I saved the best myth for last. I say it’s the best because once you are freed of its power, you will increase your earning power substantially. Get this one right, because it’s devilishly tough to make it as a travel consultant without being able to move past this myth.
Myth #5 – Clients Won’t Pay a Planning Fee
Actually, what many agents will tell you is that their clients won’t pay a “plan to go” fee. These agents know that other travel planners collect an up-front fee, but remain convinced that for some reason their clients are different and will refuse to pay any type of advance payment for services. I think I believe in you more than you do.
Indeed some clients will refuse. Mostly the ones shopping strictly on price. Or the ones that will take your research and book elsewhere. Or the ones that spend the least, but ask the most of you in every exercise. Suddenly, an up front fee does not sound so bad, does it?
Call it a “research fee” or a “retainer”, a “plan to go fee” or a “deposit”, an up-front fee is a good idea. In TRO’s study of the Characteristics of Top Travel Agents (an 8 minute video you should watch), charging a fee was one of the most highly rated common characteristics. Look at the top 100 Conde Nast or Travel + Leisure agents: without exception, those agents charges fees. Not only does charging an advance fee comport with your image as a professional, it also separates the serious clients from the tire-kickers and shoppers. Will you lose some business? Perhaps, but you will also make more money. TRO’s Community is filled with stories of Travel Professionals who began charging fees for the first time and who were pleasantly surprised by the client’s reaction. One agent charged $500 for her efforts – on top of her commission – for her first fee.
Travel agents wanting an excellent primer in how to approach integrating a fee into their practice should also view the Nolan Burris No Limits Webinar in TRO’s Community. There, Nolan lays out the rationale for a fee, how to explain it to clients, position it as a value and market the fee without fear of losing the sale.
Sound incredible? If so, then it’s time to spend an hour alone with yourself re-thinking your psychological positioning. What kind of clients do you want? What are your goals? How do you envision yourself as a professional? Let me step out on a limb and challenge you with this: If you are not charging a fee, is it because you don’t think you are worth it?
Your time as a professional is valuable. The first step in migrating to a fee-based practice is to convince yourself that you are worth it. Once you understand the value of your time, the next step is communicating that value to your clients. You can charge a fee. Your best clients will pay it. Some won’t, and in the resulting calculus you will be a happier travel planner.
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