Friday, March 25, 2011

We sell Value, Not the Price Tag

Often times as travel consultants, we receive requests from clients with a specified budget in mind. Sometimes a client’s budgetary requests are reasonable while others may have some unreasonable expectations. In today’s economic environment, we all need to have a financial budget in mind. In fact, I encourage my clients to state what their budgets are up front so that I may be able to make recommendations that will fit their expectations. Sometimes, what I’m able to recommend as a consultant comes in a little higher or below what a client has researched via Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity.

However, unlike Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, many travel consultants offer personalized services, expertise, and value through our extended relationship with vendors. In a number of cases, you will find travel consultants that specialize in a specific travel type or travel destination. Travel consultants spend hours researching destinations, educating themselves, and establishing relationships with hoteliers, cruise representatives, and airline reps to better serve our clientele; a clientele we hope are not mere window shoppers.

Often times, what we can’t beat in price, we can beat in value. You will never catch Orbitz, Expedia, or Travelocity, calling the general manager of a hotel requesting a little more in personalized services or discounts on spa treatments, wine and food tastings, or added amenities. It is very rare that you see Orbitz, Expedia, or Travelocity, continuously rewarding repeat clients with gift cards or gift certificates to their favorite restaurant or even tickets to an amusement park. I can never recall a time in which either online agency suggested that I not travel to places like Costa Rica or Panama during their rainy season or even advising on what type of travel documents I will need or how much I would have to pay in entry fees into a country. At the same time, we don’t utilize every vendor available on the market. We utilize trusted vendors that we believe will take care of our clients.  (Please read our previous post on why you need a travel consultant.)

Veteran travel editor and well known owner of Elite Travel International, Stacey H. Small, writes in Agent@Home magazine, “This year, I resolve to focus even more on getting my clients the best possible value for their dollar. This does not necessarily mean getting them the cheapest price, since what they expect from me is more for their money than they can get if they were to book direct” (p 36). This is the goal of any reputable travel consultant.

We are in the business of offering our clients the experience, not the price tag. We want to give our clients the gift of value, relaxation, and appreciation. We don’t want to just book you and send you on your way. That mindset short changes the client and is bad for business in the long run. We want to retain you as clients. We want to make you happy and we want to hear your lovely stories and view your photos upon returning from vacation.

I get excited when I know I’ve done my job well and pleased a client. If a client mentions that they have researched and spotted something cheaper than what I’ve offered, I always ask for a copy of what they have been able to find. I do this to ensure we are not comparing apples to oranges and to also see if a vendor can meet or beat a competitor’s price. It is always in a client’s best interests to share this information because we will go to bat for you. Hotels and cruise lines are constantly changing prices or marketing special promotional rates.

Because of the individualized attention I give to clients along with the added value, many of my clients are more willing to purchase a package that may come in slightly higher than Orbitz, Expedia, or Travelocity because they know that they are safe in my hands. They know that I will go out of my way to address a problem if anything occurs during their travels. They are also aware that I will take care of them after their return. Your dollar is definitely stretched further with a dedicated travel consultant.

No comments:

Post a Comment