Friday, February 5, 2016

Travel Agency Service Fees - Why Goldring Travel NEVER Charges Them

Over the past years I have heard all the arguments for travel agencies charging service fees, which apparently 81% of travel agents now charge.  The rational for these fees come down to three basic reasons:
  1. Travel agents should be compensated for his/her time;
  2. There are people that want to have an agent do all the work and then steal it and book it with someone offering a lower price (or, at least, seemingly so); and
  3. Because they can.
There are reasons for Goldring Travel earning this accolade
and those reasons still exist!
Travel agents should be compensated for his/her time...But how and why?

I totally agree that travel agents should, and need, to be compensated for their time.  I identify this compensation as "commissions".  If a travel agent's commissions are not high enough to provide sufficient compensation then there is a problem with their business model or their suppliers. Trying to correct it by charging the consumer extra doesn't seem to be a "correction", but more of a "passing the buck".  

In my opinion, if the agency cannot work efficiently, or cannot make enough money (commissions) selling a product then the solutions should lie within the travel agency or the supplier of the product...not the consumer.  Of course, if you want that Carnival cruise that sells for $299 there is really no money in it for the travel agency unless done on huge impersonal volumes. That is why Goldring Travel never charges as service fee...ever and avoids booking those sorts of cruises/trips.  I mean why pass the cost of doing that business onto my other, already profitable, clients? (OK, there is a single exception:  Booking airline tickets, which takes time and is actually a cost since airlines do not pay commissions.)

There are people that want to have an agent do all the work and then steal it 
and book it with someone offering a lower price (or, at least, seemingly so)

I also understand that there are some people out there that believe it is perfectly fine to have me do all the work, explaining the differences between cruise lines and ships, tour operators and hotels, the best time to go, the reasons why some itineraries are better than others, etc....and then go shop prices having taken all that information.  (Ever go to Best Buy for an electronic device, talk to a salesperson and then price shop for it on Amazon and Costco and find it for less?)  And, let's face it:  Writing this blog takes a lot of time.  Thousand of people read it and use the information...and then book their travel elsewhere.  While I find it frustratingly curious that people read my articles because they know I am an expert and accurate, but then book with another agency (or heaven forbid make the horrible mistake of booking directly....which will cost them extra money!), it is just part of doing business.

But what I also know is one can never tell if the person asking all the questions will be your client for life, working you over or - as has happened - will come back to Goldring Travel after booking their trip with that cut-rate agency and not getting the service they really desired or, in the end, it cost them more than they thought because the agent didn't advise them of x or y.  

Goldring Travel truly values every single booking. To show its clients, Goldring Travel provides added value on literally ever booking, whether it be a direct discount, onboard credits, a refund, hotel amenities (free breakfast, upgrades, etc.) or preferred limited upgrades at highly discounted prices closer in to sailings (that those discount agencies do not have access to) or leverage to have my clients placed in better suites when they book guarantee accommodations rather than assigned suites. And, of course, if something goes wrong during the trip and I find out about it, if possible I have it addressed then and there; not upon your return.  I also provide post-trip support for any issues that arise later. [Literally as I am writing this I received a call from a client that doesn't use a computer and needed assistance obtaining a Turkish visa. No problem at Goldring Travel.  It is what we do!]

Personally, I do not want the client that insists on paying what they perceive as the lowest price because they will probably be the ones that will demand the most when there is a charge at a hotel they don't recall or want to engage in the "I deserve a free cruise because..." and expect me to handle that for them even though it really has nothing to do with my services.  Yes, Goldring Travel turns away business so that it can properly service those folks that actually want and appreciate service!

Because they can

The last category is the one that really bothers me.  A very recent article basically stated that since consumers are getting used to being charged by the airlines for baggage, food, changes and more and many cruise lines charge for pretty much everything from room service to soda, the travel consumer has been trained to accept fees as part of travel.  Huh?

Goldring Travel spends its time trying to assure its clients receive the best travel value and avoid all the extra charges (whether it be NCL's "free" whatever slogan as it charges expand and increase or Regent Seven Seas "free, free, free" when you are paying for all of it). So I am supposed to do exactly the opposite of what is the very basis of how I do business by charging you a fee just because I can?  There is one thing in life you can never regain once lost:  Integrity.

If you are interested in booking a cruise or land vacation without any travel agency fees and with the comfort of knowing your travel agent actually insists on earning your business, give Goldring Travel a call at:

United States:        (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom:  020 8133 3450
Australia:               (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else:  +1 732 578 8585


Or email us at eric@goldringtravel.com.