10 Ways to pick a bad travel agent

It’s no secret we’re pretty big fans of travel agents – we just love you all – but in every profession, there’s a few that let the team down.

US travel publication, Travel Market Report, has rounded up 10 things that bad travel agents don’t do, starting with not listening to clients.

Of course, this is just a teeny tiny minority, but every good agent has a few pet peeves. Feel free to add your own.

1. Does not listen to clients

According to TMR, a bad travel agent always has a hidden agenda, and comes into meetings just trying to score some money. Bad agents are focused on what bookings will make them the most commission, rather than what the client wants, while good travel agents will ‘interview’ a client, asking them about past holidays, family status, wish lists, budget, and more.

2. Does not actively market

When you’re dealing with a bad travel agent, you can bet they’re not doing much to market to new clients, or keep old ones loyal. Their websites are haphazard at best, and don’t actively encourage customers to come to them, while a good travel agent has a plan in place. According to TMR, they send out direct emails, newsletters, and even do the odd ‘cold call’ to keep clients in the mix.

3. Does not know products

Now, you don’t need to know every product out there, but a bad travel agent won’t know any. They’ll also be focused on selling things that have higher commissions, so don’t even try and sell things they know. They also will ignore any opportunities like training programs, roadshows and other chances to upskill or learn more, meaning they have a much harder time selling.

4. Does not know destinations

Similar to not knowing products, per TMR, a bad agent will also not try and understand a destination fully when selling it to a client. Meanwhile, good travel agents do their best to research and learn about places they’re selling to customers to give them the best possible experience.

5. Does not sell groups

TMR says that good travel agents will seek to know and understand how to sell to groups, given their big budgets and lucrative commissions, but when they do it, they aim to do it well. If you’re a bad travel agent, chances are you won’t have achieved this skill or tried to give it a go.

6. Does not sell preferred partners

According to TMR’s article, a bad travel agent fails to sell an agency’s preferred partners, picking suppliers that don’t have relationships with their agency. While they might claim it’s because a client wanted something else, by doing this, an agent clearly has failed to point out the benefits of choosing a preferred supplier, which can often include special extras for the partnered agency.

7. Does not follow up

A bad travel agent will make a lot of promises, but often fail to follow up, or if they do, won’t follow up in a timely manner, says TMR, as well as failing to follow up after a client comes back from holidays. A bad agent also neglects to check in regularly with clients to see what other travel needs they can help with.

8. Doesn’t get trained

Just like failing to understand destinations or products, you can pick a bad agent if they haven’t also sought out education opportunities that make their business offerings better. According to TMR, bad agents usually complain there simply isn’t enough time to do this, because of the constant demand to book travel for clients. But of course, without training, that business may eventually dry up.

9. Does not seek support

A bad agent, according to TMR, does not rely on fellow agents or preferred partners when they need help with bookings. Instead of using resources available or the expertise of others, they choose to go it alone, and in turn deny their clients of the benefits that come from a collective team approach to travel booking.

10. Does not develop relationships

And finally, TMR says one of the biggest reasons why agents are deemed ‘bad’ is that they fail to do the most fundamental thing – build relationships. A good travel agent becomes more than just an agent to their clients, playing a very big role in their major life experiences. A bad travel agent fails to develop any meaningful relationships or mutual trust with their customers.

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