These two questions are most often on the mind of many travel agents “Do you know if there is a supplier for this destination, shore excursion, bus ride, experience, etc. that pays commission?” OR “Who pays the most commission?” . I see it asked in every online travel agent forums, and I have heard it in many conversations between travel agents. When did you last hear it asked, or ask it yourself?
Have you ever heard of the ARK principle? ARK stands for the acts of random kindness we do in our daily lives. I firmly believe it is possible that one ARK a day could help your business grow. An ARK is done with absolutely no thought of personal benefit or financial gain. I won’t go off on a lofty goal of living a more spiritual life or serving like Mother Theresa, however, let me share a more secular example of thinking about others first.
Back in February, my daughter and I were on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. On the second day we met up with a family of three from New York City. They mentioned that their planned ship’s excursion in St. Thomas had been cancelled. They didn’t find out until after they boarded, when they received a note from the cruise line. After we said our goodbyes for the day, I went back to my stateroom to email the tour operator I was booked with and asked if there was room for three more people.
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A few hours later I got a response. He had no extra space; however, he gave me the contact information of another tour operator. Still at sea, I emailed the new tour operator and after dinner I had a response that there was space and their pricing. As we were sailing into San Juan, I gave this information to the family. They called the tour operator and confirmed the excursion. Little did they know I told the tour operator their son would be celebrating his ninth birthday. After our day in St. Thomas we came back from our separate excursions at the same time. As we rode back to the ship together they were bursting with satisfaction from what they called “their perfect day.”
Did I earn anything more than warm thoughts and praise that day? Not one red cent. However, almost a month later the matriarch of the family – the planner, the Cruise Critic active reader, the one who always looked for the best deal – called me out of the blue wanting to book a Canada cruise for this August. She usually books direct or with some other agency, but she said she had seen the level of service I provided and to her that spoke volumes. She even willing paid my consultation fee.
Don’t take from this that you should never be paid for your services or that you should give away all of your profits in service of others. I truly believe that exceeding a customer’s expectations instead of seeking the highest commissions for yourself has the potential of earning you a far better reward.
Should you find a vendor that you know is not only the right fit for a client but will make the difference from a good trip to a great memory but does do not offer a net price or pay commission, don’t be so quick to strike them from your sell list. Those ARKs you perform in life will reward you in the long run. Of course if you are really concerned about how you will pay your bills, you should charge a consultation fee. However, that is the subject of another article!
Chuck Flagg is a regular contributor to TRO and an independent owner/operator of Cruise Holidays in Canton, GA. His website is www.theflaggagency.com He can be found on Twitter @theflaggagency