I was recently asked in a networking event why I introduce my business as “Travel Counsellor” rather than “Travel Agent”. My reply was that I was in business not just to sell travel but to help clients make the most of their trip, be it leisure or business. At times, even convince them with justified reasoning’s to cancel or reconsider their travel destination and/or plans. And that means offering advice.
To give you an example, once, potential new clients contacted me about a visit to Dubai. They gave me exact dates and I put together couple of different itineraries as per flights/dates given (I always give more than one). Both program felt rather rushed to me, but were exact dates as requested and workable.
Upon further discussion and learning more about their travel plans and reason for the visit, I suggested an additional day on different flights, as their original bank holiday weekend plans would not have done justice to the cost and time spent traveling. I got them to reconsider their plans on my advice. I could have booked what my clients wanted and sent them on their way. But if I had, I would have been abandoning my role as a planner. The clients were happy with my advice and upon their return have booked another long-haul and longer duration Safari for next month.
Then there were the clients who wouldn’t listen to anything until I say it as bluntly as possible. For example, a family of five—who wanted a compact car and thought I was simply trying to make more money when I told them a compact car was not suitable for their Pacific scenic route self-drive holidays in USA, with luggage for five! With some extensive reasoning, In the end they booked a minivan and even sent me a “thank you” card!
Only last month, I had a silver surfer couple booked on an Atlantic cruise for September, for which they had put down a deposit of £100. When the date came for the balance payment last week, I found out that the husband was awaiting results of a cardiology follow up and had not received the “all clear” results yet from his cardiologist. I had to tell the clients to cancel at the loss of deposit. They argued that Insurance would cover the total cost of the fully paid cruise if for some medical reasons, they were not able to travel. What they overlooked was the fact that travel insurance does not pay out if you are awaiting test results which eventually leads to cancellation. Thankfully, they cancelled and lost only the £100 deposit. I can always book them another cruise once they get the medical clearance, but would not have been much help in recouping their total payment from travel insurers, in the event the doctors advised not to travel.
Dictionary meaning of “Agent”; “a person who acts on behalf of another person”, e.g. online travel agents(OTAs) or travel booking sites.
Dictionary meaning of a “Counsellor”; “someone who is trained to listen to people and give them advice”, e.g. Travel Counsellors.
Which one would you prefer me to be when it comes to booking your travel?