I’ve spilled 10 things I’ve learned as a travel agent, and 9 ways to annoy a travel agent… but what about you kindhearted people out there who can actually see the value in travel agents? How do you get your travel agent on your side, so that they will appreciate you as a client, just as much as you appreciate them as your travel agent?
You may be thinking, “why would I want to have my travel agent love me?” It’s the same way you want your bartender to love you, or your doctor’s secretary to love you. If they like you, they’ll go above and beyond to make sure you’re well taken care of – that your drinks are well poured or that you get squeezed in to see the doctor, even if there really isn’t time for you to get seen. I often times found myself spending my own money on little extras for clients, begging suppliers for upgrades, and just generally going out of my way to make sure my client’s experience was amazing. But the client had to be deserving of such special treatment – I wasn’t going out of my way for just anybody. Here are some ways you can get your travel agent to love you.
- Bring a souvenir from your trip
When a client would come back from their trip and surprise me with a little momento from their trip (that I helped put together), it gave me the feels. I had clients bring me back everything from a stuffed kangaroo from Australia, to a beautiful coral necklace from Saint Lucia, to a small bottle of limoncello from the Amalfi Coast, and more. It made me feel super special and like I did a really good job at making their trip a reality.
- Bring a coffee/treat when you’re in the office
Again, it gave me the warm and fuzzies when a client took the time to stop by the coffee shop around the corner and brought me –or even my entire team – a doughnut (even if I don’t eat doughnuts), or a cup of coffee. It made me feel valued.
- Take the time to give an honest review of your trip
I always appreciated clients who would call, email or come in to discuss how their trip went. I want to hear all about it – what went well, what didn’t, what your thoughts on the hotels we chose for you were, and all that jazz.
- Be understanding that your travel agent is simply a middle man (aka. don’t shoot the messenger)
Things sometimes go wrong. It’s almost never the travel agent’s fault. There are things beyond our control that occur in the process of travel. Everything from prices going up (or down after purchase), to flight delays, airlines losing baggage, a stomach bug going around a resort, etc. Keep in mind, your travel agent is simply the middle man, so while these things are annoying, and can put a damper on your trip – 99% of the time it is NOT your travel agent’s fault so please don’t take it out on them.
- Send positive feedback about your interaction with your travel agent to their manager/ higher ups
- Be realistic
I’ve mentioned this in another post, but it must be said again – it’s simply not realistic to want to go to Bora Bora for your honeymoon -1 week, 5 star, overwater bungalow – for under $2000 a person. Having realistic expectations may require that you do a little bit of homework on your part –or simply be open to your travel agent educating you – but it will help minimize disappointment and maximize enjoyment.
- Treat your travel agent with respect
Didn’t your momma ever teach you the “golden rule” – treat others like you’d like to be treated. Travel agents are human, not the Internet – that’s the point. In this day in age where we’re so used to disconnecting physically to connect technologically (ie: giving up the face-to-face for the texting or facebooking) we sometimes forget how to behave when dealing with a real-life person.
- Mail a postcard
When I sent my good friend to Australia for her first experience Down Under I was happily surprised when I received a postcard in the office mailbox from her. There’s always something special about being able to hang something in the back room for all your colleagues to see. Plus, in this modern day – who doesn’t love receiving a piece of personalized mail that isn’t junk or bills!?
- Set appointments (and stick to them)
You make appointments to see your doctor, a realtor, or interior decorator, so why not your travel agent? If you truly want to have your travel agent be able to set aside time and give you their full attention for a certain amount of time, make an appointment with them. It helps them plan their day, and helps them be prepared with suggestions for you.
- Refer your friends and family
What better way to show your appreciation, than referring more business to your travel agent? You may not have the means (or vacation time) to allow you to travel 5 or 6 times per year… but you’ve got a wealth of connections who may be looking to go on a trip or two. Why not spread the love?
See… not everything I have to say about being a travel agent is bad, and in fact, it was these awesome clients – the ones who went above and beyond- who made me (and my colleagues) feel like the job we were doing was worth it. I’ll be the first to admit that while it was the paycheques that made me come into work each day, it was dealing with the pleasant people who respected my time and showed their appreciation in their own ways that would keep me mentally going (especially when times got rough).
A travel agent’s job isn’t always rainbows and butterflies – and by that I mean it isn’t all discounted travel and awesome freebies. Many days are spent dealing with airline schedule changes, issues with travel insurance claims, people having to find last minute flights to attend a funeral, and things going wrong, all while putting together awesome itineraries and selling people their dream trips. As I’ve said before, a travel agent’s job is, often times, a thankless job; so when clients do take the time to show their appreciation, and treat you like a valued human being – it reminds travel agents why they got into their job in the first place: to help people make their travel dreams come true.
Travellers: Have you ever gone above and beyond as a client, and done something nice for your travel agent?
Travel Agents: How has a client gotten in your good books?