This may sound unbelievable, but it happens more frequently that you might expect. Today I made a booking to Dubai for a family of 6 over Christmas and earned £9,638 in commission. That’s right! Just shy of £10,000 on a single booking! I had heard stories like this from people I have met in travel but I never believed it was possible until now. Having just started working in travel 5 months ago, I have been doing well, but the most I have earned on a single booking was £1,800 on a Dubai and Maldives Honeymoon that cost £10,000.
I didn’t even think I would get the booking!
Three weeks ago, I got a call from a solicitor who is married my best friend’s cousin. My best friend had told her cousin that I had started a travel business and should try me out for their annual Christmas vacation in Dubai. The family of 6 (2 parents, 3 kids and a mother in law) travel to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel every year flying on British Airways in Premium Economy. The family book their flights and hotel separately online wherever they can find the cheapest deal.
They were very up-front about their requirements and said to me that they would only book with me if I could match or beat the best price they had found online. They would like to support me because of the recommendation from my friend Julie, but I had to beat £29,200. I set about trying looking for prices and was able to secure the exact itinerary I had been tasked with for £26,480 through a well known Dubai specialist tour operator that sells through travel agents. This worked out at just over 9% commission which is not great as I usually aim for 12% minimum. However, given the size of the transaction, I would still be earning just over £2,000 after the group’s share was deducted.
I sent the quote to the client and waited. And then there was silence.
Blast from the past
I don’t like to chase bookings. I provide a very good service and always stive to get my clients the best deals. If they don’t call me back after I have presented them with an itinerary, I don’t pressure them or do the hard sell.
Having completely forgotten about the £30,000 Dubai Christmas holiday booking by now, I was surprised to get a call from the lawyer today. When he told me that he wanted to book, I should have been excited, but my initial reaction was that there was no way the price I quoted 3 weeks ago would still be available. I thought I would be open and honest and manage the client’s expectations. I told him that with Christmas just around the corner, the prices would most likely have gone up and getting the same deal may no longer be possible. The client responded with an equal measure of transparency by telling me that the prices had gone up and the best deal they could now find was over £36,000.
Taking on the challenge
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I thought I would give it a shot. I had heard from one of the training webinars the group runs that we have access to local suppliers known as Destination Management Companies around the world. So, instead of going back to the tour operator I had originally got the quote from, I decided I would try and package up the itinerary myself.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. After loading the flights, hotels, transfers and other bits and pieces into the system, the net price I was being shown was £19,562. I had to get up, take a deep breath, sit down again and look at what the system was showing me. There had to be some sort of a mistake. I checked, rechecked, had cup of tea and checked again. The price really was correct.
Now I was faced with a dilemma. Do I take advantage of my desperate clients who were clearly not intending to book with me and only coming to me as a last resort and charge them £36,000 or honour the original price I had quoted of £29,200.
The temptation was indeed powerful but I resisted! I was not however going to have my time wasted again so this time I called the client back and said I could get him the holiday for £29,200 and was holding the seats but needed the deposit of £750 per person paid by card whilst I was on the phone or the seats would be lost and the price would go up to £36,000. There was no hesitation and within the next 60 seconds I had £4,500 banked. Two hours later the balance had been transferred and the booking was confirmed.
Working hard and working smart
I have learned that whilst I have to work hard, I can make a lot of money by working smart. In travel prices fluctuate than currencies and the stock market. There are often huge gains to be made by booking lower prices at the time the booking is confirmed. As a travel agent, I can hold a booking with an airline or a hotel without paying any money but guaranteeing the price. I can cancel the booking at any time without penalty within the defined time limits. So if prices go up, I know that I will not have to charge my clients more. If prices go down, I can cancel, rebook and make a lot of extra money!
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