“If you make your business about helping people you will always have plenty of work.”
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, page 197
I can almost hear many of today’s readers saying to themselves right now: “Raise prices? How can I raise prices if I don’t even charge a fee in the first place?”
Good question. An alarmingly sad question, but a good question just the same. If you are not already positioning your services as a valuable contribution to one’s travel plans, then perhaps it is time you start thinking about it… today.
Years ago the travel agency model allowed for a commission-only system which satisfied the cost-to-profit-ratio, and it appeared to work to everyone’s satisfaction. A travel agent’s position in the distribution system was recognized as an integral part of the puzzle since they alone had access to all the pertinent information. This is no longer the case in most instances, thanks to the Internet.
The travel agents’ contribution has grown into a more complex relationship between consumer and supplier. Simply serving as a “booking mechanic” cannot be justified anymore. In order to remain in the loop, you must bring appreciated value into the equation, and to me, this more than warrants a modest fee for your labors.
The problem, as I see it, is many travel agents do not believe they are significantly contributing to the relationship (I mean really believe it). Once you begin to bring something of real value to the client’s travel plans, you will start “believing” and charging a fee will no longer be a major obstacle needing to be overcome.
For those of you already charging a fee, I want you to ask yourself if your contribution is being fairly compensated to your complete satisfaction. Don’t fool yourself. You are running a service business with costs that need to be addressed monthly. If you are as good as you think you are, and you need to be, a 10% bump may not be too much to consider.
I am not advising you to raise your fees. I am asking you to think about it. Only you can determine if you are getting paid what you are worth. (I am suggesting that, if not doing so already, you need to be charging a fee for your work.)
I also want you to know that the travel industry is not the only one that does not have a handle on this fee discussion. Just about every service company out there is questioning if they are under or over charging for their services. I mention this so you will not overreact and begin thinking that you’re not qualified to be in this business. If you were working hard and doing your homework on a regular basis, you will definitely be in position to help clients make better travel related decisions. Now all you have to do is to make enough money to ensure that you’ll be in business tomorrow to help more clients.
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