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.
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