Stop second-guessing yourself | Travel Research Online


Stop second-guessing yourself

This past week, I have been privy to several online conversations where travel professionals are second-guessing themselves. First of all, you are a travel professional—period! While you may not know it all, you certainly know your market, your products, and most importantly your clients. Why would professionals ever begin to second-guess themselves? The whole reason you exist is because you bring value to a client that he or she is unable to get elsewhere.

The Loyalty Conundrum

One agent was lamenting on Facebook that a seemingly loyal client was rude and essentially “fired” her. The backstory was she was watching airfares for a client and when it dropped she called and the client had already booked at a higher rate. 

The agent was all upset about the way she was treated and was debating how she needs to respond to the client (or former client). While the consensus of many was to make sure that he knew he made a mistake, the one right answer (IMHO) was to ignore it and set the rules for engagement in the future with a plan to go fee.  His lack of loyalty and rudeness were not her fault. And, they are certainly not acceptable in her travel practice. Stop second-guessing your expertise!  Realize that the world is full of fickle people and move on—under your terms! If the client comes back (and he likely will), just explain that your new policy is to collect a fee up front to monitor the airfare pricing.  Believe me, after paying $100 per ticket more this time for his family of 5, a small fee to save that same $100 per ticket will be well worth his money—and it insures that you are compensated for you—wait for it—expertise!

Show Your Bias

Another example of second-guessing surrounded a client that was insistent on a particular cruise line. The agent had qualified the client and felt strongly that another line was much more appropriate and marginally more expensive. She was second-guessing how to “not appear biased” to the client by recommending another cruise line. By definition, we are biased. That is why people seek us out! They want to know what we feel are the best choices for them and why. Never be afraid to show your bias—wear it proud like a badge.

That is not to say that you should be steering clients based on a financial reward or a commission from a supplier—by all means sell to your client’s needs. But never be afraid to say, “I do not recommend Cruise Line X because of …” And yes, at times, clients will override your recommendation (it happened to doctors and lawyers all the time) and do what they want. You will need to accept that, reiterate why you have positioned yourself as you have and then appease them if you are able. Some agents will only sell specific suppliers (and I agree with this position) and allow clients to walk away if needed. I am not sure if they still do, but several years ago AAA used to refer clients to my office for handling of their non-preferred suppliers. 

We are in the business of recommending fun.  We have experienced far more than most of our clients and with that experience, comes expertise. They have sought out our expertise—whatever it may be—and we need to stand proud. We cannot be second-guessing our expertise; for if we do, then we might as well get out of the game!

  2 thoughts on “Stop second-guessing yourself

  1. Ann says:

    Very timely. I just chose to take myself out of a situation where I was not being taken seriously by a group (a non-profit I volunteer with, so essentially I was working pro-bono). The issue became that I felt the group was jerking around the supplier, and as a professional, I felt that was not the right thing to do with the supplier – it’s a reflection on me on that side also, not just the group. I apologized to the supplier and told the group I no longer have an opinion on this matter, since they were choosing to dismiss my concerns.

  2. For a long time I dismissed similar rudeness to ignorance and lack of social skills so apparent in hide-behind-the-social-media world. A lady called after spending 3 hours looking for a low fare the week before Christmas; when I gave the fare similar to what she already had her response was “I already have that, I thought travel agents knew what they were doing and would have lower fares!” Obviously, I coud not say what I wanted to so simply said ” I know what I am doing which is why it took me 9 seconds to find out what you found out in 180 minutes.” I also have done what Ann talks about her experience with a non profit. This is my 40th year in the business and I have earned the few gray hairs I have left!

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