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Stop Giving Away Your Expertise

By Sandy Saburn, CTIE[/caption]Like many of you, I am in several travel agent groups on Facebook. For the past few weeks, I have seen so many posts from advisors who are frustrated because they assisted people with vacation recommendations only to have them book direct with the vendor or on a website like Expedia.That happens to every agent at some point in their career, but when it happens frequently it is a sign of a bigger problem.What I am going to say next isn’t going to be popular, but I stand by it.It’s at least partially your own fault.Really.It is often a combination of managing the client relationship and marketing that attracts these types of people. Let’s look at each along with how to fix the issue.The first and most significant issue is that you jump right into quoting when a client reaches out to you. When you do this, you haven’t done anything to get to know the client or demonstrate your value. Especially the first time you work with a client you need to get to know them, and they need to know what you offer. If you jump right into providing quotes, you aren’t educating the client on your value.After you have demonstrated what you bring to the relationship, you can then you can introduce your fee structure.If you aren’t charging fees, then you are just asking to be burned. Travel advisors need to stop working for free! If you are providing a service and sharing expertise you are doing more than just booking a trip and you should be compensated by the client.When you jump right into quoting and don’t have a conversation with them and give them a chance to get to know what you have to offer, then they are far less likely to be willing to pay a fee. Worse, they are more likely to just take the info you give them and book direct or online.One way you may be attracting clients like this is by focusing mostly on price or deals in your marketing. That is a sure-fire way to attract people who are price shoppers. Remember, if you get them on price, you’ll lose them on price. Travelers who are primarily concerned about getting a deal and the cheapest price are high maintenance and unlikely to book with you again or refer people to you.Don’t confuse “deals” with “value”. All travelers want the most value for their vacation budget. That applies equally to people with a $5,000 budget as it does a $50,000 budget.If you are plagued by tire kickers and time wasters, take a look at what you are posting on social media. That may give you a clue as to where they are coming from.Of course, if you are participating in any kind of a lead program, they are built on serving people focused on price. They will be putting out requests to many agents at once with price being the only consideration in their decision.Remember that your marketing should be focused on YOU and what you have to offer. What you do for clients. Why will they benefit from working with you? Getting really clear about that and being able to articulate it to clients is a giant step forward to attracting the types of clients who will appreciate what you do, gladly pay your fees, and refer lots of like-minded travelers to you!