Several years ago, I took a cruise that was considered to be in the “premium” category. It was a stunningly beautiful ship and my cabin was excellent. The vessel was impeccably clean with a constant flurry of workers erasing every fingerprint and smudge along the way.
The décor was flawless and the spa was a sight to behold. The entertainment was the best I have ever seen aboard a ship — regardless of class. This might sound like a perfect cruise experience, but I would never do it again!
The food was absolutely terrible. It was not just “so-so,” but downright bad and, in more than one case, literally spoiled. Crème brûlée should not resemble cottage cheese floating in runny maple syrup. With one exception, every dish of every meal was only marginally edible.
Of course this epicurean disaster was the talk of the ship. Nearly everyone I met had something negative to say about the disappointing quality of the food. And even more disturbing was the number of people that had negative things to say about their travel agents.
Of all the people with whom I spoke, not one said their travel agent discussed food preferences or mentioned reviews or ratings of food for the cruise. To paraphrase Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman, the food was a huge mistake. HUGE! Food and dining represent the longest remembered and most talked about aspect of every vacation.
If you’ve ever taken one of my consulting workshops, you know how much emphasis I place on asking about food. It is just one of the six “zones of experience” I suggest agents discuss in their consultations. The other “zones” are related to activities, lifestyle desires, social situations, cultural issues and emotional desires.
Consulting and selling are two very different things. Selling is TELLING people things–consulting is ASKING people things. Consulting is about asking the right questions, in order to do the right research, in order to make the right RECOMMENDATIONS.
Without asking the right questions, you risk leaving the most critical aspects of vacation satisfaction to chance. In today’s world where travel agents are all too often seen as optional luxuries, it’s a gamble few can afford to take. In the case of the cruise above, it seems quite a few agents decided to just roll the dice and hope for the best. They crapped out!
True consulting does takes time; and time is money. This inescapable truth always brings me back to the only logical solution: fees.
Professional fees make the difference between struggling with high volume sales, and focusing instead on quality time, personal attention, and service. The contrast can be as dramatic as soup to slop.
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.