We have all received that call or email from a client about discounting a trip. This week it was my turn to hear from a client who is well traveled and only enjoys luxury travel. The conversation began with “let me bend your ear a little.” Nothing about her conversations is ever brief.
She spoke for 20-25 minutes about tours she researched for Russia, which ones she preferred, and asked which tour operator would be best based on her travel style. I gave her my picks and told her the quotes will be in her email shortly. That’s when the ball dropped. She already received quotes from a travel agency well known for discounting, and wanted me to match the price. I told her to send the quotes, and if the tour operator would honor the price, I would as well. The trips were discounted by ten percent and of course not honored by the wholesalers. One of the discounts offered a rebate check upon return. The tour operator told me their attorneys said once the trip is expired, they cannot do anything about it. The second tour operator told me they do not have a no-discount policy and it is up to the agency if they wish to discount the packages.
Recently, I brought up this situation up in an online forum. Over 70 agents agreed we need to stand our ground and not discount. One agent said he would do whatever it takes to bring in the business. A day later, two more agents posted separately about discounting. One agent had customized an itinerary for high-end clients. The other agent had clients who wanted airfare and excursions after planning a trip through another agency who did not offer amenity planning. The first agent held her ground and flatly said “no discounts.” The second offered her services for a hefty service fee, negating any savings they had through the discounter.
Back on my client now; knowing the extra care this client requires, as well as my expertise in the business, I decided not to fall prey to the discount trap. I sent her an email thanking her for her past business, but let her know I was unwilling to devalue my expertise. I reminded her how happy she had been with my service in the past and reminded her that she called me for answers she did not get from the discounter. I also asked if she would discount her rates if asked by a client and diminish her worth.
Some agents will discount just to get the booking. I am confident that the discount-seeking clients would never ask their doctor or lawyer for discounts! My preference is to work with clients who value my professionalism and knowledge. Once you open Pandora’s box, closing it becomes a struggle. I ended the email letting her know I do appreciate her business and look forward to hearing from her in the future.
How do you handle the client who wants you to discount?
Adrienne Sasson, with Rubinsohn Travel in Jenkintown, PA, has been creating travel memories for clients for over 16 years as a travel professional. She has been successful in brand creation and is well versed in sound marketing, continuing education, and creating strong relationships. Adrienne has been asked to speak at the NY Times Travel Show and contributes to industry magazines both for agents and consumers.