We're only halfway through the first month of 2010 and AgentNation is already abuzz with agents connecting on a variety of topics, from airline policies to cruise rebating. The year already kicked off with a great discussion on whether it is better to go through a host agency or not for certification. If you haven't been keeping up with your fellow peers, hop on in now. Here's just a snippet of what's been going on at the only social community online for all types of travel agents.
Meeting with Clients
What's better, meeting with clients in a fancy place or meeting them from the comfort of your own home while the client is also in the comfort of his or her home? Responding to Michael Browne's query about where home-based and independent agents hold meetings with clients, user Here2There said:
We belong to an upscale health club that has a cafe that is very conducive to client meetings, so we often meet them there.
Not a bad idea, eh? Meanwhile, user College_Travel_Network shared a thought that cuts down travel time for the clients before the trip planning even begins. How? He/she says:
I prefer to give my client the option of meeting at my home, a library, a restaurant, or I will simply invite them to a online meeting so that they never have to leave their home.
Thank You, Airlines?
A few months ago I asked a question at AgentNation about the airlines' rocky relationship with agents and alluded to a few inciting instances (whether it was with Delta over commissions or with United on its credit card policy) as well as cited a New York Times piece about more consumers taking their business to travel agents instead online. I was thrilled to see user ronarcher's response, stating:
I wish to Thank all Airlines and most Travel Agents too!
The ridiculous rules, fees, changes, mergers and poor customer service issues are driving many consumers back to travel agents. Many travel agents either will not make the bookings or have significantly deemphasized air so they have no contracts or programs by which to make money.
Agents are missing out on significant revenue from the sales of airline tickets. Airline commissions range from 5% to 35% on International Carriers and there are Domestic carriers paying on long haul flights in the USA.
Consumers will also pay a fee for service and it amazes me that all agencies have not embraced the sales of air. How do your clients get to Hawaii? Swim? Why not make money on unpackaged air?
Take advantage of the confusion. By from consolidators and make big bucks selling air - your clients want it.
Sure, we enjoyed the response we got in our poll about whether cruise rebating got better or worse or stayed the same in 2009. But we were much more pleased to see agents extending the discussion over at AgentNation. One item of discussion that has stood out to me is the questioning of Regent Seven Seas being involved in this practice or not. According to user birgitt, the cruise line is rebating, despite comments read otherwise. Here's what she wrote:
I was taken aback by the remark: Regent Seven Seas garnered kudos from agents for its stict anti-rebate policy!
I can only add to this from my own experience: We have a client who booked numerous world cruises in two staterooms with us on Regent ships. This year he came to my office with the request of rebating our commission to him in form of an American Express gift card and several private shore excursions which Virtuoso agencies apparently offers their clients. He gave me the request in writing with $$$ and Cents or else. This particular gentlemen is one of our most cherished, pampered and looked after client since fifteen years. We went beyond the call to service him and thought we had an ironclad relationship untill he heard from fellow world cruisers about the rebating Virtuoso Agency in California. I called my Regent Sales Rep immediately, called my own Consortium and sent a letter to travel weekly about this dirty little behavior in our industry. It does remind me of prostitution and feels dirty but then it is the oldest and most succesfully surviving profession in the world, right?
Ironically, I received an invitation from Regent Cruises"As one of our top producing travel partners for 2009 you are invited to join us for an exclusive Regent Seven Seas Council event in San Diego.........." I sent my regrets because I'm afraid I would look at every big California Agent as the one who stole my top client! and I'm sure there will be plenty of them attending.
Has anyone experienced the same or opposite with Regent?
A Little Help from Our Editorial Director
No only will you get to network with other travel professionals at AgentNation, you can also get feedback from the staff of experts in editorial at Travel Agent. User patti121564 experienced this herself when inquiring if anyone did a site inspection at Club Med Ixtapa or if the property is involved with any tour operators. Sure enough, our own Ruthanne Terrero chimed in with some useful information, sharing:
Hi, Patti, we checked with Jim Killen, Director of Sales, Eastern Region for Club Med North America.....
....And he said that calling Club Med directly at 1-800-CLUB MED or GOGO Worldwide Vacations is how an agent would book.
To obtain information on all Club Med resorts, all agents should visit:
He also told us that recently, TripAdvisor ranked Ixtapa Pacific #9, out of 6,700 hotels in Mexico.
Hope this helps! I also put the question out on Travel Agent magazine's Facebook and Twitter (@travelagentmag) pages to see if other agents could give you feedback on the property. Will let you know if we hear anything
Want to add your two cents to any of these topics? Feeling the itch to introduce a new topic of discussion? You know what to do. Log in to AgentNation now and engage your fellow peers!