If you’re a firefighter or an ambulance driver, your response time is vitally important. And it had better be measured in minutes, and not hours.
But what about travel consultants? For us, I think it probably depends on the situation. If you’re a corporate agent dealing with clients who need to change their plans from moment to moment, you probably need to be very accessible and responsive. A leisure agent, on the other hand, generally has a little more time to respond and react. But how long is too long?
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I know that I return all phone calls within a couple of hours (and never later than the end of that business day) and I generally respond to emails even faster than that (even if it’s just to shoot off a quick response letting the client know that I got their message and will get back to them tomorrow). But not everyone runs their business the same way. We all probably have our own standards and practices about how quickly we get back to people, and clients come to expect that level of responsiveness.
So what do we do when a supplier does not share our same beliefs about the timeliness of a request? I can understand the need to take a day or two to put together a quote for a complicated itinerary, but I find it very frustrating when a simple question or a minor revision takes days to get resolved. Or, for that matter, when even a very complicated quote takes more than a week or so. The most egregious example? I spoke with one supplier SIX weeks ago about a custom group tour to Italy. It took two weeks just to connect with the specific person who was supposed to be working on it so that I could answer the questions that were delaying his proposal…..and I still don’t have the quote.
Not that I’m waiting around for it, and that’s my point. I moved on to another supplier, who turned around the quote in a week, and my group is happy. I would imagine that if I had stalled the clients while I chased the original quote, they would have moved on to another (more responsive) travel consultant and I would have lost out on the business.
Since I promise my clients a stress-free vacation planning experience, I choose to work with suppliers who share my belief that waiting around for something (a return phone call, an answer, a proposal) is “stress-full”! What do you think? How important is response time, and how does that influence how and with whom you do business?
Ann Petronio is a travel consultant and the owner of Annie’s Escapes, Inc. in Cranston, Rhode Island. She creates custom-tailored vacations for busy couples, families and groups. www.AnniesEscapes.com