Once upon a time, travel professionals earned their living in the form of commissions from suppliers. But today that’s no longer the case; many agents earn most of their income—and some earn all of it—by charging their customers professional fees.
If you’re not yet in that number, here are some reasons to consider joining the trend.
1. You are entitled to payment for your professional advice. When you book a cruise, tour, or hotel room, the commission the supplier pays is essentially a “thank you” for choosing its product over a competitor. It’s your client who should be paying for your expertise, your research, your time and your customer service, as they pay every professional they hire.
2. Fees imply value. Confession: I am not one to turn down a Costco sample on Saturday morning. But they only offer me a bite, not a full meal. Take yourself seriously enough to place a price on the service you are delivering. Confidence is attractive, and fees help sculpt client expectations to value you as a sophisticated travel consultant.
3. Fees improve the reputation and health of our industry. Sure, your clients could do their own research on the Internet. But as a travel professional, you eliminate information overload and create a painless, customized travel experience for them. Delivering on this promise—and charging for it—emphasizes the relevance and trustworthiness of the profession as a whole.
4. Cash = Commitment. From Weight Watchers to the gym down the street, retailers know that charging a fee up front creates a psychological commitment. Clients will be less likely to pump you for information and then disappear if they’ve invested in your services.
5. Cheaper Isn’t Always Better. The success of companies like Apple and Starbucks prove that people are willing to pay more for attractive, quality products. Don’t compete to be the cheapest. Compete to be the best.
Emily Peters is a contributing writer for Montrose Travel.