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View Full Version : TRO - Travel Agent Myths ?


tdew
01-17-2011, 09:57 AM
http://www.travelresearchonline.com/blog/index.php/2011/01/five-travel-agent-myths-clients-know-what-they-want/

I just read this article and have to say that it is NOT a total myth. It's up to the agent to know the client.
If I speak to a travel agent it's because I've already done my research and do know where and when I want to go. If the agent seems to be trying to change my mind - I'm gone!

Loonbeam
01-17-2011, 06:17 PM
Well, there's different levels of this sort of behavior. I've had my TA strongly suggest against a hotel or flight option I selected and usually gives me a reason or I back up mine. I'm happy she doesn't blindly accept my direction. That said, its a mutual thing, not a one sided process.

The flip side is a TA who does this to steer business to where they get the most commission. That's a whole different kettle of fish.

This kind of behavior happens not just in the TA world, heck even bad doctors do it...

Ned
01-17-2011, 07:03 PM
I think you're right. My TA knows I've done a lot of research on a destination before I come to him and we treat it as a partnership to figure out each trip. I do know to keep an open mind about many specifics, however.

Sometimes though I have a lot of things worked out before hand. For our last trip to Paris, Mrs. N. had already found a great apartment for us, so accommodations were unnecessary. We also knew what side trips we wanted, but in that case, he knew of another place we could go which we hadn't considered which ended up being great.

It's a partnership which works best in my opinion.

http://www.travelresearchonline.com/blog/index.php/2011/01/five-travel-agent-myths-clients-know-what-they-want/

I just read this article and have to say that it is NOT a total myth. It's up to the agent to know the client.
If I speak to a travel agent it's because I've already done my research and do know where and when I want to go. If the agent seems to be trying to change my mind - I'm gone!

galavant
01-18-2011, 07:26 AM
It's our job as travel consultants to ask you why you chose a particular destination, to help ascertain whether it's what you really want, and is a good fit for you based on your answers.

Often I've had clients come to me with a specific trip based on pricing ...because of a special they saw advertised...or they talked to friends who went to a destination and loved it. I have to take into consideration if they have the same interests and travel desires as their friends. I've had clients also who knew exactly what they wanted. After some questioning, it seemed they did their homework. It's my job, as a travel professional, to determine if you're going to be happy with your choices, and make my recommendations based on your answers. I'm not here to second guess you....but fit the right trip based on your travel desires and needs.

Patti

Annette
01-18-2011, 11:26 AM
I have to say that while I can see the point the article is trying to make, it's very poorly written and frankly kind of offensive.

Many times, as an agent, you get someone who thinks they know where they want to go based on the recommendations of others. I want to go to X country and stay at X resort because my neighbour just came back from there and they said it was fabulous! But sometimes their priorities might not be the same as the neighbours - maybe they really want to go swimming in the ocean and that location has terrible beaches and rough water. Maybe their neighbour neglected to tell them that oh yeah this is a clothing-optional resort. So in that respect yes it is our job to make sure that the resort that you've chosen is going to meet your requirements. We want you to have the best stay possible, and if we know something about the location that's going to interfere with that, or if we know someplace that we think might be better suited, we're going to tell you.

Having said that, these days most of the clients that come to us are pretty internet savvy. They've had a chance to look through brochures and websites and forums and find out information. Some of them are really good with doing their research. Some of them aren't. But the way the piece was written comes across as patronizing and arrogant. IMO.

Mind you since TRO bills itself as "The voice of the travel agency community" they may not be counting on clients reading it?

tdew
01-18-2011, 11:57 AM
But the way the piece was written comes across as patronizing and arrogant. IMO.

Mind you since TRO bills itself as "The voice of the travel agency community" they may not be counting on clients reading it?

Annette, I think that was exactly my take on it. I realize that there are many people who don't do the research ahead of time. There are also some who go to the travel agent and ask "where should I go?", but I'm not one of them and I think that needs to be recognized.

When we were going to spend a couple of days in Madrid last Sept. I chose the hotel for very specific reasons. After I had decided on it, I found that it was rated #1 on Trip Advisor. The travel agent we were working with for the cruise bookings jumped in and tried to get me to change to a different hotel. There was no "I've stayed there and it isn't as good as ...." Or even "I've stayed in this hotel in Madrid and it's great" The choice seemed to be based on Star rating. We continued with our original hotel and it was WONDERFUL.
I would recommend it to friends.

deangreenhoe
01-18-2011, 12:04 PM
Editorial style aside, here's the way I look at the article content.

One of the most frequent criticisms I hear/read of people in my industry are that some are nothing more than order takers with little value to contribute to the travel booking process. So here there is encouragement for agents to focus as much on the consultation aspect as handling the financials.

I can also research a lot of things that aren't really my area of expertise, like electronics, insurance programs, tax law, etc; etc; etc; But I'm certainly not going to take offense if a professional I contact in those realms offer differing opinions or greater insight into what I have concluded on my own. In fact, if they had nothing to add, I'd figure they weren't doing their jobs properly.

From my viewpoint over the years I've done consultations with a whole lot of people who thought they had solid information about an intended destination or travel experience but based on our conversation it became quite obvious that their expectations would not be met. It would be a great disservice not to point that out if you knew the truth to be otherwise.

This forum is populated by members that are quite a bit more travel savvy than your average consumer. If as travel professionals we assumed everyone was as prepared we'd end up taking the heat for booking some pretty disappointing vacations. (It's the old "why didn't you tell me?" syndrome.) If you automatically assume that an agent has ulterior motives for offering alternatives then you shouldn't be dealing with a consultant in the first place. That's what they are meant to do. And if you have an established relationship with a TA it's highly unlikely they are going to upsell or steer you toward a higher revenue supplier against your best interests because alienating your trust and loyalty goes totally against their best interests in the long term.

So I say, cut the concept (which indeed is meant for agents, not consumers) a little slack. :)

mercwyn
01-18-2011, 01:47 PM
There are a number of issues that a travel consultant faces when someone comes in and says "this is what I want". I may know something that the traveler doesn't, for example, the resort that they are requesting may be scheduled for renovation at the time that they are planning on going or I may know what sort of issues other travelers have had at that resort and it may be why I would suggest an alternative. As a consultant, it is my job to offer the traveler alternatives and to explain why I am offering the ones that I do. As for the notion that I would try to switch someone solely on the basis of getting more commission, that is silly. I'm not in this for a one time pay off, I want repeat customers and if I put my own interests first, I won't get them. I may try to switch a traveler to a vendor that I have a better relationship with and thus will be able to do more for the traveler. For example, I may suggest switching airlines to one that I can get the traveler a space available upgrade at no charge or I may suggest a specific hotel because I know that they will treat my clients to a number of extras, like upgraded rooms and credits that can be used around the hotel. I may or may not get more commission from the vendor, assuming that I get any at all, but I can provide better service overall and that will build my repeat business.

tdew
01-18-2011, 02:10 PM
I can understand your (collective) viewpoints. It was the tone of the article that I was complaining about. It sounded as if every member of the public who is traveling is also a complete moron who has no idea of what they want to do.

Part of my fun is figuring out where I want to go and what I want to do when I get there. If something turns out to be not as I expected it to be, I want it to be my fault, not someone else's.

I had the same sort of problem when I tried to buy a washer and dryer a while ago. I had figured out exactly which brand and model I wanted to buy. At the store, after waiting for the salesperson to finish with the customer before me, I said "this is what I want to buy" - then she tried to talk me into something different. It could have been an EASY sale for her - instead I ended up leaving and buying it elsewhere.

mercwyn
01-18-2011, 03:51 PM
The biggest problem that I encounter with those who do their own research and then purchase the product from me, after I offer alternatives and explain my reasons is that the vast majority of those that experience some issue or another, then come back and blame me for not "telling them ahead of time." There are some who come back and say that they regret not listening to me but those are the exception.

Ned
01-18-2011, 05:45 PM
I get the same thing about computer equipment. A client comes to me saying get this or that for me as I know all about it. I try to get them to an alternative. They tell me no, just get what I want. I get it. It has problems, and I get blamed for not "forcing" them to purchase my recommendation. It's human nature.

The biggest problem that I encounter with those who do their own research and then purchase the product from me, after I offer alternatives and explain my reasons is that the vast majority of those that experience some issue or another, then come back and blame me for not "telling them ahead of time." There are some who come back and say that they regret not listening to me but those are the exception.

jrmsp
01-25-2011, 01:38 PM
I have the opposite problem -- I have people who call up and don't know what they want or won't tell me, i.e. "Oh, someplace warm, anytime in March" and give a bunch of vague responses to questions, and then don't book because they don't like what you came up with. It's a short road from "someplace warm" "anytime" to "not there!" or "not then!"

We are not mind readers. When we ask you questions, we are truly trying to determine the best match for you, not being nosy.

katroa
01-27-2011, 06:50 AM
I recently had a client do all his own research and want me to book what he thought was a good idea. I refused. This idiot wanted to make a 38 minute train to plane connection in Amsterdam (no!) and a one hour connection from port to plane in Malaga (no!). He acted as if he 'knew it all and has been everywhere'. I ended up only booking his transatlantic air because he refused to understand you can't travel like that. He ended up missing his return flight. I bet he took that 38 minute connection!!