Presentation is Everything!
Do you have a favorite travel supplier?
Even before I became a travel consultant I had my favorite travel suppliers. I would go to their websites first to check out itineraries and pricing. If I didn’t find something that appealed to me, I would check out other suppliers. I do the same thing for my clients. The suppliers I use must pass a few criteria before I will use them:
1. Customer Service – Let’s be honest, I believe customer service has to be held at a high standard because like any company you deal with if they don’t treat you right then they don’t get my business.
2. Travel Industry Reviews – I do read reviews from various travel societies, associations, and forums. I also take these reviews with a grain of salt. I am constantly getting emails from suppliers begging me to vote for this title or that title because if they get the most votes then they will be whatever of the year. I even get these emails from suppliers I have never even used! So when a review is a title, I take it with a grain of salt. When the review is a personal experience from the head of the association, I take it into consideration.
3. Customer Reviews – The best review is a past customer. People will be honest with you about their experiences with the supplier whether it was good or bad. I have had a couple of clients tell me their stories about a supplier and after reading other reviews, I will either use them or steer clear of using them.
4. Personal Experience – If I have personally used a supplier and really liked them I will use them over and over again. I will still consider using them even if I get a negative complaint. The experience I had, was worth it, but some time could have passed and the company may have gone in a new direction.
I think that personal experience is the major reason why people use the same travel supplier over and over again. You really get an all encompassing viewpoint of the company and if it works for you then why change it? I hear over and over again how Disney Cruise line is one of the best cruises that they have ever taken. I have clients hear the same from other people. I have never heard or read a bad thing about the Disney Cruise line either. Would I consider them one of my preferred suppliers, you bet I do! I also like when suppliers bundle everything in a neat little package for my clients. For instance, AmaWaterways sends little zippered travel bags with information books, vouchers, luggage tags, etc. CIE tours sends backpacks with luggage tags and strap, a rain poncho, ticket wallet, maps, and a phone card. When a supplier provides little packages like this it give me the impression that they want the customer have the best experience possible starting from the moment they receive the package. After all the saying goes “Presentation is Everything!”
So why am I writing an article about preferred suppliers and presentation? Well, I recently had some great clients of mine book a tour. I have heard nothing but great things about this company, which will remain unnamed. I personally had amazing customer service every time I had called and find their website easy to navigate. I am really excited for their tour in a couple of months but when I got the supplier’s “neat little package” in the mail I literally said to myself, “Huh, this is it?” I even called the company to ask if something got lost in the mail because I couldn’t believe that was all that they sent. I went through my checklist: customer service – great, travel industry reviews – great, customer reviews – great, no personal experience. Maybe my standards are too high or my expectations are too high? After all, it is about the experience that they will have on the vacation and the memories of a lifetime that they will craft. But why do I feel like this supplier fell flat with presenting my clients their vacation?
I have met a lot of other travel consultants throughout the years and I hear repeatedly that they only send their clients the final document about 2 to 3 weeks prior to the trip. To me this is not customer service. This is the same thing that their clients could do booking their trip on the computer. On top of that they charge a $250 service for their time. What time? What service was provided? And would you consider this service outstanding?
When I started my travel agency I wanted to make sure that everyone received exceptional quality and outstanding service each time they used us. This is the motto of our company and it is on my business cards and the first thing you see on our website. But like I said earlier on in this article, if you don’t like your customer service experience you tend not to go back! I didn’t have to take long to figure out what type of service our company would provide, it came rather easy to me. I had to provide something I myself would use and want to use! I want our company to make it easier and less stress-full to plan a vacation. I want our company to do all the work planning and organizing so my clients have more time for stuff that they want to do. I want our company to provide gadgets and gather final documents so that it makes it easier when my client travels. Our company has done exactly what we set out to do and our clients love it. So I guess I am just going to have to deal with the fact that not all travel suppliers hold their standards as high as I hold our company’s. After all, if the client has a great vacation then that is what matters the most to me.
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