Last month in this column I spoke about why you should charge service fees.
I hope you agree it’s the only way to go!
This time around, we’ll discuss how to deliver the message that you’re now charging fees.
I know firsthand how uncomfortable this can be, so let’s see how we can make it as painless as possible.
First, what to charge? There are almost as many fee plans as there are travel advisors – from a menu of fees for each specific service, to a non-refundable annual retainer fee.
To help figure out what you’re most comfortable with, chat with colleagues and conduct some research on different fees structures.
Of course, after some time, you can amend and update your fees too, especially if you’re new to the industry. Just don’t make changes too often!
Now for (what you think is) the hard part: telling existing clients you will be charging not only for your services but also for your expertise!
Remember, your time and knowledge is valuable – that is why clients come to you.
While I don’t think you should send an e-blast announcing your fee structure, you could certainly post these on your website.
You should also have a personal conversation with each of your best clients. Give them a call, or tell them when they contact you to book their next trip.
Engage in the conversation and say something along the lines of, “As we’re all well aware, the lasting results from the pandemic have changed us all and this includes the way I work with my clients. I have made a business decision to introduce planning fees. These fees represent my time, research, knowledge and expertise, and my valuable connections to ensure I’m planning the best possible trip with peace of mind for you from before you leave to after you come home.”
I can’t recommend enough that you role play this conversation – a lot! Try it out on friends and family and be sure to give them some suggested objections so that you can rehearse your responses. Practise until you are completely comfortable and it will become second nature.
On the (definitely) good news front, hundred of advisors who have introduced new service fees report that clients are fully receptive to the concept and more than happy to pay – some may even wonder why you have been working for free! They may also weed out those “window shoppers” you might spend hours planning a trip for, only to have them end up booking online.
For new clients it will obviously be much easier. During your initial conversation, in the getting to know you/how I work with my clients phase, say something along the lines of, “Before we go further, I’d like to give you an idea of how I work. I do charge service fees, and these range from…” Because you have practised your speech this should no longer be an issue.
Chances are, like your existing clients, new clients will be more than receptive. Remember; be confident enough in yourself to know that you deserve to be paid for your time and knowledge!