaster.  I can feel my confidence build slowly while I explain my consultation fee, and when the client says “no”, my confidence races to the bottom.

Recently I spoke with a very successful agent who charges no fees, will price match and even discount if needed.  He makes more sales in a month than I do in a year.  He told me that the public views travel as a price driven commodity.  How can you charge fees with that kind of perception?

I see both sides to the fee vs. no fee dilemma.  All I have to do is pick one side and stick with it.

Until next month, happy selling!

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.

Comments to this article are welcomed and encouraged, please utilize the comment form below so we can all learn and interact with each other!

  4 thoughts on “Saizan’s Travel, LLC – To fee or not to fee

  1. Lori Derauf says:

    I agree with Pat that and have gone through a similar thought process. I do charge a $30 research fee for simple packages. I waive the fee if they book the trip through me. I bring this up at the end of the initial conversation. Most people just don’t know how we work and think that all the information magically pops up on our screen. I give them an idea of how much time I will spend on research for them and most people tell me the fee is too low. The fee is higher for more complicated trips. Sometimes clients want to book on their own but want the advice of an agent so it can be a “pick your brain” fee.

    I’m not a human search engine and my research takes into account what the client wants, their past experiences and what I feel would be the right resort and destination for them. The internet doesn’t do this.

    Feel confident about the fees your charge. Your clients will be glad they called an agent that demands a professional fee and is dedicated to their needs rather than churning out quotes.

  2. I don’t believe in charging a fee. In fact, I promote the fact that I do FREE consultations. I seldom waste my time because I have become a very good profiler. I build rapport and spend about an hour with the customer initially, whether in person or via tele-com. I also have access to virtual tools that help during a screening process.

    What I would charge a fee for is any kind of corporate travel. Or, if a client seems to want to “do it themselves”, even after I’ve explained the reasons to use a travel agent, then I would offer to be their consultant for a fee. I would do not research, only give advise.

    I think loyalty from customers outweighs the need for fees.

  3. Laura Frazier says:

    Change is hard Pat, but stick with it and I believe you’ll see the results you’re looking for.

  4. Tom Polacco says:

    I have been in the business for many years and still find it a bit difficult to charge a service fee and I think that we travel agents have created this problem.We were so used to giving out free information for nothing or spending a lot of time and energy trying to find the cheapest fare/tour when most other companies start at the top and work down if the clients find it too expensive.Nowadays I tell a client upfront that there is a service fee for just a straight air ticket,then they can decide if they want to pay the fee or not and that would save you alot of time checking fares and then they tell you that they don’t want to pay the fee.I don’t normally charge a fee if it is a big item such as a cruise/tour etc where we earn commission. It is hard in a small town as everybody is trying to make a sale and agents
    are afraid to lose the business if they add on fees.It would be nice if every agency in every town got together ad set out some fees that everybody would charge.
    I guess I can dream!!!

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