Last updated: 10:48 AM ET, Mon March 14 2016

Travel Agents: When Things Go Wrong...

How you handle difficult situations makes all the difference to your customers.

Agent@Home | Travel Agent | Dan Chappelle

Travel Agents: When Things Go Wrong...

Sometimes no matter how well we prepare and practice, things go wrong. I recently hosted a webcast to share my e-learning program, “Secrets of Selling to the Affluent Traveler.”

We had over 400 people from all over the world register for the hour-long event. I logged onto the webinar provider and gave what I thought was one of my best performances. The problem, however, was that no one was listening. Unbeknownst to me, there was a database error on the webinar provider’s end, and registered users were not able to log on. In short, my program failed. However, as the presenter, all appeared to be running smoothly – until I signed off and checked my email.

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Here’s what I did: As soon as I gained access to the registration list, I immediately sent an email to acknowledge the problem. I didn’t try to put a “spin” on it – rather, I told the truth. My students took time out of their busy schedules to attend the webcast. Many took their lunch hours or time away from work to participate. For me, it would have been the same as waiting for a client who failed to show up for an appointment. I apologized and expressed gratitude, letting the 400 people who had registered for the event know how much I appreciated their efforts to participate in the webcast.

Once I took that action, the tone of the emails I was receiving turned from anger and frustration to gratitude and understanding. I also accepted full responsibility – even though it was the technology provider who failed to deliver. My students had signed up to learn from me – and that didn’t happen. Fortunately, the malfunction was related to the database portion of the program rather than to the webinar broadcast itself. I had the recording, and a link was sent to all registered users within a few hours so that they could review the information at their leisure. As of this writing more than half have done so, and the feedback has been very positive.

I also scheduled a “make-up” date for those who still wanted to attend the actual event. Just remember that things can – and will – go wrong. How you deal with those issues will ultimately determine whether your customers will choose to do business with you or find someone else.

So How Do You Make Things Right?

Take full responsibility. Even when an issue is technically the fault of a third party, make sure your clients know that the buck stops with you.   

Put your customer service skills to work. Apologize and express gratitude. Let your clients know how much you appreciate their business.   

Correct the error. Offer your clients options to remedy the error. You’ll fi nd that client feedback will invariably be positive – putting you in a positive light as well.


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Agent@Home Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the February 2016 issue of Agent@Home Magazine.