The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Building a business one customer at a time

My 22 year old nephew contacted the other day regarding travel arrangements. He had been tasked by his buddies as the point man on organizing a “bachelor” party to Las Vegas. He was frustrated as he perceived that his requests were not being taken seriously by the travel agents in his community.

I understood his situation completely. I thought of similar experiences shared with me by my students when trying to deal locally and the names of some local travel agents and agencies came to mind. They were just too busy to deal with these types of requests.

Yes too busy! His requests had been dismissed as a shopper and a waste of time. They never even considered him a potential client. After all professional travel agent has more important things on his or her agenda than to deal with this 20something year old and his travel plans.

You know that type of agent, the one that promised to call you back 6 months and you’re still sitting breathless by the phone waiting for it ring.

I feel that this is the wrong approach. These 20 year olds can develop into lifelong good customers. If I provide them with a good trip and great service they could become customers for a long time. Do a great job and they’ll tell their friends and associates about you and the agency. Free referral advertising is tough to beat.

Years ago (way before the Internet) I took the time with an unidentified lady to search for what seemed to be an impossible flight itinerary. Finally we pieced together a multiple connection flight and carrier flight. She booked her and her husband then thanked me for my time an effort. She added that she’d been to her regular travel agent and they blew her off. I could tell that I’d made her day.

About a week after her return from this trip she came into my office with very stern looking gentlemen. I collected my thoughts and said “Hi Rosalee. How was the trip?”
“Great “she replied and then continued by introducing me to her husband Jim. “We own XYZ Corp and want to speak with you about booking our corporate travel “she added.

I invested some time with her performed some research and gained a million dollar account.

Maybe one day my nephew or his friends will be in that situation and make some agents day.

Yes I did the get the guys booked into Vegas but that’s another story.

And yes I did upset my brother because he wasn't keen on the whole idea but then he wasn't footing the tab and his son is an adult. Sorry Bro!

Happy Travels!