Tale of two fees | Travel Research Online


Tale of two fees

Dr. Bob Joselyn enlightened me about professional fees more than twenty years ago; and I’ve been on a mission to help others overcome fee-fears ever since.  As a result, my email inbox receives a steady stream of success stories and pleas for help.

I hear from those who struggle with $10 service charges; and those who collect $250 with ease.  I’ve seen successes in virtually every market imaginable.  For every proclamation that it won’t work, someone is doing it.  Last month however, a truly unique situation developed. 

I received an email from “Agency-A.”  The agency is located in an average sized city with a somewhat transient population of average income, and a self-described “price-focused market.” They reported that fees have been a huge success for them this year.

In the same week, I received another email from “Agency-B” in exactly the same city!  Having read an article where I was interviewed about fees, the owner wanted tips to make fees work in a price-focused market such as theirs.

I was tempted to just introduce one to the other, but they were essentially competitors.  So instead, I asked questions.  I asked Agency-A how they made it work, and asked Agency-B why it they thought it wouldn’t.  Their answers were nearly identical except; where one saw opportunities, the other saw barriers.

Agency-A said that the price-focused market had driven down service levels as everyone scrambled to beat online deals.  So, their fee strategy was to dramatically ramp up service and charge a premium.  Agency-B said nobody cared about service, and that price was all that mattered in their market.

Agency-A said their service-focused approach began to attract a very different and more lucrative clientele over the course of the year.  Agency-B feared fees would scare away the clients they had, even though they admitted losing money on most of them.

One point of total departure was each agency’s perspective on what fees represented.  Agency-A said, they came to understand that professional fees were not for bookings, but for service, support, expertise and more.  Agency-B said they couldn’t imagine anyone willing to pay more “…just to book a cruise,” but they were open to learning how.

Agency-A (name withheld as requested): thanks for letting me share.  Agency-B is making progress one-step-at-a-time.

As things wind down for the year, I’m grateful to all the Agency-A’s who share their success stories, and all the Agency-B’s who are at least willing to giving it a shot.

Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry.  He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada.  Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.

  4 thoughts on “Tale of two fees

  1. Richard Earls says:

    Excellent stuff, Nolan. Perception becomes people’s reality. Change the perception, change the reality. ~ Richard

  2. Brenda says:

    If we don’t become confident about our expertise and services we will never feel like we can charge a fee. This is a great example of someone that get’s it….

  3. Nolan, More great stuff. Thanks to your teachings, I just negotiated my first TWO-PART planning fee. $99 upfront and then $59 later. Don’t know if I could have done it without you!

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