Written By: Joanie Ogg, Co-founder and Editor – Travel Professional NEWS®
Recently there was a very interesting and informative thread in our Travel Professional Community on how tactfully yet succinctly Fire a Client. As you read this title, you might have been thinking there is no way you would ever want to lose a client let alone be the one to refuse their business. It is all about growing your clientele and building more business, right? Well, truth be told it is sometimes in the best interest business wise and personally to Just Say No to a client or someone you have deemed may be a waste of your time and efforts.
Often times there are red flags and warning signs that you see and sense when dealing with some clients. What are some of those signs you might ask? Well, in this great conversation in the community, here were some shared by your fellow Travel Professionals.
“I have been looking at Group on and found some deals to Las Vegas. What kind of price can you give me?”
“I have been shopping online and have spoken to 5 other travel agents, what is your price?”
“No, I don’t want to give you my phone number or email. Just tell me your price now?”
“Can you get me a price for a four island trip to Hawaii and then I can take that to compare with others and see if your price is good?”
While these may seem a bit exaggerated I would venture to guess there are many of you reading this who have had similar conversations with callers in the past. So, how do you gently let them down or let them go? Following are several ways to diffuse the situation and or make it work for you!
Introduce a “Plan to Go Agreement”: By introducing a plan to go agreement you can set the non-refundable fee so high that the client will simply not agree to it. If the do agree to it, you can decide whether or not it is worth your time and effort.
Introduce a “Retainer Agreement”: Explain to the client that your normal travel planning hourly rate is $xxx and you anticipate that it will take xx hours to accommodate their request. Make it enough money so that if they say yes, you can do a bang up job for them.
Refer Them to a Competitor: Explain that while you can book their trip for them that it isn’t within your field of expertise and mention that XYZ travel is an expert at this type of travel. I have to admit that I did this once many years ago at our retail agency with a gentleman that simply liked to come in and talk for hours about taking a train to Los Angeles from San Diego. I told him we did not sell rail travel but surely the agency down the street might do so. Yes, I felt kind of bad doing it, but not that bad.
Send Them Online: Explain that honestly because of your level of expertise that you don’t normally handle the type of travel they are seeking and suggest that they might be better served by booking the trip with one of the online agencies. You would simply have to charge too much to service them and they can easily save money by booking online.