On Friday I spoke at The New York Times Travel Show on the topic of Specialization and How to be Successful in the Travel Industry. I also spoke on a panel discussing Small Ship Cruising…sort of representing Seabourn, but more so the luxury sector from the travel agent, rather than the cruise line, perspective.
During my first panel the moderator asked a question, “What do you do if someone calls you up and just asks for an inexpensive hotel room in San Francisco?” While it would seem that the “correct” answer is that you don’t waste your time with him because there is no profit in it (sending him off to Expedia or Travelocity) as other panelists were implying, I jumped in and said, “You treat him as you would any other person that calls your office. You have no idea who he is or what he actually wants!”
The audience of about 200 people seemed to be stunned. I mean isn’t being a travel agent about getting the “good” bookings and not wasting time on the little stuff? Aren’t you starting to hear travel agents assert they are “travel professionals” or “travel consultants” and that they charge a fee just to have you speak with them? Who made these “professionals” and “consultants” better than you?
Personally, I don’t care what you call me as long as you believe (and I prove) that I am an expert you can rely upon and are willing to trust your hard-earned money with. I believe I need to earn your business and I thank every single person for that opportunity…whether I get the business or not.
I got into the travel business because I knew I was more than the uninformed and uninspired travel agents I had been dealing with…and they did not truly respect me or my desires. As a result I consider every inquiry from every person to be as important as the ones I made that weren’t handled as I wanted. My questions as a travel customer were THAT important and weren’t treated as such. Yours are THAT important to me.
But I digressed!
So I told a story to the audience about what happened to me on Thursday (that’s right, the day before):
A woman called me up, letting me know that she already had booked a cruise and wasn’t too pleased with her travel agent because she couldn’t get a straight answer from him. She was simply asking if it made sense to upgrade from a Category A to an SY on the Holland America Prinsendam. Waste of time, right? I mean it is a question about another booking on a mass market line that has little potential for anything profitable for me as she already has it booked elsewhere.
Well, because I respect every question asked of me…and I know my stuff…I told her I thought the SY was the best value on ship and explained why. (You see I know lots more than just Seabourn!) She then proceeded to tell me this was a long cruise and that it was a $6,000 upgrade. And then she started to talk to me about another, more exotic, cruise she has booked on a luxury line for later in the year costing close to $20,000 and if I had any thoughts or alternatives.
The audience was amazed. What first appeared to be literally a $200 question turned into a $26,000+ question. Who would have thought that?
In fact, during the panel discussion there was a Tweet:
Listening to Mr Goldring at #nyttravelshow how he’s treating everyone the same! @GoldringTravel
It was a very rewarding moment because you never know if your audience gets it…and at least one person did.
But there is another side – one that you, as the consumer, need to be aware of: Most travel agents will turn away your inquiry about the discount hotel room or your question regarding a booking they may never get. Obviously that is not Goldring Travel.
And, as they say, I do practice what I preach. I do treat everyone as I want to be treated. Your holiday is very special and important to you. I never, ever, forget that.
So please: Ask me your questions, no matter how small or how unimportant you think they may be. To me they are all important.
And, of course, you never know: You just may want Goldring Travel to be your travel agent. Not sure? Give me a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY (or one of my international numbers or Skype) or drop me an email. I do truly appreciate the opportunity.