Help wanted | TravelResearchOnline

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Help wanted

I need your help and opinions, so please take a moment or two to add your two cents in a comment!

When we are young, we go to the doctor regularly for a checkup. As we get older, and our health begins to stabilize, the visits become less frequent. And when you are much older, sometimes a sudden event, such as a heart attack, delivers the long overdue wake up call to go see the doctor again. There is really no difference in your travel practice. Sometimes, we get so focused on the way it has always been done, that we miss how it is really being done now.

Last week in the TRO Community, a travel professional asked for suggestions on how to handle a client issue. Here are the pertinent facts:

  1. The client did not receive a reasonably important email (cause unknown)
  2. The client had an issue in the beginning of the trip which the email would have covered
  3. The client called the agent for help
  4. The voicemail was delayed three days (cause unknown) and the agent had not returned the call

The agent wanted to know how to handle it

Is this my wakeup call? I am admittedly very old school in many ways. My suggestion was to immediately call, explain that an email was sent, inquire about the rest of the trip and guide the conversation as positively as possible and get an idea of the client’s level of frustration. With several more days of travel, the agent would have time to come up with a way to compensate the client, if at all.

Most of the agents who responded had different take. Most felt the client was too high maintenance or too helpless and should have been able to solve the problem without the email and without calling the agent. Most suggested letting the client complete the trip and just follow up normally after the client returned.

I agree that the client was high maintenance and should have been able to figure out a solution to the issue without involving the agent. But the client didn’t.

I am not asking for anyone to take sides, but after 15 years in the business, I wonder if I am suffering from tunnel vision myself.

So if this was you, how would you have handled it?

PS: If you like the idea of agents sharing ideas, make sure you are a member of the TRO Community.

  6 thoughts on “Help wanted

  1. I agree with YOU! The agent cannot be a mind reader if the e-mail didn’t get there, however, once the agent found out about the situation, he/she should have responded immediately. What sets us apart from the .com agencies is the element of customer service we can bring to the client.
    If the client is too high maintenance, then let the client go AFTER the trip is complete. If you want to have you and your agency face the reprocussions of an angry traveler claiming poor customer service…etc, when the they return, then do as the others suggest.

    That’s just my humble opinion.

  2. Sue Denno says:

    I agree that the agent should have done anything possible to connect with the client. Even if the situation was not changeable, the client would feel supported and cared about.

  3. Betty Krystyniak says:

    In our use of emails we presume that our clients are satisfied. A lesson learned perhaps we should be putting a safe gap in our emails. We can turn on the read response so we know that our client has opened the email. OR should we call our client before travel to “wish them a safe and pleasant holiday”? Too often we rely upon our telecommunications to replace the human element…

  4. Delilah Amaro says:

    The customer is always right!!! We as travel agents should do the impossible to take care of the unthinkable. The clients come to us for a reason, they can go online and book it!! But they are telling us they trust us enough and give us thier business, call me old school but with no customers there will be no jobs.. Be pro active my friends

  5. Donna Johnson says:

    I agree with you. My immediate response would have been to call the client and try to find a resolution. Generally when I send important e-mails I follow up with a telephone call. Pesonalized customer service offered by the travel agent community is what sets us apart from the online travel services

  6. Tina Williams says:

    We always do a last minute call (usually 4-7 days) prior to departure. Just to check that the client has all the documents needed, has no questions and is comfortable with the all aspects of the trip.
    I can understand an e-mail lost but a voice mail for 3 days? If I was the client I would have a hard time understanding that problem. My clients have access to me 24/7 and I don’t consider them high maintenance.

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