As I explained yesterday, a limiting myth is a story a travel professional subscribes to in order to justify a timid approach to building a travel practice. Today’s limiting myth is one I hear often, in many different contexts. It almost always begins with the phrase “You don’t understand my customers. All they care about is cheap.” This introductory sentence is usually followed by an explanation of how this particular agent’s clients won’t pay a fee, or only cares about cost. Sometimes their clients won’t travel out of the country or their clients won’t buy insurance, or refuse to be loyal. The foundation of this limiting myth is that this particular travel agent’s clients are different from everyone else’s – some people may pay fees, or buy luxury, or purchase insurance, or call out of loyalty but not THEIR clients.
I understand it often feels this way. We hear all of the success stories from other agents, and we listen to the advice proffered by marketing and customer service experts. Yet, the people we encounter as clients don’t seem to follow the script. Everyone else’s clients might cooperate with fees and insurance and be loyal as a cocker spaniel, but not my clients.
This is going to be a bit difficult to say, even tougher to hear, but let me break it to you gently. The problem is probably not your clients.
Implementing a fee into your practice, generating loyalty, explaining value – none of these things are necessarily simple. There are proven techniques involved, ways of introducing these new concepts into your travel practice that time and experience have proven capable and worthy of imitation. Too many agents, however, skip the technique part of the lesson and try to move right to the end result. Rebuffed by their client, the admonished travel agent decides it’s her clients who are different.
Once you begin saying that it’s your clients’ fault, you lose a tremendous opportunity to take your travel practice to a higher level, to operate above the fray. It can be done. Your clients are not different. You just have to learn the proper way to train your clients.
Attend some training courses. Listen carefully to the instructors. Read the articles in this column. If you hit a bump, ask questions in the TRO travel agency community. But don’t give up.
By the way, IF the problem is really, truly your clients, here’s what you do: get some new clients.