Dear Travel Agent,
Who are your partners? How loyal are you to them? How do you build your relationship with your partners?
I have been watching these business relationships for many years. And, for over 23 years, I was personally part of these types of partnerships. As the owner of a tour operator company I have helped many travel agents – sometimes “saving their lives,” or a lot of money by helping them to avoid making mistakes.
The agent/supplier relationship is very special, and should be taken very seriously.
When a travel agent keeps changing suppliers, always looking for the cheaper one, they are not building relationships. What happens when they need a favor? For example, a name changed, a few extra days to make a payment, or a waiver on exchange. How can they can approach a brand new supplier they have no history with for these types of things? Even worse, how would they deal with Expedia or another online booking engines? How can they even ask for a favor or to correct a mistake?
Building relationships with suppliers is as important as the relationships built with clients, and trust is the name of the game.
I have many stories I could tell about when I went to battle for a travel agent, just to “save” him/her for his/her client.
One funny story happened few years ago. A travel agent took her group to Cambodia, and during their shopping time (on their own) they bought “diamond” and “ruby” rings for $100. Trying to save even more, they paid cash. A few days later the rubies and diamonds started to peel, and the rings made their fingers green. Once back in the US, the travel agent called me and asked me to intervene. As you can imagine, that was not an easy task. But luckily, using our relationship with our office in Cambodia we were able to get the “jewelry” back to the store, and the money back to the travel agent.
Here is my advice about this one: Don’t pay cash, ask for a guarantee, and if it sounds too cheap to believe, DON’T buy it!
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