Don’t settle for any travel supplier–4 tips to find the best one | TravelResearchOnline


Don’t settle for any travel supplier–4 tips to find the best one

No matter what destination you choose to sell, it’s likely that there are numerous tour operators specializing in that area, all eager to execute the vacations you design for your clients and vying for your business. Remember that the tour operator you select (unless you’re booking all elements directly) reflects your brand, your reputation, your integrity. Your perfectly designed vacation is meaningless to the client if not executed flawlessly by the tour operator.

So, with numerous tour operators to choose from, how do you select the right ones?

  1. Know your own standards for delivery and service. You can’t select a vendor whose standards mirror your own if you’re unclear what yours are.
    • How knowledgeable are their reservation agents? The company may tout it specializes in a region, but is the person you’re actually talking to on the phone an expert? I invest much time and money in learning a region, and I expect my travel partners to be equally vested.
    • How quickly do they respond to your request for an itinerary—hours, days, weeks? Why settle for a vendor who is sluggish in returning your calls or meeting your needs? How long are you kept on hold? Are you required to book online to save the vendor time/money, even if you prefer a real person’s input?
    • Do they listen and respond to your input about your clients’ needs and priorities, or does the itinerary they hand you reflect their own agenda for personal biases or selling goals? I conduct an intensive consultation with clients on their needs/wants; is the vendor equally engaged with my client’s desires?
    • Are their communications clear with no room for conjecture and misunderstandings?
    • Are their travel documents professional and substantial in appearance, or do they utilize e-docs to save them money on printing/postage?
  2. Ask travel agents that you trust and who share your standards for their recommendations; ask pertinent questions of your colleagues on why and how they trust that vendor. Attend seminars and presentations of vendors that interest you, and make it a point to speak to them personally and initiate a relationship.
  3. What is their payment policy? Not only how much commission (gross or net) but when do they pay—when docs delivered? When the clients leave for travel? Two months after clients have returned from travel? I pay my bills promptly, and I expect a travel partner to pay me promptly, too, if they want my business.
  4. Try the vendor’s product yourself before entrusting any client to them so you have firsthand experiences to judge them. They might talk a good talk but are sloppy on delivery. The one time I violated this rule some years ago, I paid for it as the clients’ vacation was rife with unacceptable glitches that should have never happened. It’s now my ironclad rule, no exceptions.

What other parameters do you consider when choosing a vendor?

Anne Rose is President of Cameron Park, CA-based Celebrate-Travel, Inc, a boutique travel agency specializing in custom-designed leisure travel. She is passionate about travel and loves helping consumers experience the joys of travel. Anne also was elected to the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation under the aegis of the CA Seller of Travel whose function is to adjudicate CA consumer claims against CA travel agents.

  5 thoughts on “Don’t settle for any travel supplier–4 tips to find the best one

  1. Chris Morse says:

    Many vendors sell to travel agents and to the public. Many vendors use the internet to offer special pricing that travel agents have a hard time matching.
    As a HOST agency owner, I do not allow my preferred vendors to sell to the public, and that they match or beat any internet rate that they offer on the web to the OTA’s.
    Many of the vendors are trying to get agents to book on line, reducing the amount of personnell at their call centers. We all know that it is much less expensive to receive an internet booking than it is to create one on the phone.
    Vendors take note- many travel agents want that personal touch, they want to know which hotels have specials, which ones are in construction, and which ones have the amenities that our clients are looking for. The internet does not offer any of this advise.

  2. Eunice Koome says:

    The above article is spot on , However in the quest to save money some Agents end up booking clients with Tour Operators offering cheaper prices and this sometimes compromises on service delivery .

  3. Anne Rose says:

    Thanks, Eunice. And you’re right that some agents end up booking with the cheapest supplier–I hear that a lot. And then I have to wonder: ‘shouldn’t you be looking at the best value for your clients, not the cheapest?’. We agents complain about clients who look at the cheapest price without analyzing the value, and then some TAs fall into the same trap!

  4. Peter Walter says:

    Very nice article. Yes, there are some suppliers selling directly to clients. But there may be a few reasons. One of the biggest one would be, not enough support/ request from travel agencies. Money collected from clients are considered as a full income. The travel agent may earn commission, but do they even ask if there is a way to do business? They may earn more than they think.

Share your thoughts on “Don’t settle for any travel supplier–4 tips to find the best one”

You must be logged in to post a comment.