Here we stand, more than 15 years since the airlines began to cut commissions and other travel suppliers (in various ways) began to follow suit. Here we stand, more than 15 years later a smaller, yet stronger industry. Here we stand, more than 15 years later, still very viable and vibrant. Here we stand, more than 15 years later and many of us still don’t “get” the value of our services while most of our clients do. If I could tell you a way to realize a solid 10% or more income on your entire business, would you listen?
For almost all of those 15 or more years, we have been incessantly bombarded with the fee, fee, fee mantra. The message was simple—why allow your business to be at the mercy of another entity when you can control your own destiny? There are a myriad of ways to implement your fees—per transaction, per booking, retainer, consultancy, plan to go, etc. You can make them non-refundable, refundable, applicable to final payment, etc. There is not a single right solution for anyone; but the reality that in order to survive in today’s volatile market is there. You must charge fees.
We are our own worst enemy when it comes to fees. As a whole, we do not believe in ourselves nearly as much as we encourage our clients to believe in us. It may be a hard concept to swallow, but it is true. I was guilty if it when my retail agencies first introduced fees—why would anyone pay us $15, $25, $40 to simply issue a ticket or book a trip. Especially when it could be done online with relative ease?
The answer was simple—because of our knowledge and because of our service. It is really that simple. A good friend of mine, Christopher Elliott has recently written a book called Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals cites an incredible study by Harris Interactive, it was said:
…an overwhelming majority of respondents—85 percent—said they would be willing to pay more than the standard price of a good or service to ensure a superior customer experience. More than half said they’d be willing to pay 10 percent or more, and a noteworthy 1 in 10 said they’d pay 25 percent or more.
Let’s rehash that–85% of the people are willing to pay more than retail for good service! Now isn’t that powerful stuff?
So just how do you a) find those 85% and b) develop the superior service that will retain them. To get started on the 85%, I might suggest looking at your own database. Look for people who have booked with you more than once—you can at least assume they were not dissatisfied. And then, make sure you treat them with the kid gloves. With our new social media world, it may be more and more difficult to control your reputation and provide that stellar service, but if you are interested, another friend of mine, Peter Shankman wrote a book to help you out there. Customer Service: New Rules For A Social Media World.
While Chris’s book focuses on scams and how to avoid them as a consumer, there is much insight to be gained by taking a look from the other side of the aisle—from a consumer’s point of view. Just don’t get on his wrong side and you will do fine.
For some hands on tips for managing your business, have you seen the newest addition to TRO—the whitepapers written by publisher, Richard Earls? These are free downloads available on TRO with helpful, actionable advice ranging from marketing plans to public speaking, to advertising. Check them out! (free registration required)
And while on the topic of good books written by friends, for a fun read that has absolutely zero to do with your business, but offers a glimpse into the life of a flight attendant, Heather Poole’s Cruising Altitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet is a funny must read!