I hear it all the time. Agents complaining about having to arrange experiences to enhance their client’s adventures that do not produce revenue–taxis, transfers, reservations, etc. Now while we are ultimately in this to make money and earn a living, and not a charity or an information service; we need to realize that to stand out above the OTAs and mega-sites that not all the services we are able to provide, will earn us money. It is just the way it is.
If you are full service, then figure in a way to cover your time for the non-revenue services you provide. If you charge a professional planning fee for these services and prove to your clients, and the potential clients, the value in the process, then they will come back and buy. Yes, there are those who think they can do better on the Internet (the “closet” travel agents and the unmentionables that buy into a pyramid). From the outset, I tell them I know I can do better and set out to prove it. I also let them know that my time and experience come at a price. The more of us that do charge for their services, the more people will know that we are still out there and viable. We should not have to rely on the ASTA’s of the world, especially in our respective local markets. Make yourself known to those in your area about what you do and why you are better able to arrange their next travel adventure. Build a rapport that works for you locally. If we take this up as a grassroots cause, we will have success and thrive.
I make dinner reservations for clients in Europe and am not compensated, or a tee time in Hawaii. Sometimes I get compensated…other times not. Knowing that the client will be happy and will be a repeat client can and should be seen as a form of compensation. I have no issues in providing these non-revenue services when the client is paying thousands of dollars for their travel experience. I truly think the pendulum is swinging back to those who know of our professional value and willing to pay for it. If you sit on the sidelines and assume people are going to come to you, then you might as well shut your doors, take down your website and not make yourself known. Remember, it is up to us, not the vendors, organizations or anyone else, to sing our praises about what we really do and our value.
One may be able to find the “cheapest” price on Trivago for a hotel room, but Trivago can’t tell them that the hotel is in a bad area of a town or a good. I do read TripAdvisor, which has become more mainstream, but at the same time, I take every review with a grain of salt, and more importantly, my own experiences to determine if the option is the best for my valued clients. This is common sense in not only determining the best for the client, but also in educating them and showing them you are the expert and your time and experience are valuable and worth paying. Not to mention you are able to see what they are likely seeing and bringing into you as “objections” to the sales process.
We are not order-takers, we are professional travel consultants and arrangers of all aspects travel– revenue and non-revenue generating. Depending upon your niche or specialization, you will encounter times when there is a non-revenue component to your client’s itinerary. There is no magic pill or bullet that works for everyone. It is ultimately your choice on how you address the non-revenue aspects of our profession and turning them into a positive so your clients are ecstatic about the experience from beginning to end and not complaining about them. I choose to provide the service up front and count on the return on the back end. Agree?
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.