Kristina Hulme of Travel by Design turned down a £20k booking as it had already been heavily researched by a rival agency. She says "All that work that’s been done - all that investment that his agent has put in. It’s a hard decision because it’s a lot of money, but there have to be ethics in the industry."
Whilst I completley agree with her ethics and think it's about time as an industry we do something to battle against discounting rather than wait for operators to slash commission (Complete Cruise Solutions) or moan about online discounts, I don't think I would have turned the booking away. Tour operators that offer online discounts are always going to be around but we can stop the over-discounting on the high street and through Online Travel Agencies.
I have always offered to price match (as long as it is financially viable) but refuse to get drawn into a price war. So if a client comes into my shop with a price from a rival agency I will match the price for them but thats it.
Nor will I offer a discount on holidays unless its part of a promotion. So when I get customers that haggle on price and I remain firm and polite on the price, guess what? They book anyway.
I honestly believe that if we all stop discounting customers will stop "shopping around" and will book with the agency that offers the best service.
What do you think?
Oh I love this topic...
Here in my town we have the big 5 (coop//thomas cook//gps//Thomson//first choice) so we have to be very competitive in what we do. Our shop is quiet lucky we have a huge regular customer basis so on that side its brilliant but with new customers its a nightmare they shop around in everyone and play us all off against eachother - like you azzie I agree to match and if they dont like it then let them go (normally they will book) but its so "discount crazy" if everyone took a step back stopped with the madness of "come here and we will match" or "we can guarantee to match" this industry would be brilliant again.
Bring it back to the old days where people would come in sit down and book...not net no shopping around
i miss those days
Personally I find yes some customers will book where service is the best and others will go with who ever is cheapest regardless of service.
I've lost count the number of times we get customers in who have booked on the web or phone and the company who they have used are not being very helpful and will happily come into the shop to get our help/advice but then you never see them again even if you've done them a favour and given them good service even when they haven't booked with us!
I guess every customer is different. Some value service more than others.
And yes we will match the prices but hate to get into the price wars!
I hate discounting, price wars etc!
I actually feel quite offended if Ive put lots of effort into a quote, put together an itinerary and then the client goes and tries to get discounts from other agents or even worse.... the internet!!
Thankfully, in our town we do not get a lot of this. Our clients prefer receiving a high level of service!
I fail to understand some rivals. I had one that undercut us by £80pp! Why would you give that much profit away?! I think some agencies need to look at their commission and incentive schemes. I know some agencies will give agents an incentive of say £3pp whereas other agencies will give agents a percentage of the profit they generate for the business.
It's the agents (I find) on incentives that will discount heavilly as they still get their £3pp. Whereas agents on percentages will try to keep the profit in the booking.
Am I right?
Deedah. You hit the nail on the head. We even had one Lady walk out of the Shop pay £1.80 on a bus to go book her holiday at another shop that was £1 cheaper. Then to return to us with questions, "they will not help me and your very helpful." was her comment. She was upset when we said we could not answer the questions because she had not booked with us.
We have stopped serving some people as they used us for information and never booked. Again the general gist was but I do not know how to find out the information and XXXXX will not help me. Our standard answer to this now is "you get what you pay for, do not shop at ASDA and then moan it is not as good as M&S".
Not where I am now but back in an old shop we refused to serve a customer, like you all she did was get all the information of us and then book with her friend who worked for a different company.
Also I have had the same problem with people who come to us go somehwere else and book then are upset becuase who they booked with won't help.
I always say like you nick "you dont go into New look and then Dotty p's and say ive seen this in new look for £5 cheaper match it" you just wouldnt
This country is just mental
Ha ha - we often use the clothes shop analogy, it seems to be the only one that works!!
As for 'information gatherers' they really do get on my nerves! We always refuse to give out information for the same reasons mentioned above! We actually have a 'black list' of people who have, over the years, abused our knowledge and booked online/with a cheaper company etc etc etc.
I do agree with you dear. i miss my those(college) days.
I am a great believer in adding value rather than discount. I know it is a radical idea but there are too many lazy discounters out there. We offer our customers value and they appreciate it.
When quoting flights and working with customer on her best options she was getting a similar price from a rival £10 more pp...she then went back to them and got it down to £10 less pp from the other operator and booked there. My only comment was 'i don't mess about with margins and they blatantly tried to rip you off in the first place!!'
I agree that it is frustrating when you put a lot of effort into the booking and another walks in at the last minute, slashes the price and you lost it because the customer has panicked and booked or assumed we couldn't pm the price due to the original cost you gave to someone. However, that is the nature of the business and the recession we are in doesn't help matters!
The thing is, why can't Thomas Cook, Thomson etc etc all have exactly the same prices as online or other high street stores and NOT be allowed to discount. That way then, to get the booking it would be a case of who gives the best service and not which company will slash their commission for a pitiful booking earning the shop £20?
Just a thought.
The other thing that annoys me about discounts is when customers say ive booked my last 2 holidays with you so do i get a special discount.
Well I always shop in ASDA but it doesnt mean they are going to give me £50.00off my next shop lol
I agree with you.
Agreed with all of you!True indeed
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We had an intresting one recently
Customer booking a ski holiday, friend went to Thomas Cook and offered £50 off per person without any others quotes. Customer came back to us we said we would match it, Friend called Thomas Cook offered another £25 off per person. We again said we would match it. Customer went back to TC who offered £10 (so now £85) off and told them it would only be vaild if they booked now. Customer rings us we told them we would match, customer still asked us to cancel the option.
We said to the customer are you sure as you will loose the early booking discount, they said yes. We then got a phone call from the tour operator who assured us that TC was not getting the early booking discount and where still offering the client the deal in their shop.
So TC shop ended up giving away £4 each person more than the commission. Yet their boss stands up and says they do not discount except to price match. Yesterday the client was informed they booked to late to get there free lift pass.
Result TC paid them to go on holiday and the customer is still unhappy as they will forked out £300 odd more than they where expecting.
Nick - That is so ridiculous of Thomas Cook!
I do not like discounting, but obviously we do it! I had a lady this week who asked for a quote. When I gave her the details I mentioned we could price match, like for like, if she found a better quote. She came back to me with quote £1000 cheaper through Expedia. I checked this and it was indirect flights, not the right board basis etc. I advised the client, who was very grateful I had pointed it out. She came back to me a bit later with a quote for the same details as I had looked at, which was £250 cheaper. I couldnt price match it exactly, but could go most of the way. The client booked despite the fact we were more expensive.
Sometimes a smaller 'gesture' discount will still get the booking!