This week we are going to look at five common myths that many travel agents believe. If challenged, most good agents will disavow these fallacies, yet day in and day out operate as though these wrong-headed notions are correct. These myths are particularly insidious because you can get away with believing them for a very long time before they blow up and ruin a perfectly good travel planning effort, so a bit of care is in order to keep you from falling under their spell.
Myth #1 – Clients know what they want
The very reason clients come to a travel consultant is for advice. It is very seldom that a client knows exactly what they want, even if the client says they do. Many clients will come to an agent with the destination in hand, with the hotel and dates picked out in advance. If not careful, the agent picks up the phone and makes the booking without ever discussing the decision with the client. The client arrives at the destination and the hotel property is a total mis-match for the client. It looked good in the brochures, but the reality is far from picture-perfect. To top it off, it happens to be the rainy season and the client has been outside to golf only once since they arrived. Who does the client blame? The agent of course. Why? Because the agent is at fault!
Don’t let a client use you like an online booking engine. Your profession is one of consultation. Slow down the process to one of questions and answers even when the client comes to you with travel plans in hand. How did the client choose the destination? What do they want to do while they were there? Why are they going in November? What does the client want from this vacation? With whom are they traveling? Why this hotel? Each of these questions gets closer to uncovering the reasons the client wants to travel. The travel consultant’s job is to assist the client in making a good purchasing decision. If the agent does not assist the client in asking the right questions, there is no value-add by the agent. The client may have as well booked online and taken their chances.
Clients do not always know what they want. They say they do. The truth, however, is clients are influenced by advertising, by word of mouth, by friends and other resources that do not take into consideration the real needs of this particular individual. That is the real value of the travel consultant – matching exactly the right trip to the right client, and doing so from a professional platform of good research resources. Performed in this manner, travel consulting is a valuable service, one that cannot be replicated online, or by a client operating on their own.
Tomorrow: Myth #2 Clients expect too much