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What Did Your Client Just Say?

August 23, 2010 By: Kirk Cassels

It's amazing how a few words can change everything. Years ago, I was in the midst of a summer romance with a young lady who had all the physical features I salivated over since my adolescence. She was very sweet, very fun and had a free spirit take on life that made the relationship very laid back and drama-free. But then, something happened.

After hitting up the Bank of America ATM for some cash to take said young lady out to dinner, she said something I will never forget. After suggesting I change banks, I asked her why, and she said, "Think about it... if the terrorists attack a bank, which one are they going to hit first? The Bank of America."

It was right there and then that I realized this relationship was not going to last past summer. Fortunately, we ended things well and still keep in touch. But that was a personal relationship which had little to do with my career or business. So I'm curious as to how agents react when one of their clients says or asks something that makes you do a double-take.

ASTA recently shared a list of the most outrageous travel queries the Association's agents have ever heard, and it was indeed filled with some doozies. So we asked readers of our Facebook page to share some of their more bizarre, but perhaps entertaining, stories as well. Get ready to laugh, because here they are:

Phyllis R Chambers' client asked "can you drive to Hawaii?"

Kimberly Mann Phyllis had a client with a similar misunderstanding of the Hawaiin islands who said they "want to do a four-day cruise, from New York -- to Hawaii."

Karen Lowry's traveler asked, "Can you take your beach chairs on the cruise ship?"

Dianne Papineau had a customer how asked that she "figure out why she hadn't received her Italian rail pass, she was leaving the next day, when she chose not to book it through me, didn't have a confirmation number and wasn't sure who she purchased it through. Maybe a scam as I worked for AAA at the time and she thought I'd just give her one since she was a member?"

Melissa Sutton had a client on a seven-day Caribbean cruise who wanted "to make sure they are allowed to get off the ship when in port."

Meanwhile, Shop Around Tours "was escorting a tour and got a late night call from two pax because the sink in their room was stopped up. I told them I neglected to pack my plunger and asked them if they called the front desk or housekeeping. Nope, they just called me... as if I was their personal plumber."

Vacations To Remember had a client who asked, "Do I need a passport to go to Hawaii?"

Sharri Moore Cta Ds had two outrageous questions to share. One said she wanted to meet her boyfriend on his sabbatical in India and asked, "Can't I take a train?" The other, who is a receptionist at a law firmm asked "Where is Tokyo?"

Natalie McLeister Smith ‎had two head-turning questions proposed to her as well. The first was, "Do I need a passport for New Mexico?" The second was, "I can't take the train from New York to London? It looks so close on the map."

Sue Clark Koenig's most outrageous questions were "Will I be able to fish from my balcony on the cruise ship?" and "I don't have a passport - can't I just fly to Tahiti? Then I won't really touch another country." '

Virginia Tucker See had a client who said "No one told me I needed a visa... all I have is a Mastercard,"  and another who "wanted to know if they had a felony warrant out for their arrest if they could still go on a cruise they have already paid for."

David Huber  had one traveler flying from Phoenix to Seattle inquire, "So if I am flying to Seattle on Southwest, does that mean that I will be returning on Northwest?"

Terry Guy Larke had a customer who asked, "My son is on a plane to Vancouver can you tell me if he arrived?"

Idress Cheriet has a star-struck client who asked, "How many famous people am I supposed to meet in St. Barth?"

Finally, at least for now, Carolyn Mysogland Dudgeon "had a guy come back from Mexico and complained because I didn't tell him they don't speak no English down there."

In addition to asking readers and agents to share some of the more ridiculous comments and questions made by their clients, I'd also like to know how do you respond? As I mentioned earlier, my unfortunate moment with the lovely lady cited in the story above ended easily and did not affect my business. But when a client asks or says something so stupid, how does that affect the means in which you do business with them? Is there incompetence or craziness worth your time? Does their absent-mindedness serve as a positive in that your expertise becomes more valuable?

Let us know your stories and how you responded, reacted and/or followed up. We want to hear from you. Post a comment below. Write us at our Facebook page. Send a tweet to our Twitter page. Join the discussion thread at AgentNation.

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