Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,
Last week we talked about not wasting your time with prospective clients who are not serious about your efforts. Those who shop around and expect you to work for “free.”
This time I want to address the suppliers you reach out to in order to book trips for your clients. Lately, I have seen many posts showing pictures or screenshots of how long you have spent on the phone waiting to book, or to change a booking with a “vendor,” a cruise line, a hotel chain, resort, etc.
Since the pandemic, the number of phone calls has increased astronomically, and to help with the demand, many new “agents” have been hired with very little training. Every time you are being put on hold, this “new” agent is trying to get the information through a colleague (who is also busy on another call) or through a manager (who is overwhelmed by so many requests). It depends on the phone system – but while you are on hold, the same agent is answering another call until he/she gets an answer to help with your call. Can you visualize this situation now?
By the end of this call, you are frustrated. By the time you get your commission and divide it by the number of hours you have invested in this booking (not even getting paid for pain and suffering!) you probably made $2/hour.
How can you avoid this? First and foremost, on every phone call, identify yourself with your first and last name and ask the other person for their first and last name. Ask them to spell it for you. Be nice, say something cute, like: Oh, what a lovely name, or I like how your name is spelled. Write their name, the date and time on a note pad (Yes, I am an old fashioned) or on the computer. Start to ask your question and IF you feel that this person does not know enough, ask for their supervisor or simply hang up. Don’t get frustrated! Start the same process again until you get someone with lots of knowledge within that company. If you are calling to change a booking, make sure you get a confirmation number (even joke that you want their blood type as well!) to make sure EVERYTHING was documented in the computer.
With their complete name, date and time, you can send a written compliment or complain to the supplier. This is the one tool you have to make sure they keep the good employees and get rid of or give the right training to the bad ones. SPEAK UP to your BDMs give them your list of the bad agents and the good ones. Ask for the direct number for the good ones. Until you and everyone else SPEAKS UP, there is no reason for the supplier to invest in proper training if they can just hire enough people to answer the enormous volume of phone calls.
Now you decide. How much does your time cost?
Cheering for you!