The past year hit travel agents especially hard. You spent endless hours helping clients with cancelled trips, getting them back to Canada safely, rebooking trips, explaining FTVs and answering question after question — and getting yelled at. Meanwhile you saw all your future bookings disappear.
Then came the recalled commissions and all the travel restrictions which remain in place today.
You did not get paid for any of this time you spent. It’s time ALL travel agents started charging for their services. The pandemic has handed us the perfect opportunity to introduce — and explain — the F-word: fees for our services.
Travel agents need to understand their value and that it is ok to say no to a customer who just wants to pick your brain and then book with an OTA.
This great pause in our industry is an opportunity to re-assess how we do business and, after the lessons of 2020, the perfect time for agents to start charging for their services.
Free training video on charging fees
The Travel Agent Next Door believes very strongly in this concept. So much so, they have set up a free training video on their website that any agent can access.
The host agency launched a training course on its TTAND University platform for its own agents in February and the majority have completed the course.
TTAND has built a service fee capability in its system and now offers its agents the ability to add fees under a variety of different names such as a Planning Fee, Consultation Fee, Professional Services Fee – and also there’s a Change Fee and Cancellation Fee.
The agent has the ability to choose the name they want and the amount charged, in either Canadian or U.S. funds.
“If you count all the hours you work on a file, the emails, the research, the phone calls and calculate an hourly rate out of the commission you receive, the hourly rate is very low,” said Penny Martin, TTAND VP Agent Experience. “At least with service fees added, the agent will earn a little more — and keep that amount if the file cancels and commission is recalled.”
Martin said she expects over 80% of TTAND agents will now charge fees, compared with about 20% before the pandemic.
“There’s still some reluctance with some agents — a fear that existing clients will not be happy to start paying fees — or new agents afraid that customers won’t want to pay fees,” said Martin. “But if all agents start charging for their time, the public will come to expect it.”
She added: “The beauty of our program is that it is up to the travel agent how much to charge and when to charge it…. we have provided a lot of flexibility for the agent to charge fees that they feel are appropriate for their clients”