This is a premise shared by many agents these days, especially with cruise lines.
The “commodity” idea is a red herring. There has never been a time when someone wanted to pay more for their travel and the hotel room, stateroom, etc has always been just that, a hotel room, stateroom, etc. Price has always been an issue; it was not as transparent as it is now.
Suppliers pay higher commission percentages to travel agencies so agencies would be the suppliers MARKETING and sales avenue. Suppliers knew they could not reach every neighborhood in a city as large as Los Angeles or in a rural area such as Wood River, Nebraska. Brick and mortar agencies had great displays, brochure racks, and posters on the walls or in the windows. Agents went out into their community and marketed suppliers product. Many agencies sent out supplier direct mail pieces to their client list or took out co-op ads in the local travel section of their Sunday paper. Suppliers needed us to market product. Read the rest of this entry »
Four little words, that in this age of instant and shorthand information seems to be lost. Often I hear thanks and in response to that, no problem. To me, when I hear thanks, it does not convey gratitude for my assistance, but just a reflex response. The no problem response is “I had nothing better to do, so I helped you.”
How often do we do this with suppliers? We’ve all had those reservation agents that we just want to reach through the phone and strangle. We also have that “rolodex” of supplier contacts that we know will always help us. We try diligently when we find that great reservation agent to get their extension so we can reach them again. During our hectic days and in the effort to get that quote to the client, I think we take these special supplier representatives for granted. Have you ever had one that just saved the day for you? I am sure you thanked them by phone or email, but that is generally where it ends. Read the rest of this entry »
Travel agent Tim Richmond has developed a “retainer” business model that he employs with his clients, and has recently been training other travel agents in his methodology.
As travel agents, we often look to other industries for their practices and techniques trying to come up with a compensation model that will make us profitable. The latest thought is to add service fees or as some would call them plan to go fees to all bookings.
I am a strong advocate of charging a fee, not for my service, but for my consultation. There is a lot of fear out there about charging fees. One of our industry partners has embraced the fee model and I fear travel agents are traveling down that same path.
Our mystery partner: The AIRLINES
At one time, when you bought an airline ticket, included in that price was a seat reservation, the services of a reservation agent, free checked luggage, a meal, maybe a movie and even on international flights, a cocktail. At one time travel agents sold travel and promoted that their service was free. The cost for their service was included in the price of the vacation. Many agents still work this way.
Airlines started out by charging fees for reservations Read the rest of this entry »
The holiday season is upon us. Last week it was the Veterans Days Sales. Now it is the Pre-Thanksgiving sales and soon it will be the Thanksgiving Sale, then the Christmas and Holidays sale, the after Christmas sale, the New Year’s sale, then the clearance sale, and on and on, and on. Is it any wonder our clients want a “deal”? Retailers have trained the consumer to think price. Look at Wal-Mart the largest retailer in the world; their slogan is “Always Low Prices, Always.” Even the large online travel companies are always touting how to save money. How often do you see supplier ads on television or in the travel section of your paper with prices starting at $399 or $599? Read the rest of this entry »
Most of us belong to some type of networking group. It could be the Chamber of Commerce, BNI or other organized marketing group. Many may belong to community organizations such as Rotary, Optimist Club, etc. The reason for joining these groups is hopefully to gain referrals and to give referrals to other members. We are trying to create a mini sales force for our business. This type of marketing can be effective, but sometimes it can be costly, or you just to do not get the right group of people to fit your business model. There is one network however, to which all agents have access.It is very cost effective, is the least utilized, but can offer the highest rate of return. Read the rest of this entry »
The other week, I had the opportunity to speak to several business professionals in my market. They were high dollar prospects and very savvy in the technology world. My topic was “Why a travel professional?” Of course, I know the answer to that; but I needed to drive it home with this tough crowd. Judging from the reaction I got after my minute long presentation, I succeeded. I wanted to share it here. Read the rest of this entry »
When a travel professional meets a potential client or is out marketing, you will always hear two buzzwords–service and value. When you take this same travel professional and put them with a supplier, the buzzword changes–sell. Is it any wonder we have an identity crisis? Are we sellers of travel or are we a service? Many of us do not like to be called travel “agents” any longer, as it stirs up the argument that we work for the supplier. We prefer the terms travel professional, travel counselor or travel consultant; as we tend to see ourselves as professionals helping arrange the perfect vacation for our client, utilizing our exemplary service and knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »
I participate in a few different online forums. Each day I read about travel agents should be charging fees, they need a retainer, that generalist travel agents are dead, they need a niche, to only do group travel, that the Internet will be the death of agents…You get the picture. All these issues have their supporters and detractors. No matter which category you may find yourself in, there is a much larger issue that needs to be resolved—why are these clients coming to you and why they are traveling. Without that question being asked, you are dead in the water. Read the rest of this entry »
Travel agents love numbers–commission percentage, commission dollars, marketing expense, budget, inexpensive, cheap, luxury, you name it! But, there is one number that is the holy grail of all numbers for most travel agents–sales.
We hold this number in the highest esteem. It is often used as a measurement of our success. Some agents or agencies are even able to use it in their marketing. YTB, one of the largest MLM agencies was ranked number 26 on the Travel Weekly Power list just because of their “sales.” As much as we like to hold this number in such high regard, it really is one of the least important numbers to agents. Read the rest of this entry »
What type of agency or agent are you and what type of client mix are you hunting for? Travel agents compare themselves to other industries; commonly it’s real estate agents, financial planners, attorneys or any other types of professions that require consulting and are paid a fee or commission.
If we look at the basics of what we do and how we are currently compensated we are more closely aligned with the retail industry. Our ultimate goal is to make money selling travel. From a retail perspective, I feel most agencies fall into one of the models below. Which are you?. Read the rest of this entry »
In tough economic times we hear about a business’s need for change in order to adapt to the economic climate. The travel industry it seems has been in perpetual change for the past fifteen years. As much as this industry has changed, the basic fundamental–compensation for agents, has not. We are still relying on the outdated business model of commission from the suppliers. Some agents do charge service fees or plan to go fees; but the majority are only doing this on airline tickets or inconsistently, at best. We see more “deals” out there from suppliers and this has the net effect of lowering compensation for agents, at times up to 50%. We are working just as hard, if not harder, yet reaping less for all our work. It is time for a change–a change that will benefit both agents and suppliers. Read the rest of this entry »