Come on, did you really think that I was that stupid? I’m not going to name any names for the simple reason is that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I like supplier “A” but my colleague hates them. It is a give-take, love-hate, relationship between travel agents and the suppliers. But there is something we can learn.
First, there is no golden child of suppliers. There is no supplier which will do it all right all the time. Once we get over that, we can dissect bits and pieces of each supplier to come up with an utopian suppler. Here is my wish list!
Be responsive. For me, before anything else, responsiveness is critical. With everyone pushing automation so strongly, if I send an email or call a supplier, there is a good reason and I want them to be responsive. There is nothing worse than having your BDM/DSM pass the buck and smile at you. These front line people need to understand that I (the agency) am their client and they had better be responsive to my needs or I will find another supplier. Remember there is always an alternative.
Talk to me. Change happens all the time. We are supposed to be partners and when a supplier makes a significant change, please communicate that change to us and the reasoning behind it so we can understand and relay that to our clients. There is no change that will not affect the end user in some way.
Be my partner. I understand you need to make money and have shareholders to answer to. So do I. But if we can communicate and be responsive (see points 1 and 2) we can find ways to be true partners. I have some hair-brained schemes that just might work for you and me and make us both some more money. But if you are not committed to partnering with me, you’ll never know.
Show some compassion. We make mistakes. Clients make mistakes. And believe it or not, suppliers make mistakes too! What’s the old adage—$#!@ happens. So as long as it is not a regular routine, why not bend the rules a little bit one or two times. A periodic waiver goes a long way! A supplier I no longer use refused to make a name change on a land only reservation when a client needed to replace a traveler because the booked traveler was unexpectedly killed in a car accident. I made my statement by sending all brochures back to them by FedEx!
Stop bad-mouthing us. Please don’t deny that you do it. Did you forget that we are travelers as well. There is nothing that will make me drop a supplier faster than when the suppliers representative on the ship, hotel, car rental desk, airport check-in desk, etc. explains how badly “my” travel agent screwed it up.
Don’t steal my clients. We also get that we haven’t done the best job for you and there is a need to take direct bookings. Personally, I am sorry for that! I understand that no one “owns” a client, but when I send one to you, please don’t solicit them on your own. Some suppliers are fantastic about communicating with past guests under the agency’s name. Others will just outright steal a booking.
Train your employees. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting on hold to speak to a “reservations specialist” for 30 minutes or more, only to have to tell them what needs to be done to help you. If you are unable to hire and train your salespeople properly, give us more access and we will do it ourselves–remember, we have been doing this for a long time. It is interesting to note that in my experience, there are very few suppliers who are in the middle on this. They are either awesome or horrible.
Make it easy. Sure your IT people are paid the big bucks because they have all those initials after their name and they are up on all the new technology advances. But before you design an agent portal to “make our lives easier”—ask us. Poindexter has never had my client at his desk while he tried to book a trip. Some of the booking portals are great. Others are horrible and for the most part, when a group becomes involved—fuhgeddaboudit!
So, off the top of my head, there is my wish list. This past week, I was reading some rantings on suppliers on the TRO Community. We have the largest community of travel professionals in the industry participating in our forum and reading our site. I am sure my wish list is not unique. Please take a minute to leave a comment and tell us what makes a supplier ideal for you.
And as for the title of this column, it’s called link baiting. You can be sure that travel suppliers will be here reading and hoping that they weren’t named. As I said, I am not naming any names, but to the suppliers reading—take note. Read the comments and learn from your customer!
And a small favor, before you leave, please take half a second and click the “like” or “tweet” button up top! Thanks!