By Emily Peters
It’s probably one of the most common complaints we hear from our independent travel professionals: “My cousin/best friend/uncle knows I own a travel business, but they just booked a trip with Costco!”
Sound familiar? If so, then you’re not alone—but we also know that finding polite (and effective) ways to address this issue is easier said than done. And while we don’t necessarily condone the passive aggressive approach to problem-solving, sometimes a subtle hint can lead to a more fruitful conversation.
Only you can judge when it’s time to speak, let it go, or be a teensy bit passive aggressive. If you’re open to the last, read on.
1. Invite them to like your travel agency’s page on social media.
If you haven’t done this already, you should. Just make sure you’re posting high-quality content on a regular, but not oppressive, basis. And hey, did they just return from Hawaii? Why not share pics of your latest FAM trip or a post on how you got that special upgrade for a client—you know, just a perk of working with a travel agent.
2. Ask to interview them about their last trip.
This is a great option if you’re looking for unique content for your travel blog, website, newsletter or social media platform. Getting their two cents on their travel experience not only disarms them by putting them in a position of authority (who doesn’t like that?) but gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how they booked, what they experienced, and (most importantly): how you could have improved upon the trip. Use the opportunity to share some of your travel knowledge and drop tips on how your approach might have helped with any challenges or dissatisfying experiences they faced.
If you’re going for an extra scoop of passive aggressive, maybe let them know that the article topic will be “Self-Booking vs. Working With a Travel Agent.”
3. Share more information about your value.
After so much exposure to OTA’s (online travel agencies) like Priceline and Expedia, it can take a lot of effort to rewire someone’s perspective on a travel professional. Take it upon yourself to share more information both online and in person about the changing views on travel professionals and real-life examples of how they transform travel experiences. This article here, this one from the NY Times, this one and this one are just a few that sing your praises.
Don’t be afraid to shine a light on your value. If you take yourself seriously as a travel professional, your friends and family will ultimately respond.
And for the not-so-passive-aggressive approach…
Be honest about how deeply you value their support. Especially if the individual is a particularly close friend or immediate family member, a gentle note could be all you need to make your point. And since we know finding the right words can be tough, you can use this as a template:
“Hi (blank)—I’ve been following your vacation to (blank) and it looks like you had a fantastic time! I would love to touch base with you when you guys are planning your next trip—I’ve got loads of tricks up my sleeve to craft the perfect vacation and it would mean the world to me to have a chance to work with you guys. Here’s my (website/travel blog/social media platform) if you haven’t visited it recently—take a peek and let’s chat soon.”
While watching your friends and family make seemingly unsupportive travel decisions can be infuriating, understanding is more fruitful than fury. Identify the root of their choices: lack of knowledge about what you do, not taking your business seriously, misconception about price—and then tailor your communications with them based on addressing those concerns. Whether you take the passive or direct approach, use these opportunities as a chance to finesse your sales technique. Good selling!
Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.