OK, I am not sure of the origin of the axiom “penny wise and pound-foolish” but lets suffice to say it is British and I am too lazy to head to Wikipedia and look it up. But, the phrase is an important one that is all too apropos in the travel industry.
Ever since the Internet made its way onto the travel scene we have been professing that people are better off with a professional than the Internet. And initially that was, without a doubt, one-hundred percent true. Technology has advanced and the Internet has very ably been able to handle some of the mundane tasks we are asked to handle.
However, when things get complex, we are still the best solution. Tricky connections…complex itineraries…special occasions…FITs, and the like. Of course, some clients will always think they can do it cheaper, faster, or better online than you. And that is fine—let them go. They might get lucky. Or they might find out they were mistaken, the hard way!
But, as much as we like to carry the torch of “ask an expert” for our clients, as an industry, we are not so good about that. In speaking with colleagues, many of them have negotiated the sale (or purchase) of a business on their own. Nearly all who are in a storefront operation, reviewed and signed the lease without the advice of an attorney or real estate professional. Some who still use a GDS will simply take the contract provided and sign it with the assumption that there is nothing to negotiate. And let’s be real, as much as we all profess to support our locally owned businesses, we have succumbed to the lures of Cyber Mondays and Amazon Prime Days!
Stop it. OK, when you can’t buy locally, you can use Amazon, but for the decisions that affect your business (or really any major decision), seek the experience of an expert. One agency I know was not sure what NNN meant on the lease and did not seek the advice of an expert prior to signing. Well, it means “Net Net Net” and in this particular case meant that the agency bore the cost of a new $18,000 HVAC system when the old one failed. I know many that have negotiated the sale (or purchase) of their agencies. I would never do that without the advice from Bob Sweeney (Innovative Travel Acquisitions) or Mark Pestronk a renowned travel attorney. In fact, Mark when I had retail locations and multiple GDS agreements, Mark was instrumental in saving our agency literally $25,000 a year. In the end, it’s a small price to pay for that kind of savings.
So, keep up the good fight and making the case for using an expert to your prospects and clients—in fact a great newsletter topic is “when trips go south when you wanted to go north.” Keep explaining how clients will go to an attorney when they need legal advice or to an accountant when they need tax advice. It only makes sense that they seek out a travel professional for travel advice.
And the same advice you give to them, ought to apply to you. It is not good for your clients to be penny wise and pound-foolish….nor you!