Over the years, the travel industry has conditioned the buying public to shop for price. These days, it is far easier to feed the beast than to change decades of conditioned behavior. As a distribution channel, we too deserve a good chunk of the credit for perpetuating the discount-driven vacation market. Research shows it’s not just contemporary and premium customers who expect a discount – its affluent buyers as well!
One of the services I provide my corporate clients is to “mystery shop” their businesses. Recent experiences confirmed what I often observed as a supplier sales executive. Many travel professionals do not adequately qualify their prospects and will often do the prospect an injustice by “underselling” the experience.
What do I mean by this?
They simply don’t ask enough of the right questions to determine what the prospect really wants. They tend to get the basics (who, what, where, when) then jump straight into their own comfort zone of mainstream and premium products. By doing so, not only is the prospect’s vacation experience short-changed, but the lost commission potential may be quite high.
A few more questions about how the prospect typically travels, expectations they have, and the type of experiences they desire – the “why” – will go a long way to help the agent make the right offering.
Based on the feedback from thousands of travel professionals at my speaking engagements, when an agent does sell a deluxe or luxury product like Seabourn or A&K, it is generally because the buyer raised their hand and specifically requested the brand.
Often, the conversation goes something like this:
Agent: I can get you on XYZ Tours for only $2,000 per person.
Prospect: We were looking at Triple Diamond Tours online, how do they compare with XYZ?
Agent: They are a lot better, more upscale…
Prospect: Ok, so how much are we looking at?
Agent: Well, um, uh, it’s $15,000 per person, but I can give you a discount and if the price drops I will make sure you get it, and…
Getting this out takes about 30 seconds. The first 20 seconds were the agent getting up the courage to state the price, the last 10 seconds babbling about discounts.
Folks, there is a term for this. Its call “Negotiating with Yourself” and travel agents are some of the best in the business. Why does this happen more often than not? It’s simple: how you feel about money will have a tremendous effect on your ability to ask for and earn it.
If you want your customers to spend five or six figures with you on a VACATION, not on a house or a car, but a VACATION, you had better get comfortable asking for and earning the “MONEY.” A little trick that worked for me early in my career is what I called the “Pucker Test.” Start at $100 and add zeros until it becomes a number that makes you squirm. Initially for me, that number was $10,000. Over time, I worked through it by offering more and more higher-end packages until the number became $100,000, which I pushed past as well. Will you sweat it out? Of course, but it’s just like anything else; the more you practice, the easier it gets.
Stay tuned for “Negotiating with Yourself – Part 2” to learn how you can overcome this challenge with one easy step.
You can order my new book, “Get Your S.H.I.P. Together – The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales” now available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions.
Dan Chappelle helps travel sales professionals achieve full potential by transforming their mindset and focusing on fundamentals to produce real results. He speaks internationally on strategic business development in the travel & tourism vertical. His signature keynote & workshop “Secrets of Selling to the Affluent Traveler” helps organizations, entrepreneurs, sales professionals, employees, and business owners gain meaningful competitive advantage.
His new book “Get Your S.H.I.P Together – The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales” is now available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions. For information on Dan’s education and sales programs, visit www.WealthyTravelAgent.com