Don't Give Them What They Want

by Sunni Chapman

How do you define the role of a travel agent?

  • to plan whatever the client wants 
  • to advise travelers on their many options
  • to share your expertise -- even when it conflicts with your clients' request

Part of our job is to execute a traveler’s stated wishes – we want them to have the trip they dreamed of. That’s not all we do, though. And, it’s not all of what we should do for our trusted travelers. Our job extends well beyond blind execution.

We inform travelers about the world of options available to them – many of which they never knew existed. If all we do is book the exact trip they say they want, we’re not always acting in the travelers’ best interest. We’re holding our tongues out of fear of losing a sale.

Travelers come to advisers because they want our help. They’ll arrive in our offices with some specific requests (i.e., a private tour of the Vatican or a gondola ride in Venice). But, beyond these precise details, travelers often have a very skeletal idea of what they’d like to do. While they might say they want X and Y, such statements are just their initial order.


Think about your favorite restaurant. This is the spot you go to all the time – once or maybe twice a week. You’re a regular. You know the waiters by name. You have a go-to order there – that one dish that you know you’ll love. At your favorite spot, it’s easy always to order the same thing. Why stray from the familiar? It’s delicious. You love it. End of conversation.

But, day in and day out, the cooks are whipping up other delicacies. Some dishes seem like something that you just wouldn’t like. Maybe your favorite order is the first thing you ate in this place. Did you taste the whole menu before settling on that one dish you know you want? Of course not.

"As a travel adviser, you can give your travelers a menu of options. For a traveler to make an informed choice, they need first to hear your expert insights -- especially when what they say they want won't make for an enjoyable trip." 

There’s nothing wrong with the “safe” choice here. And yet, your craving for the one thing you love can – inadvertently – limit your experience. You might avoid other dishes. You might barely glance at the day’s special because you "know" what you want.

The waiters here are a little like travel experts. Waiters might recommend something you’d never try on your own. So, you take the risk and you order something new. And, guess what, you love it. You’ve discovered your new favorite dish! 

As a travel adviser, you can give your travelers a menu of options, directing them here and guiding them there. Ultimately, the traveler will decide which options appeal to their taste buds. Before they decide on a trip, travelers need to hear what you know. Why? Because you’ve sampled a world of experiences that they haven’t. You’re the expert who’s tried the whole menu.

Is it our job to give clients the safe options they think they want? Or, are we here to create delicious memories they’d never savor without us? 

Ciao, ciao!  
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