“If you’re good at something never do it for free.” – The Joker in The Dark Knight
Many of us who write for Travel Research Online have become or are firm believers in charging professional fees for our consultation services. We have grown weary of being used as quoting service. Nothing emphasizes this philosophy more clearly than a blog entry by Chris Brogan called The Audacity of Free. Reading this entry brought be to a different entry The point when you can’t do free anymore. Funny how reading from others outside of our industry opens up an entire thought process, but that is a topic for another article.
My thought process is a bit different than these two authors in that I feel there are some times when we do need to give away what we know for free. Certainly not everything, but I am going to be so bold as to say we should potentially give away up to 90% of what we know for free. We should also cover up that special Google-proof knowledge we possess (that 10%) with a bikini. You may be thinking that bikinis are just what you wear when traveling, but they can apply to information as well.
We need to do a better job in communicating the value we offer our clients when we quote our fee. We all got into this business because we LOVE to travel and early all of us love to talk. We are story tellers, and in 2010, we should be weaving stories of our travels in as many avenues we can to our clients directly in person or through email; through group presentations; writing in our blogs, Facebook updates or tweets. We know where to find that great restaurant not in the tourist guide. We know how to read deck plans and know our client with the young child wants to be nowhere near the cruise ship night club that gets going around 2AM!
We also have the ability to be the one person our client speaks to or gets an email from at every point of contact, before, during and after their vacation. We can either be available or have coverage available during a client’s travel who intimately knows his or her travel plans. We know when to go and more importantly can recommend when NOT to go. To be successful with the concept of the bikini you must offer information they won’t find on the web or if it is even possible a client is going to take a great deal of time to locate it
I believe if we offer the 90% of knowledge we know about a particular destination, cruise line, or resort there are people who will pay for the 10% covered by the bikini, and they will pay handsomely for it. Of course, you may only wish to do 75/25. Whatever the number is, your clients don’t know what they don’t know. You have to provide them value for their money, but you also have to make money as well. However, just remember that the most successful people in networking organizations are those who give the most referrals.
Our goal for 2010, or MMX as I am going refer to this year, should be educating the traveling public that the knowledge hidden by our individual bikinis is worth paying a premium. We must let our clients and potential clients know that vacation advice from the agency of THEY SAID and I’VE HEARD is not going there to help them when their flight is cancelled, the resort walks them or their arrival port has been closed due to fog.
As I bring this article to an end, let me share a personal story. My wife and I were nearly to the point of filing for divorce this past Christmas while trying to put together my daughter’s new bicycle. Screams filled the house, threats were made, and hands received minor injuries due to a brake handle squeezed at an inopportune time. In an act of desperation, my wife called a local toy seller and learned for a small fee, they will complete the remaining 10% of construction left on the bicycle. Divorce was averted, boiling over kettles were brought to a more comfortable temperature and the bicycle was finished by an EXPERT.
My daughter’s bicycle was made whole by someone who puts together bikes every single day, several times a day. For the sanctity of our marriage, we would have paid 10 TIMES as much to receive the desired result. I promise you there are clients out there who are in the same boat, so to speak, when it comes to arranging their traveling plans. We just need to let them know we are available to help them…for a fee of course!
Chuck Flagg is an independent owner/operator of Cruise Holidays of Canton, GA. He can be reached at 770-355-9569 or at firstname.lastname@example.org