Travel Quest – Which is better? | Travel Research Online


Travel Quest – Which is better?

Which is better?

  • Option A: Client calls to say they’ve booked elsewhere.
  • Option B: Client books somewhere else and never calls.

I’m of the opinion that if they didn’t book with us, I’d rather they don’t go out of their way to call and let us know.

We had a call today from a client who has booked with us before and was looking to book four cabins on an upcoming cruise.   She had called the cruise line directly for pricing and was wondering if we could beat the price.  After some quick research, we let her know we couldn’t find anything lower but we found the same price.

Upon hearing that, the client told us that she was going to book direct with the cruise line but wanted us to handle her air arrangements.  We politely explained that we don’t make commission on air so there would be a service fee for that booking.  However, if we booked her cruise, we do make a commission, so there would be no fee.  That’s when she told us thanks for our time but she was going to book her cruise direct with the supplier and her air online.

Did I miss something?  Should we have discounted our services to get the sale?  I really don’t think so. We had mentioned the advantages of using an agent and the services we provide.  The client had used our agency before and went out of her way to call us again. Based on that, I have to believe she had a positive experience with us previously.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to hear feedback about our agency.  If she had a bad experience with one of our agents, I want to know.  But if we offer the same price and she was just calling just to see if we could offer something lower, that puzzles me.

I realize you can’t close every sale but this one is baffling since we matched the price, she made the extra step to call us. And I can’t forget that she had used our agency before.  Even more confusing is that we could have taken care of everything on the phone for her right then.  Instead she chose to create more work for herself by calling the cruise line to book her cruise and then having to go online and book her air separately.

Was there something we could have done, should have done to get this sale or is this one of those clients you’re better off not spending too much time worrying about?

Stephanie Lee works in Operations at Travel Quest, a host agency out of MN with over 200+ home-based travel agents.  She graduated from the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University with a degree in Environmental Studies/Liberal Studies.  She was awarded ASTA Young Professional of the Year in 2008 and was named one of Travel Agent’s “30 under 30” in 2009.  She can be reached at, via Google+, or 800.392.6484.  For more information on Travel Quest visit or

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

  11 thoughts on “Travel Quest – Which is better?

  1. pat klug says:

    My personal opinion is that she wanted to take total control of the trip and since the price was the same, she felt she had nothing to lose. This could possibly prove to be a shortsighted decision, but if all goes well, she may try it again. Now, we all know that can be dangerous, but she won’t, until something happens that she can’t fix, and then hopefully she calls you again so you can tell her you can’t help her with something you didn’t book.

  2. It is very puzzling why she wouldn’t want the services of a professional at no additional cost. It may be that she wants to play travel agent herself. You may have told her this but I would stress the importance of having you oversee the entire trip from start to finish, including dealing with the airline should there be any schedule changes that could affect her timing with the cruise. When she has a question she’ll have one person to call instead of an agent at a call center that has probably not even experienced a cruise.

  3. Steph Lee says:

    THanks Lori and Pat for your insights! I agree it’s puzzling to the utmost and hope that at some point in time she comes to realize the value an agent provides. You never want to wish anyone a bad trip, but often times that is when they really see what a travel agent does and what they can assist you with.

  4. Steph Lee says:

    …. I should also mention that if she does come back, we’ll welcome her with open arms! In our experience, clients that leave to book online and then have a bad experience become our most dedicated and grateful clients!

  5. Did the agent ask for the sale? It sounds like it ended with the agent saying we can match the price. If you don’t suggest the next action, the client took over and decided what her next action would be.

  6. Shame her somehow, politely. Say you are a professional here only to help her. I would have asked outright if she wanted to play travel agent herself, and if she realizes that somewhere, someone is getting a commission, just most likely not someone in the US, and certainly not someone you can talk to on the telephone should you have any trouble or any additilanle questions. Shame is back, and some people need it.

  7. Steph Lee says:

    Hi Marlain, the woman had booked with us before and when we found the matching price she had said she’d call us back. She did, and said she was booking direct. Our agent spoke with her on the value of having an agent make all the arrangements and take care of all the problems and we’d love her sale, but she still said she was going to go direct. Agree with Laurie she could probably use a little reality in her life about the repercussions of her actions.

  8. Adrienne Coates, CTC says:

    I would have politely asked her since she had already taken the time & effort to call the cruise line directly, why was she calling me? What was she hoping to get (other than a cheaper price) from a travel consultant that she wasn’t getting from making direct bookings?
    This would have opened up the opportunity to counsel her on some of the other benefits of making the reservations with a registered travel consultant.

  9. Leah Smith, TPI says:

    This would be the perfect opportunity to explain to your customer the pros of booking with an agent. Yes, you cannot “beat” the direct cruiseline pricing – but by booking through your agency, they are covered by…….. (any coverages or associations you are part of) – you have the knowledge of an experienced agent – which with your agency’s buying power may end up with an upgrade in your cabins, or amenities etc etc. Explain by booking your cruise and air – they have someone who will notify them of sked changes etc., You are their advocate. Does your agency have a 24 hour service you subscribe to – another plus. You need to explain the benefits of booking with an agent. No difference in price…. but look at all the extras we can add on to your booking………

  10. david biltek says:

    “…We politely explained that we don’t make commission on air so there would be a service fee for that booking. However, if we booked her cruise, we do make a commission, so there would be no fee.”
    Fees and lack of commission or commission available have nothing to do with fees. Fees are what customers pay us for the work and more importantly the ADVICE we provide them and the commissions we receive from suppliers are the “rewards” or fees the suppliers pay us for the work we do for them. This is the same situation in most auction house especially in the art and antiques areas, where buyers and sellers both pay a premium or fee to the auction house.
    We need to separate the commissions and fees, we charge fees for the advice we proffer, for the assurance we give, for the advocacy that we advance, for the accountability that is on our shoulders…and the assistance is making payments, watching flight schedules, weighing options, registering online with the cruise line…that what fees are for, and we simply cannot provide this service unless we charge fees…and we should charge fees even when receiving commissions…

  11. Carol says:

    I must say unfortunately that our phones havent rang off the hook due to the Ash issue affecting clients who are planning their flights with Airlines direct. My question is what service do clients recieve in these crisis issues that always occur in this business. I recall waiting hours prior to the computer age for a price or to add a loyality number. Do people have the time to deal with all these extra things that we usually dont get paid for. I dont see why all the tour and cruise lines would want to fill their offices with more and more staff to deal with direct bookings that they had already with agents doing the work for small commissions.
    They have built this system and promote it everywhere so Fortunately most Ash issues are their problem as they wanted the business directly. Good Luck as clients can be very mean when they hear the typical answer of Were Sorry but no refunds as its out of our control I feel like maybe this is a blessing

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