I have been reading a multitude of articles within the travel community, as well as outside of the travel community regarding fees. Of course, we all cringe at the fees being instituted by the airlines for everything under the sun; yet there are advocates within the travel community that feel strongly that service fees are the way to positively affect the bottom line.
In recent months, I have had the opportunity to listen to several webinars regarding instituting fees; including one by Nolan Burris, and others (both in and outside of the industry) who strongly tout the benefits of charging fees. I can see both sides of the argument, and I have heard both sides of the argument. The most common reasons I’ve heard against instituting fees include:
- New in the business, and does not feel they have the expertise/knowledge to justify a fee
- Feel they will have a loss of business from existing clients and/or new clients who do not want to pay a fee
- Business model is such, that we know it inside and out, so it does not take an inordinate amount of time for us to close a sale and have the booking, so there is no real need for us to institute fees
- Does not feel it’s right to charge for a packaged trip, but may charge for a FIT (these people aren’t against fees, per se, but do not feel they are necessary for all travel arrangements)
Those who are pro charging fees argue the following:
- Your time is valuable, and time is money; therefore you should charge a fee
- The fees are a way to positively affect your bottom line
- Any service based business charges fees whether it’s a life coach, consultant, etc., so travel professionals should also charge fees since they are providing a service to their clients
I am in the process of reading some complimentary chapters from Michael Port’s, “Book Yourself Solid”, and I have to say that he is right on the money (no pun intended). While I have not read the entire book yet (it’s on order), the chapters I have read are clearly in line for those who believe in charging service fees. His book is not primarily about fees; however, he does speak of several concepts that are definitely beneficial for those who do charge fees. In one of the chapters, he speaks to a “Velvet Rope” policy. The synopsis of the policy is essentially doing business with those who have similar beliefs, likes, etc., as you do. Obviously you are in business, and may have to do business with all types of people who you may not share similar beliefs, but if you make a concerted effort to seek out those who are in lock step with your business philosophy, and what you are trying to sell, then your time, marketing efforts, etc., will eventually bring the type of clientele you want to do business with, and who want to do business with you. In short, your work will become easier, because those who are allowed behind the “Velvet Rope” want to be there.
In my opinion, if you do a good job for someone and they appreciate your time and business acumen, then it really should not be an issue for them to pay for your services. The concept really is not an all or nothing proposition; and since a lot of us operate our own businesses, we have the latitude to do whatever we deem fit and appropriate for our own business models. Since I am still new in this business, I don’t have the benefit, or in some respects, the detriment of having the past to look back on and reminisce. I am in this business to make money, and while I know the times have changed significantly from twenty, ten and even five years ago, I realize that I will need to be flexible, creative and smart in order to be in this for the long haul and make money. For those who do charge fees, how long have you been charging them, and what have you seen as a positive or negative for doing so?
Chanté Owens is co-owner of Chicks That Trip, and is an independent affiliate of Incentive Connection Travel. Chicks That Trip specializes in group travel, culinary & wine experiences, and major sporting event packages to the UK, France, Italy, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and select Southern Caribbean Islands. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her website at www.chicksthattrip.com and her blog penned under the name, That Chick Té at http://chicksthattrip-lobbybarconfessions.blogspot.com/