Service Fees are a Must

Dear TA’s,

As summer approaches, and the outlook on travel improves, certain added fees are making a comeback. During last month, for example, most major airlines reinstated charges for some ticket changes. That didn’t take long at all!

To attract travelers during the pandemic, many companies suspended additional fees and charges, but they never stopped needing that additional revenue.  Now that people are starting to travel again, the fees have come back. These fees fall into two categories: new ones imposed by countries on international visitors, and the fees charged by companies such as airlines, travel agencies and vacation rental firms.

The island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean is now charging a mandatory $30 fee for a Visitors Protection Plan, which covers medical expenses and a medical evacuation – even if you do not need or want it. The Bahamas is charging visitors $50 to $70 for a Bahamas health visa. The visa covers basic medical expenses on the islands. It is predicted that even after the end of the pandemic, countries may keep these medical Visa requirements to offset medical costs for tourists, or institute strict medical insurance requirements.

Certain vacation rental companies have added security charges and increased security deposit requirements.  There was an increase in high-risk bookings during the pandemic – resulting in raucous parties and property damage.  Guests have used fake IDs and stolen credit cards to book and even uses the rented spaces for criminal activity.  New fees cover the costs of noise sensors, cameras, and guest-screening services.

In the past, a travel agent’s earnings came almost exclusively from commission from service. Since the pandemic, many agencies are now charging a fee for their professional services, time and knowledge, and most customers are willing to pay these fees. Booking travel with a travel agent provides a peace of mind, especially with the ever-changing travel rules and restrictions implemented since the pandemic.

The time a travel agent spends creating an itinerary and talking with the client is worth money. If a travel agent is not comfortable charging a service fee, they can offer to deduct it from the booking at the end of the trip or use the fee amount as a credit for a future vacation.

Don’t be embarrassed to charge a service fee. If your client doesn’t want to pay, you can easily add his/her name to a waiting list so you can eventually work on their itinerary AFTER you work on the ones for those who are willing to pay for your time and expertise.  

Once you value yourself, your clients will too!


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