Is there a tougher question for a travel professional? Trust is one of the most difficult commodities to come by in any client relationship, but especially so in travel planning. In fact, the lack of trust is at the heart of most of the travel planner’s marketing challenges. New clients often don’t trust the travel agent to find the best price, deal, value, hotel or cruise. Travel consultants, in turn, don’t trust the client not to take research and book elsewhere. It’s a conundrum.
Trust is essential for a long-term relationship. How do we get there from here?
There is much that a travel planner can do to create a sense of trust in their clients. Keep your promises. Be authentic. Be empathetic. Demonstrate your competence. Don’t market based on price. Use testimonials from other clients.
But how do we learn to trust our clients?
Start with your client interview. Explain your expectations to your clients. Let them know not just what you will do for them, but also how you expect them to behave in the relationship. Talk to them about open communications. Demystify travel for them. Finally, and this is equally important, charge a planning fee.
But, you ask, is that trust? Aren’t you charging the fee because you don’t trust your client?
No. You are charging a fee so that you will be fairly compensated for your time. A happy by-product of that arrangement is you will have no fear that the client will book elsewhere, but the issue is one of professional compensation. Understand that consumers tend to trust the professionals in their life – the doctors, the lawyers, the accountants, the financial planners, all of whom charge a fee. A planning fee lays the boundaries of a professional relationship. Yes, you will lose some price driven clients – the same ones you would have lost to the first price driven advertisement they saw. A planning fee lets you and your client relax into the relationship.
Tell me. Are you worth a fee and, if not, can I trust you are good at what you do? If not, can your client trust you?