Dear Tammy: Last week, I learned a lot when I read your column where you talked about how we can get taken advantage of by our vendors. I’ve been fortunate that this hasn’t happened to me and was appalled that it even happened to someone else in our industry. Even still, I’m interested in learning more about what I can do to stop this deceit from happening.
Thanks for your words and it’s smart that you want to know more about this even though it’s not even happening to you. Becoming more educated about the trials and tribulations of being a travel agent is definitely a start. It’s important to know the signs and the things you should do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
As I mentioned last week, one of the first things you need to do is to work with businesses that have a stellar reputation. If anything stands out with a vendor that shows as being sketchy, it’s important to dump them from your vendor list right away.
There are plenty of fish in the sea who want to work with you in this industry because they know that you can bring them many customers and they aren’t going to steal the ones you brought through their front door.
Why? They know that behind that guest is more, but if they do something unethical, that door closes.
Good businesses respect your ethics and your hard work as a travel agent and, most importantly, if a client does book a future trip with them while on the property, they should compensate you appropriately. The same goes for cruise lines: While on board, they offer your clients great incentives to book with them again, you should be receiving this commission. At the end of the day, they are your clients. There’s no question as to whether or not you can depend on them to do the right thing.
Next, it’s time to talk to your clients. If your client is going to a resort and you know that there’s even the slightest chance that the resort will pull them aside and try to sell them another trip or even a time share, warn them. It’s okay to provide them with the information they need, which means you should tell them why this isn’t right in the industry. Casually mention how you have been there for the client, providing outstanding service and being a voice for them should something go wrong.
The resort can’t do that. They can’t make the client’s plane reservations or be there for them if they lose a passport. Explain to your client that if they want to book a reservation with the resort for another trip, they should come back to you and not book directly with them.
Finally, another way that clients can be taken is through co-branded sites.
How do you know that when the client is on your site, looking at a resort and they get ready to book? How many times have you been on TripAdvisor searching a destination and then in the next three days you get messages via email that give you offers for that same destination? In today’s world and technology we all have the capability to obtain IP address and even their email address.
Remember, the co-branded site is not your site. It is the vendor’s site, and you have access. If you have not received a commission check, make sure you question where your commission checks are and if they have or can get you a report of what activity is coming through on your co-branded site. Sending them through the co-branded vendor’s site, you have led your client away from you. You are the most important brand on your site, so make sure that your site points back to you and not the vendor.