I just read a post on an agent-only site where an agent was complaining about how tiring it was to have to beg to get an “agent” rate for the whole family and it frustrated me. There were some who replied with examples that with certain hotels, this is never a problem and someone else chimed in with “why should the whole family get an agent rate?” The more I thought about this, the more it annoyed me and how I wholeheartedly agreed with the comment about why should the family get a discount?
I go to seminars, attend trade shows and different presentations throughout the year and I know there are those that seem to simply go for the freebie giveaways, free food and drinks. It seems that many are there to collect things, win trips and eat. I am not saying this is everyone and not suggesting that all who attend these events do it for this reason and this reason only, and certainly if a trip is given away or tickets or a hotel stay, that is a nice perk, but when I have talked to vendors on the side, I have asked them if they feel that is worth their time spending the money to come to these trade shows and events and many confide that they don’t; and for the reasons stated above.
For those who may feel offended by this rant, this is not a blanket statement, just my frustration at the comment that someone felt compelled to beg to get a discount for the family when it is an “agent” discount and a professional courtesy. I know we work hard for those small margins that seem to get smaller all the time, no matter how we try to change the paradigm. It is nice to be given these perks, but to those who abuse the privilege, think about it, you are presenting an image that tarnishes those who try very hard to maintain professionalism and not bring a negative bearing to the industry, both from a vendor view and that of the public. Perhaps in the near future, these “discounts” won’t be available, just like airline commissions. This is a business and you have to earn the privilege.
From a cost standpoint for these vendors, the vendor I spoke with questioned why they still attended. I am wondering if one of the main reasons there are less and less of these “shows”, is because the return on investment is not worth it. Handing out brochures and not getting any business from it would be very frustrating to the vendors and I can’t blame them.
We are not in the business to win trips or get discounts. We are in this industry to provide excellent experiences for our clients and if we are privileged enough to be given an opportunity to experience something complimentary or at a discounted rate, we should be appreciative, not complain if we can’t give this opportunity to the whole family. I don’t beg for agent rates. There are FAMS, if you are so inclined to get the experiences to be able to turn around and suggest the destination or resort, some even do allow your family to attend. I rarely, if ever go on FAM trips any more, but create my own experiences to share with my valued clients, which gives a more real experience.
When I travel, I do not overtly say I am in the industry, expecting that I am owed something. I am not owed anything; and more importantly to me, I get to see and feel what my client would experience. I know a number of colleagues who approach it this way which is the professional way to approach it. Others I know that are simply in it for the freebies and will announce as much and demand some sort of perk regardless if they have ever sold the product or ever intend to sell it. As with any industry, you have to earn the privilege by selling the destination, cruise or tour consistently, so the vendor knows that their generosity or professional courtesy will be returned by the sale of their product. If all you do is ask for discounts, then this reflects badly on the industry and there will be less opportunity down the line.
I do on occasion, ask a vendor or hotel if there is a discounted rate for myself, and if they say no, I leave it alone. In fact, on a number of occasions, I have simply attended an event, had a discussion with the vendor, explained how I sell that destination and they have offered something totally out of the blue. I am very appreciative of this and try very hard to return the favor by suggesting the hotel or the destination so the vendor does not feel they gave the discount without any return. Sometimes the return takes longer, sometimes it happens right away.
But I do not beg.
Jamison has traveled to over 50 countries, including most of Europe. Wandering Puffin LLC. Is located in Minneapolis, MN. Jamison can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 763-244-0669. www.wanderingpuffin.com.