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By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE[/caption]For the past 20+ years, I have worked in the travel industry, and I can tell you with 100% confidence that there has never been a time when travel advisors have proved their worth more than they have over the past 18 months.First, it was rescheduling and canceling of trips during all the uncertainty of the early months of the pandemic when we had no idea how long this would last.Next came rebooking trips – sometimes multiple times.For the past few months, it has been rebooking AND keeping up with the near-constant changes in requirements to travel. It isn’t just having to put together a trip and find availability, you then have to help the client figure out how they can actually be admitted to the country.Sometimes when you are deep in the trenches just getting things done, you forget how much work you are actually doing. Many travel agents I know are incredibly self-deprecating and shrug off how much work they actually put in to a client’s trip including an incredible amount of handholding.Clients who work with travel advisors have to be the smartest people in the world because they know they have an advocate by their side who has their finger on the pulse of what’s going on and will notify them of any changes they need to be aware of.Yet there are still many people who don’t book with agents and many of them fall into two groups. The first are those people who secretly want to be travel advisors and they love every minute of researching and planning! The second group is people who simply don’t understand what travel advisors do. They have an outdated notion that all the agent does is “booking”. That is why your marketing has to include a component of education – to help clients understand what it is you do and the incredible value you bring to the table.Anyone who has read my articles or heard me speak will know the next thing I am going to say. Since you bring so much value to travelers, you must charge a professional fee. You deserve to be paid that fee every single time from every single client!One of the traps that agents sometimes fall into is thinking that the fee isn’t necessary because they are receiving a commission. One has nothing to do with the other. You are paid commission as a thank you from the supplier. The client pays a fee as compensation for your service.Another thing I hear from agents is, “Well, it wasn’t that hard because I do trips like this all the time.” Do you think the mechanic who just repaired my car said, “You can pay me half the regular amount because I already knew how to do this”? Of course not! Because you are good at it and have great connections is exactly why you should be paid a fee!Right now, many agents are so busy they don’t have time to re-evaluate their fees or much else. I hope that you will take a moment to think about what you’re charging and evaluate it in light of all you do for clients. Maybe it is time you gave yourself a raise!