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The Customer is King (and I) – Simply Sales with Scott

1 The Customer is King and I – Simply Sales with Scott

Become the King of Travel Advisors!


Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners



We have all heard the phrase that ‘The Customer is King’ and no doubt treating your clients royally will reward you handsomely. The colloquialism is also truer than ever today, as in all retail endeavors it is without doubt a buyer’s market. The words of Mel Brooks never rang so true: ‘It’s good to be the King!’ The customer has the power, and they know it and like most Kings they are well informed, have extraordinary resources available, and have confidence. Or do they?



I think the customer is exactly like the King in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, The King and I. The King of Siam, brilliantly portrayed by Yul Brenner, who was smart, powerful, and extremely confident. He was just like the consumers you deal with today. However, I think he also displayed another side of being King that your clients are also experiencing. While he had vast amounts of data (think internet) and knew he held the power, he also was smart enough to know he needed to be open to other ideas and counsel.


The story presented in the musical introduces a British teacher who is ostensibly brought to Siam to teach the children of the King. In short order, it is obvious that the King is the one with all the questions. But he has difficulty understanding the need for a different opinion or accepting help. This should sound familiar – the Customer is (just like the) King! With access to all of the answers (websites) and the ability to make the decisions by themselves (booking engines), why would the King (consumer) need advice from a schoolteacher (travel advisor)? The King of Siam struggled with this by singing:


When I was a boy

World was better spot.

What was so was so,

What was not was not.

Now I am a man;

World have changed a lot.

Some things nearly so,

Others nearly not.

There are times I almost think

I am not sure of what I absolutely know.

Very often find confusion

In conclusion I concluded long ago

In my head are many facts

That, as a student, I have studied to procure,

In my head are many facts..

Of which I wish I was more certain I was sure!

Is a puzzlement…


The King brilliantly finds himself with plenty of facts but possibly because of the sheer volume of them he finds himself in a…puzzlement! And so, it is with our Kingly customer today. Based on a plethora of websites, every cruise, tour and resort looks spectacular and they very well may be! It is easy to hear consumers today saying – ‘I am not sure of what I absolutely know’. Vacation travel is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, and as professional travel advisors, you know that if one little piece is missing, then the whole result is flawed. Many consumers are just now discovering that travel is ‘a puzzlement’ and they need your help! They may be as stubborn as the King of Siam and need pleasant persistence to discover your worth but once you win them over you can become their most trusted advisor.


1 The Customer is King and I – Simply Sales with Scott


The good news is that not all customers will be as intimidating and tough as the King of Siam. However, all customers still need the royal treatment as you help them plan their next vacation. In “The King & I”, the teacher always had respect for the King but also expressed her opinions and helped him grasp concepts that were quite foreign to him (like telling consumers there is more to the decision process than price alone!).


Becoming a trusted advisor to the King does not happen overnight. In the musical, the teacher did not initially come to the palace to fill the role of an advisor, but over time she proved her worth through her knowledge and actions and eventually took on that role for the King. It is the same with consumers today who, in many cases, really have no idea what a travel advisor does or what value you can bring. It is up to you to make your value known and to build a strong relationship with your customers. The interaction between a travel advisor and the consumer is truly a wonderfully engaging dance.  Ultimately you want to hear each King (client) you work with say what the King of Siam said:


We’ve just been introduced,

I do not know you well….

But when the {research} started

Something drew me to your side.

Shall we dance?

On the clear understanding

That this kind of thing can happen,

Shall we dance?

Shall we dance? Shall we Dance?