Dear Travel Agents,
I’d be rich if I got $1 every time I heard someone make one of the following statements: if only I could be more like her/him; be more assertive; charge a fee for my services; tell clients upfront not to waste my time; or… Every time a travel agent comes to me for an advice with matters like these, I tell them – be yourself, everyone else is already taken. DO, SAY and TREAT your clients the way you would feel comfortable being treated. Don’t try to imitate someone else, otherwise, you will not be YOU.
Learn from your own mistakes and try to correct the best way you can, not by being someone else, but by being you.
For those who are not comfortable charging fees for your services, take my advice to avoid feeling used.
I always tell travel agents not to multitask when talking to a client or prospective ones; be 100% present and listen to them. Ask the important questions:
- how many people?
- how much is the budget?
How does the client (or prospective one) sound?
- very assertive with their answers?
- flaky and not so sure?
- so automatic it sounds like they have said this over and over?
- multitasking and not 100% there?
The answers to these questions provide you with big clues about who is seriously booking, who is shopping around, and who is just browsing and wasting a travel agent’s time.
For the flaky ones I usually say with my sarcastic sense of humor (that is who I am!) to call me back when they are ready to book, and have done all of the “homework” (answering my questions).
For the ones who speak like an automated computer, I ask them to send me what they perceive to be a good itinerary. About 90% of the time, they will forward me another travel agent’s itinerary. Then I ask if they are looking for a better price or service. Now we know who we are dealing with.
For the multi-tasking ones, I ask when is a better time to talk so we can both be totally present with no distractions during this important conversation.
Most of the time, when you will get the assertive and ready to book ones, after listening carefully you’ll be able to get them a quote.
Follow up on the same day with your quote, and if it will take few days to prepare, keep them posted and in the loop.
Sometimes you will be wrong, and the ones you thought were so ready to book will never respond to you, even after you have followed up a few times. It is normal to take it personally. After all, we are humans – I have felt that feeling many times. But for a moment, consider how childish and scared this person is behaving. Instead of wearing the big-boy pants and saying something like: Sorry, I am not interested now, or, Something came up, but I will get back to you in the future. Instead, this childish and immature person would rather burn all bridges with you, and not respond at all. Shame on her/him.
You have now learned about that person – not to work with him/her for free again, or not to work with them again at all. But you shouldn’t change yourself. After all, there are a lot of people very eager to have a travel agent just like YOU!